Creative Play

Part 5 of 6 of an ongoing series about the six activity modes.

Creative mode activities are sometimes hard to find within what we would consider the integral part of game play, but it often appears as a precursor or reward to game play. How many games have the option to dress the avatar before gameplay commences or reward the player by purchasing items and decorating their hideaway? This manipulation has taken the spot that paper dolls or make-up mannequins held during my childhood. Both boys and girls engage in this activity, but I certainly observe girls spending hours dressing their characters.

Marvel’s Create your own Super-Hero certainly appealed to this comic book-loving geek, but it has some of the inherent issues in these templatized activities. The player can only choose the typical female super hero body– pneumatic breasts not effected by this world’s gravity. Tall and lean, both the male and female bodies are completely unrealistic, but you are not limited in your color palette, making it possible to choose features and skin tone of any race. The brief Google search for dress-up games yield TONS of hits, but the majority were white, very thin images. Be cautious when designing your own avatars and be more inclusive, please.

The Sims,  Roller Coaster Tycoon and all the tremendous numbers simulation games were ultimately just vessels to create different worlds. While there were different challenges, a great deal of fun was had creating a personalized world with a color scheme and layout at the discretion of the player. It was not a huge coincidence that it was called a “god’s eye” perspective.

I’ve long thought that Andy Deck’s stuff was odd, interesting and thought-provoking. Here at Collabyrinth, he lets people create icons and then publishes them into a maze that displays the most recent users’ work.

Moving into the music world, this activity allows children to easily create music and sounds.

Finally, in Copy Cat, players recreate the images that appear on the screen. More of a problem-solving than a pure creative task, it does include aspects of color theory and the breaking down of space necessary for certain kinds of artwork.

I’m well aware that the activities for this blog entry are not strictly games, but I do think that these links provide activities that are compelling for a lot of users– and that it’s important to include opportunities for learners to create in free-form ways. Oftentimes as designers, we (or our employers) have a strong desire to lockdown the learner experience to predictable paths. Including creative activities challenge that structure.

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