How physical objects enhance interactivity concerning entertainment and education

When I first received this Amiibo as a gift from a friend, I knew nothing of Amiibo and its functions. I thought the figurine looked aesthetically pleasing, but when I was told that the Amiibo could connect to my Nintendo Switch and give me gifts in ‘breath of the wild’, the object instantly became much more exciting and unique. For me, the Amiibo has become a symbol of technological innovation, change and possibilities. This post will explore Amiibo’s importance for the author through its symbolic and practical values in the 21st century. The post will explore this by showing how physical objects, such as the Amiibo, enhance the digital or its digital counterpart. This is illustrated in a broader sense for the entertainment industry and through education.  

The object is an Amiibo of Link, who is the protagonist of the game ‘Breath of the Wild’  and other Legend of Zelda games. How the Amiibo is a symbol of technological innovation does not lie in the technology itself, but rather in its capability to increase the interactivity between the player, the real world, and the in-game world. Because of the likeliness between the in-game character and the Amiibo, as seen in the side-by-side pictures below, it is easy for players to relate the two to each other. This does not only apply to Amiibo, but to all sorts of physical objects. I will further explore this in the next section.

Physical objects enhance interactivity in the entertainment industry

Figurines like the Amiibo are rarely just figurines. They are part of a franchise like a game or a tv series. Nowadays, there are multiple ways to interact with a franchise. In the case of ‘Breath of the Wild’, you can play the game yourself, watch others play the game on YouTube or Twitch, discuss the game with others on Twitter, or even read books about the franchise. In addition to that, fans collect lots of merch, as seen in the video below.

(The Curiosity Shop, 2021: A Legend of Zelda Collection)

So not only is the Amiibo a multimodal device, as it fulfils multiple functions; the examples above also show that users engage with the content in a multimodal way. Multimodality essentially means there is more than one mode of meaning-making: for instance; when communicating, speech is used in combination with non-verbal communication (Van Leeuwen, 2011). Meaning is not only shaped through the source material (e.g. a game or tv series) in the entertainment industry. Rather, it is shaped through the source material and all other content a person engages with, such as figurines.

Even though the accessibility to lots of content provides many positive effects, there may also be some adverse effects. Bhatt explains in her book that we, as modern people, are continuously subject to a “content tsunami” (2019, p. 3). This, according to her, stems from the newfound connectivity between individuals that allows sharing and transferring information effortlessly and at a very low price, thanks to modern technology. However, this “content tsunami” leads to a high demand of attention and mental capacities, leading to attention deficits (Bhatt, 2019).

The “content tsunami” may be one of the reasons why figurines and other merchandise are such a booming market (Business Wire, 2021). Figurines continue to promote interactivity with their digital counterpart. Figurines are likely always visible, thus reminding the owner of the source material. This keeps the content fresh in mind (similar to how a souvenir works) or even entices the owner to interact with the content again (Morgan & Pritchard, 2005). For example, viewing the Link Amiibo reminds me of the game Breath of the Wild, so when I have not played the game in a while, I will be more inclined to start playing it again. It has become clear that changes in the way we interact with content affects ourselves too; one of the results may be attention deficits (Bhatt, 2019). One of the industries where this can have a significant impact, is education.

Physical objects enhancing interactivity in education

As explained in the previous section, the new ways we interact with media may lead to attention deficits. This may especially be a problem in education, where attention is critical. Interestingly, the solution to this problem may also be multimodality. The other part of the Amiibo, the NFC chip, represents a new era of technology and its use in education.

Education, a core concept in our society throughout history, has changed. Technology has undeniably played a significant role in this (Stošić, 2015). With the help of the internet and countless apps, students learn digital skills, critical thinking, and differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources (Cope & Kalantzis, 2008). Students can start learning new media from a very young age. There is media and content on every educational level, and children have proven to be adaptive to new media and technology (Druin, 2009).

One example of cooperation between technology and objects can be found in the Discovery Museum in Kerkrade. In their exhibition ‘Are you sure?!’, visitors have to use their smartphones to solve an Augmented Reality puzzle series that teaches about deepfakes and social media wisdom (Discovery Museum, 2021). This shows that objects can enhance interactivity in education, and perhaps improve education or new learning methods.

(Polycular, n.d.: AR escape room)*

The interactivity between objects and technology can also help create an environment where everyone can join in physical activities, in school or distanced schooling, something that has become more familiar thanks to the COVID-19 virus. The following quote from Gaggioli explains this phenomenon:

“… The integration of computers in everyday objects and the increasing bidirectional information flow between the digital and the physical realm is transforming our surrounding environment (including even our bodies) into a seamlessly programmable interface, where virtually every object can be creatively reconfigured to provide new kinds of phygital experiences”

(Gaggioli, 2017, p.1)

Examples of physical activity in a digital sense are games like Pokémon GO, which makes the user walk to collect Pokémon. In virtual classroom settings, games like Rolly-pong or Just Dance can be played, which combine physical activity (a soccer-like game and dancing) with interactivity on the screen. These options can substitute standard PE lessons and provide options for students who could otherwise not participate in those lessons.

In conclusion

The Amiibo figurine represents two critical angles in the 21st century, from the entertainment industry and education. The figurine part of the Amiibo represents a change in the way we interact with entertainment content, , by not only providing us with a physical artefact of our interest, but also by enhancing the digital experience. In addition, the technological part of the Amiibo represents significant technological growth that can be implemented in education by increasingly improving accessibility and access to information. These two interacting aspects of the Amiibo make it such a unique object.

* Unfortunately, Discovery Museum’s escape room is not open to the public yet; therefore, I am not allowed to post pictures of it yet. This picture from the Polycular ‘Escape AR’ looks very similar from a technical perspective.


Bhatt, S. (2019). The Attention Deficit: Unintended Consequences of Digital Connectivity. (1st ed. 2019. ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.

Business Wire. (2021, March 11). Funko Reports Fourth Quarter 2020 Sales of $227 Million, Up 6%; Provides 2021 Outlook for 25% to 30% Sales Growth. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2008, April 13). ‘Multiliteracies’: New Literacies, New Learning.

Druin, A. (2009). Mobile technology for children: Designing for interaction and learning. (1st ed.). Morgan Kaufmann.

Discovery Museum. (2021, November 19). Expeditie. Retrieved May 3, 2022, from

Gaggioli, A. (2017). Phygital spaces: When atoms meet bits. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking20(12), 774-774.

Morgan, N., & Pritchard, A. (2005). On souvenirs and metonymy. Tourist Studies, 5(1), 29–53.

Polycular. (n.d.). AR escape room [Photograph]. Escape AR.

Stošić, L. (2015). The importance of educational technology in teaching. International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education, 3(1), 111–114.

The Curiosity Shop [SuperZeldaGirl]. (2021, February 11). My Legend of Zelda Collection! –The Curiosity Shop [Video]. YouTube.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2010). Multimodality [E-book]. In The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics (1st ed., p. 15). Routledge.


Name: Amiibo Figurine of Link

3D Model

Creator: Laura van Eden 

Date: 27-01-2022

Place: Kerkade, The Netherlands

Themes: Entertainment

Captured with Nikon D750 camera (40mm), tripod, lightbox, lazy Susan 

Processed with Agisoft Metashape Professional Software run on Windows 10 (64 bit) using AMD Ryzen 7 with Radeon graphics


Physical Object

Size: 10 cm x 5cm x 10 cm 

Weight: 40 gram

Material: PVC plastics, NFC chip