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Toys and Games


Toys and games are found throughout the world and date back to early times. They have various purposes. Their mission may be to exercise the body, challenge the mind, simply to entertain, or a combination of purposes. The earliest known game is dice, with pieces found in Egyptian tombs. Chess, riddles, tag, and hopscotch are just a few examples of the types of games that originated many generations ago and continue to be played today. Dolls, soldiers, and simple toys like balls and hoops were originally made by parents, to keep children entertained. They used materials that were readily available to them at that time, such as wood, terra-cotta, and clay.

The toy manufacturing business developed in the 1800s, with Germany leading the way in toy development and craftsmanship, and France, England, and the United States soon following. Dolls and their accessories were the initial focus. In the early 1900s, board games and puzzles grew in popularity. By the 1960s, Barbie and action figures like G.I. Joe flooded the marketplace. Arcade games in the 1970s were the precursors to the video games that were introduced in the late 1990s. Today, there are mobile apps for games that can be played on devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

The toy and game industry is structured into two categories: traditional toys and video games. Traditional toys include action figures, building sets, dolls, games and puzzles, vehicles, and other similar toys. Toy producers include Mattel and Hasbro. Video game producers include Nintendo, known for games like Super Mario Bros. Deluxe; Capcom, for such hits as its Resident Evil series; and Activision, producer of the popular Call of Duty series. In recent years multiplayer online games, such as Apex Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, Minecraft, Dota 2, and Grand Theft Auto, among others, have skyrocketed in popularity.

Jobs in the toys and game industry include toy designers, video game designers, product researchers, engineers, artists, model makers, toy and game observers and testers, market researchers, engineering and safety experts, quality control inspectors, and manufacturers and retailers. The U.S. government established an age grading guideline to help parents choose toys appropriate for their children, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tests toys and games for safety. If the product shows potential to be dangerous or has a history of accidents, the commission recalls it from the market and may deem it illegal to be sold and marketed.

Toy sales comprised a $27 billion industry in 2019, a 4 percent drop in domestic toy sales in 2018. Dolls and outdoor toys and sports toys were among the most popular and successful types of toys, according to the Toy Industry Association. Video games rival traditional toys with sales in 2019 of more than $43 billion on games, hardware, and accessories, a 2 percent increase over video game sales in 2018. The global doll, toy, and game industry is expected to decline slightly in 2020 due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic but is projected to rebound and grow steadily into 2023. There will continue to be employment opportunities in the toys and games industry in coming years, and designers with strong drawing skills and experience with computer-aided-design software expertise will have the edge in the job market.