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Great Games for Creative People (That I’ve Played)

Looking for games that let you be creative? Check out this article for some great games that let you express yourself!

Official art for RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic, Minecraft, and Spore. (Credit: From left to right, Atari, Mojang, Electronic Arts)

With summer upon us, many young people find themselves with a surplus of free time. And while gaming is a great form of entertainment, some of us aren’t content to merely play. Some gamers may be looking for a form of creative expression when playing.

What makes a game good for “creativity” anyways?

This is a question that is honestly very subjective. Make no mistake, this article isn’t the be-all end-all list of “best games to ever exist for creatives” but rather a compilation of relatively popular games that I’d personally recommend to anyone searching for a creative outlet through gaming. As such, this list isn’t exactly definitive, but should span a wide variety of genres nonetheless.

Many of the games best suited to creativity are in the sandbox genre, or offer various “creative” modes that remove inherent limitations. And while these are amazing for creative expression, there are plenty of games in other genres that also allow for creativity.

This brings us to the first game I want to discuss, and one that I honestly doubt anyone was expecting to see here.

Fallout 4: From Wasteland To Wonderland

Title: Fallout 4
Release Year: 2015
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X/SeriesS
Genre: FPS, Action-RPG

One may scoff at the idea that Fallout 4 could be a bastion of creativity, especially given that it’s an FPS action RPG at heart. So why is the game here? The character customization is one thing that jumped out at me when I first played the game. I was able to play as a charismatic genius who could tinker with deadly robots and turn enemy combatants against one another with a simple command. But expression through my character isn’t the main reason I bring up Fallout 4 in particular.

A settlement’s bar shown off in Fallout 4’s E3 reveal showcase. (Credit: Bethesda)

Fallout 4 harbors a mechanic that is often overlooked by many players. That being, the settlement-building system. This gameplay feature allows for any of the wasteland settlements to be customized to your heart’s content.

Despite all the jokes and memes about Preston Garvey and the Minutemen faction nagging the player about “another settlement that needs your help” the settlement mechanic allows for a ton of creative expression through building homesteads for your fellow survivors.

A common misconception I often encounter is that all “creative” games are about building or crafting things, and to an extent, Fallout 4’s settlement system might play into that misconception. But there are plenty of games that don’t follow the building and crafting loop, yet still allow creativity to flourish. Case in point…

ULTRAKILL: Creative Expression Through Skill And Mastery

Title: ULTRAKILL
Release Year: 2020 (Early Access, Final Release TBD)
Platforms: PC
Genre: FPS, Boomer Shooter

ULTRAKILL is a fascinating game, and has seen a steady surge in popularity in the months of late 2023 going into 2024. It’s a high-octane fast-paced FPS, borrowing elements from contemporaries like the DOOM series, and character action games like Devil May Cry. The game follows a linear level-based structure but encourages replaying already completed levels with secrets to find, and lots of fun technical movement to learn and master.

Hakita (the lead developer of ULTRAKILL) showcasing one of the game’s various enemy types. (Credit: YouTube/@Hakita)

In ULTRAKILL, you’re rewarded for your ability to think on your feet and figure out new ways to chain together weapon attacks and movement options, allowing for a vast amount of expression through your play-style and arsenal choices. Some players may prioritize getting up close and personal with the recently added Jackhammer weapon, while others may prefer to leap and zip around the battlefield with movement tech such as “slam storage” or “rocket surfing” and lots more.

You are bound to witness your skill grow in-game, as long as you keep moving in battle and innovate upon your preferred strategies and play-style. Features like the Sandbox mode and the Cybergrind also allow for lots of ways to have fun in a more non-linear setting. But for something not fast paced, but still strategic, the next game may just scratch that itch.

Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic: Reliving Retro Glory

Title: RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic
Release Year: 2016 (Mobile), 2017 (PC)
Platforms: PC, Mobile
Genre: Simulation, Strategy

RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic (or RCTC for short) is a remixed version of the classic hit-game RollerCoaster Tycoon. This version of the game includes much of the content from both the original RollerCoaster Tycoon and its sequel, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. By bundling the content from both games into one, the game ends up with a wealth of challenging scenarios that allow for both creativity and strategy to thrive.

As shown in the trailer, the game puts you in charge of running your own amusement parks, complete with rides, amenities, and yes, roller coasters. The creative side of the game truly opens up with the roller coasters and other rides that allow for custom track layouts. That combined with the terrain limitations and challenges presented in later levels keeps the game feeling fresh.

