While some of us like to spend our gaming time socializing, adventuring, and strategizing, others like to flex their creative muscles by building and designing. This has long been the case and it’s now common for games to include level editors, creative sandbox modes, and other ways for players to explore the tools and resources without the pressures of time or attack. These 10 games shine in their sandbox, creative, and level editing modes.
Minecraft has truly come to symbolize a movement in terms of the ability for players to craft their own environments and experiences. While some kids may prefer to take their chances in Survival mode, pacifists and highly creative types will likely prefer creative mode, where they can farm, mine, and build to their heart’s content. Even better? Take it to the next level and actually create your own skins and code your own blocks by creating mods. Minecraft is the gift that keeps on giving. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac)
2. LEGO Worlds
LEGO is a tried-and-true creative brand so there’s no surprise that LEGO Worlds provides plenty of opportunity to build and design. While a portion of the game focuses on a story-based path, players unlock private environments where they can build as they please with no goals in sight. (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC)
Imagine you’re given your own island with unlimited building resources. What would you create? Fortnite Creative builds on the popularity of the first-person shooter base game by allowing you to answer that question for yourself. When you’re done, invite your friends to join you in your (tropical?) paradise. You can challenge them to a game, or let them roam free to add their own creations. Players can submit their game designs as a featured island or for inclusion in a special area called the Block. (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, iOS, Android, Mac)
Overwatch is a popular team-based online shooter with its own esports league, but there’s still room for creative expression. Overwatch Workshop is a simplified scripting tool where players can create their own games with custom rules and conditions and then share them with others. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
As Mario is one of the most recognizable video game characters around, it a smart move on Nintendo’s part to give fans the opportunity to make their own Mario levels in Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2. While these games come with complete levels, the focus is really on using the tools to create unique levels of your own, sharing them with the community for feedback, and checking out what others have made. (Nintendo Switch)
The LittleBIGPlanet franchise has long been known as a creative and quirky place to play. All three of the games (including LittleBIGPlanet 2 and LittleBIGPlanet 3) have a level design mode, and they have become increasingly sophisticated over time. Players unlock all sorts of objects, buttons, colors, special effects, decorative stickers, and more as they complete levels. These can all be used to create imaginative new levels to share with the community. Likewise, there is a wealth of community-created content to download and play. (PlayStation 4)
Roblox differs from the other games on this list as it’s actually a game design platform as opposed to a game in and of itself. Players design their games and then release them for the community to enjoy. And with millions of people logging in each month, there are plenty of games to explore when you’re in them mood for a creative break. Another unique aspect of Roblox is that designers can actually profit from the games they release by selling in-game content to other players. It’s a great platform for kids who think they might want to go into game design as a career. (Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Fire OS)
Kerbal Space Program manages to walk the line between real-world physics and ridiculous fun as players help alien Kerbals launch their own space program. What spacecraft would you build with all of the resources and none of the constraints? Sandbox mode (via the Making History Expansion pack) gives you room to decide. A mission builder also allows you to create custom missions to share with others. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac, Wii U)
If you like building in Minecraft, but vehicles are your thing, TerraTech is a good choice. Set out on inter-planetary missions to collect much-needed resources to build your own fleet of vehicles. Not interested in combat or challenges? Creative mode allows you to build as you please with no one to interrupt you. (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac, SteamOS)
10. Planet Coaster
Planet Coaster kicks the idea of custom theme park game design up a notch by adding a number of creative tools. Players can design their own coasters, “paint” on terrain, and customize buildings, but that’s not all. With a scenario editor and a sandbox mode, there’s plenty of space to put creative ideas into action. Still not satisfied? The Thememakers Toolkit allows players to upload their 3D models for incorporation in the game. (PC)
Creative modes in games are growing in popularity, so no matter what type of game you enjoy, there’s a creative option out there to set your imagination free. For example, we use Minecraft and Roblox in a lot of our programming here at Connected Camps because they give kids the freedom to make their ideas come to life. Armed with all of these choices, it’s time to head on out and start designing!