Creativity and video games don’t always go hand-in-hand. I mean, it’s not uncommon to picture a “gamer” as someone who’s great at some first-person shooter game or something. Halo? Call of Duty? I don’t know. I might be outdated in my references because I usually hate FPS. 🙂
Point being… gamers aren’t stereotypically creative. If anything, they’re destructive.
But! I’m here to tell y’all: there are games out there that allow for tons of fun with art. And they aren’t even kid-oriented! Yes, that’s right–you can play video games and be creative over the age of 18. You’ll be better off for it!
Now, I present the games:
The Sims 4
I understand this might be a divisive choice because it’s popular and therefore many people have Opinions(TM). But honestly, find me a better game in which you can create people AND houses. I don’t think you can!
(But, um, if you do? Please let me know like yesterday because I would probably love it too.)
If you don’t know Sims at all, essentially what you do is make a person or people (Sim[s]) and set up their house (which can be premade or you can make it however you want) and then… you do whatever you want.
The open-endedness almost makes it difficult to make a case for its addictive game-esque potential, but you can lead your Simulated lives just however you want.
Maybe you want a vegan blogger who barely leaves the house, or a giant traditional family, or a supervillian in a mansion, or [insert whatever you want]. Your sims have a personal appearance, a wardrobe, and a personality you create in Create-A-Sim.
And if you’re like “idk what I want, lol” there are always randomize buttons. So you can see something you hate and then change it. 🙂
Customization potential of The Sims = ridiculous
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the extra layers of creativity that Sims 4 Custom Content (or cc) provides.
There is just So Much out there to download for your sims experience. Like, I don’t know how to quantify it precisely, but as for my personal collection, I have over 2.5 THOUSAND files just from The Sims Resource alone.
I think I might write a whole post just about Sims 4 cc because it’s too much to cover in brief, but basically, you can download not only objects, rooms, entire houses, clothing, makeup, etc, but also scripted mods that change your gameplay. You might want Myers-Briggs-based personality type traits or a nursing career track in your game and the cc community provides.
If you’d like hints on where to start with Sims 4 cc, here’s my Pinterest board devoted to it.
The creative possibilities for Sims gameplay are really pretty endless. And the base game itself is not too expensive. The catch is that EA charges an arm and a leg for expansion packs, which add things like the ability to own pets or perform magic. Just wait for a sale on those, maybe. 😉
I’m really excited to give a shout-out to House Flipper because it’s indie and I’ve loved it since it came out in 2018. It’s the most played game in my Steam library at 506 hours of playtime. I’ve played for the equivalent of three weeks, 24 hours a day. I mean it when I say I love this game. Lol.
The premise of House Flipper is that you’re a handy(wo)man trying to fix up old and/or trashed houses so you can make them pretty and sell them for a profit. The making money dimension is not the focus of the game, though. Making them pretty is where it’s at.
Every house or job you take on has you starting with tasks like cleaning up literal garbage and sometimes vacuuming cockroaches (ew), but you’ll always end up doing a great deal of interior design.
And when I say “interior design,” I mean you, as a one-(wo)man crew, can go in there and change as much or as little about the house as you want. Don’t like that wall? Take a sledgehammer to it. Oh, whoops, you needed that? Rebuild it!
Then you do all the painting/siding/paneling/flooring and then you have a huge catalogue of furniture and decorations to make the house look like an actual home.
This part is the most time-consuming part, really. You’ll spend most of the time choosing and arranging furniture to your (and your buyer’s) liking. Although I should say, again, the emphasis is not really on the people-pleasing objectives but rather the potential to do whatever you want.
Customization potential of House Flipper = also ridiculous
Speaking of doing whatever you want, House Flipper has a decent modding community, too! So people have taken the time to custom-make basically any object or wall or flooring you can think of.
I used to spend time every day downloading every single item I thought was cool. I did this for probably a few months and eventually got overwhelmed.
The mods are available through the Steam workshop, too, so the downloading process feels considerably less sketchy and is always free. There’s no guarantee that player-made mods won’t dramatically break your save, but, you know, they probably won’t. 🙂
I should also note that if you’re scared by House Flipper’s price tag, bear in mind that it goes on sale pretty often. And it’s so worth it!!
SuchArt! is another indie game on Steam that I absolutely adore. You’re an artist in some future environment where you get your own studio to paint and decorate and weak havoc if you so choose.
That’s because the game feels very realistic and immersive, with amazing physics behind it that make you feel like you are actually throwing paint onto that wall-sized canvas. Or carefully pencilling in the lines on your next tiny masterpiece. You know, whatever.
You do technically do commisioned art “jobs” that will specify canvas size and sometimes the subject or preferred style/colors, but I’m not sure how much the AI actually cares what you paint, as long as it’s the correct canvas size.
With the jobs comes money and thus upgrades to your space and tools. There’s really a lot of content in the game and the devs keep updating it.
But I think what’s most incredible about SuchArt! is that not only is it just a fun and content-rich game, but the artistic potential is surprisingly legitimate. I mean, when you look at the gallery of what other players have created, you have enough tools at your disposal to create genuine virtual works of art. You wouldn’t expect to have that kind of control with this virtual interface and just your mouse and keyboard.
I sincerely hope you give this game a shot because it’s criminally underrated. And there’s a free trial! Please? 🙂
Coloring Game (any/all versions)
I hope you’re not tired of my references to Steam games, because here’s another series on Steam!
This one is arguably less open-ended than any of the others because it’s coloring in predetermined pixel art, but it’s still worth mentioning because it does what it does really well. It may be a simple ask to play a coloring game, but I’ve tried many and this one is by far the best.
I think where they got it right was integrating the idea of coloring with pixel art, because you’re able to zoom in and out without distorting the image or accidentally coloring outside the lines.
My favorite thing about the Coloring Game(s) is just that they’re very relaxing and satisfying. The most complex designs take several hours, though you can always save and return to it later.
There’s just something about coloring so cleanly–the pixels you need to fill in are highlighted for you, too, and so you just legitimately don’t need to worry about anything other than finding all the little gray squares that correspond to the color you have in hand.
Also of note is the plethora of versions and expansion packs available, and all of them are surprisingly cheap. I mean, typically about $1.99 each? Don’t quote me, but that’s in the ballpark.
Hopefully at least one of these games speaks to you! Video games don’t have to be about violence and shooting. They can also be about creativity and art!
Thank you for reading and I’ll see you soon!