You could make a roller coaster on a mountain level that tunnels through the mountain itself. Or a simple train ride that snakes around your entire park providing a fun method of transportation. There’s even a level-editor to create your own dream parks or challenges for other players to tackle. While we’re on the topic of creating things, I think its about time to move onto the game that everyone would expect to see listed.

Minecraft: Making A World Your Own

Title: Minecraft
Release Year: 2011
Platforms: Java Edition: PC. Bedrock Edition: PC, Mobile, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X/SeriesS
Genre: Sandbox, Survival

Here we have the poster-child for creative gaming. I’m sure almost everyone reading this is at least aware of Minecraft and its general premise. You’re dropped into a world and are given little to no instruction.

It is this wideness that allows for various creative outlets to emerge. Want to build a medieval castle as your base? Go for it. Looking to make a more modern-styled home? It’s certainly possible. Building is a cornerstone of Minecraft’s creative features, but in recent times this may be overlooked by some players.

All too often you’ll see people play the game for a week or two, and blaze through the exploration and combat focused content, only to burn out and no longer enjoy it. This might happen because some players may not be taking advantage of the creative aspects, instead focusing purely on progression and optimization.

A shot from the cinematic trailer showing off Minecraft’s recent Tricky Trials update. (Credit: Mojang)

But if you’ve ever found yourself in that two-week playthrough to burnout pipeline, consider some of these suggestions. Instead of making an optimized villager trading box, maybe build them their own homes or expand the original village? Or consider making endgame resource farms in different places with accompanying builds. Maybe having one or two bigger projects on the backburner to complete slowly can help.

These ideas all boil down to one concept for me. Playing inefficiently to prioritize creativity. Doing so isn’t a perfect solution, but for some it may replace a slippery slope to burnout with creative drive. Regardless of how you play though, Minecraft is all about making a world your own. But what if one world isn’t enough?

Spore: Making Your Own Worlds

Title: Spore
Release Year: 2008
Platforms: PC
Genre: Sandbox, God Game

Spore, to put it simply, is all about speculative alien evolution. The game progresses through various stages of your alien’s evolution. Each stage has a different genre/style associated with it. But the one commonality between each stage is that you’re tasked to create everything, from your playable creatures, to their architecture, cars, spaceships, and more.

But this cult-classic game isn’t so much remembered for its gameplay, but rather for a striking potential for creative expression. And this sentiment appears to be common for many who have played the game.

@mr.zanadood

Replying to @bluebadger228 #greenscreen to be fair this game came out in 2008 I thought it was older #gamingontiktok #teachergamer #gamersoftiktok #spore

♬ original sound – Zanadood

All of the creation in this game happens in “editors” which all share a drag-and-drop mechanic to add parts to your creation. This makes the game very approachable for casual players who just want to make neat looking creations. Despite the game’s age, people still upload new things to the Sporepedia, where players can download one another’s creations. One feature I adore is that anything you create in the editors has a good chance of showing up in any of the game’s stages for you (or other players if you upload your creation) to interact with.

But what did I mean about “making your own worlds” anyway? Just one year after the game released, the massive Galactic Adventures expansion pack followed. Unlike modern cases of DLC or microtransactions, this pack added numerous brand-new features. Below is the old and cheesy trailer for said expansion.

Among the added features is an entire level editor, which allows really creative players to tell stories, create mini-games and challenges, or just show off their creations to the world. The potential of not just this level editor, but Spore’s creative tools in general have made storytelling and creative expression accessible for many people, including myself.

Final Thoughts And Why These Games?

Why did I choose these games in particular? The answer lies with me. I honestly feel like I owe a lot to these games as they’ve shaped my love for both gaming and creative expression throughout my life.

Fallout 4’s settlement building helped me get through 2020’s pandemic-induced isolation. ULTRAKILL offered me hours upon hours of entertainment recently, while showing me how satisfying skill-based games are to learn and master. RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic let me build the parks of my dreams when attending one in real life wasn’t an option. Minecraft isn’t always on my radar anymore but is a classic that I love returning to now and then to express myself.

And last, but not least in the slightest, Spore. Spore helped shape my love for not only video games, but creative expression, speculative evolution, even storytelling and writing itself. This might be corny to say, but were it not for my love for creative expression through games like Spore, I may not be the writer I am now.

So go, and check out any of the games I’ve written about, as their creative sides may just be the spark needed to kickstart a new passion.

Written By

I'm an English Major and Writing Minor who wishes to write engaging, entertaining, and thoughtful works about the topics I am passionate about. At the moment, I am especially interested in topics such as the medium of writing itself, web/indie animation, video games, literary criticism, and prehistory/paleontology.

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