Physiology of play
The Hungries have well defined behaviours that can be expanded and built upon using the imagination of their young (ages 3-5) human owners. This set of behaviours can be seen as an open system that allows for many different play patterns, turning the concepts of storage (both physical and virtual) and recursion into an excuse for creative play.
Feeding the Hungries
The act of taking out the monsters from inside one another gives a hint of the mental model for the Hungries, as it makes clear that it is physically possible to put different kinds of objects inside their extremely elastic mouths and bellies. This simple affordance facilitates different play narratives; children can put other toys inside the Hungries, use them as treasure chests, carry around assorted objects, hide things from their parents…
Storage aside, the self-recursive aspect of the Hungries can be the most rewarding to explore, as it can entice children’s curiosity by giving a glimpse of more complex concepts like infinity and set theory using physical actions (tugging their arms, dragging them around, recursively stuffing each monster with other Hungries or objects and taking them out, etc.)
The Hungries’ hunger is not limited to random objects or other Hungries, they can also store and reproduce external sounds. Each member of the Hungries family has its own voice, that means every sound they record can be played back in an unique, distorted, quirky way. Furthermore, when all Hungries are inside each other the sound behaviour changes, creating new patterns and possibilities for play.
Since Hungries’ ears are optimised for human voice, kids are encouraged to play and experiment with parents’ and friends’ voices as well as their own. To make a monster listen, the child can touch one of its ears and say the message, noise or random sound he wants the Hungry to store. To make the monster talk, the only step required is to tug one of its arms, after that the Hungry will reproduce the stored sound using its own voice.
In family unit mode, that is, when the Hungries are put back inside each other, a new sound behaviour emerges, magically making every Hungry talk one after the other. Tugging either arm of the external (container) Hungry activates the sequence, in which each Hungry can be heard–starting from the innermost one or the other way round–even though only the external one is visible.
How they work
Like a drunken chorus performing at the opera, the Hungries family manage to get their vocal sequence right in a seemingly miraculously way. The secret lies in short range radio signals that are activated only when all Hungries are in intimate proximity, i.e. one inside another.