How genres shape the impact of a game: Forum for Creativity

Genres and what a game means to a player

The use of genres to identify and categorize the content of different forms of art is nothing new, however the change in genre in games can have a massive impact on the gameplay experience.  The differences and defining points of genres within gaming have grown and expanded in recent decades to include all manner of mechanical systems, progression models, and player rewards. Today I will be analyzing Minecraft, which I believe exemplifies games as a forum for creativity.

Forum for creativity

In adventure / builder game Minecraft the player is placed in a procedurally generated world and left to fend for themselves.  Though recent iterations of the game now include a core objective, the title’s main appeal is that the player is free to explore the world, collect resources, and build objects and structures from those resources. With this autonomy and easy to use mechanics of brick breaking resource collection, and brick laying construction, players have been able to use Minecraft as a platform for creative expression. Using the game mechanics and tools to create everything ranging from pixel art walls, to statues, to simple structures, to full recreations of fantastical cities.

pixel-art-minecraftminecraft-king-kongminecraft-towerminecraft-city(A few examples of the varied creations players have made within Minecraft, ranging from simplistic to highly detailed)

  • Mechanical systems:
    • Resource discovery & collection: A major part of the gameplay in Minecraft relies upon going out into the world and discovering materials and resources with which to construct the creative visions of the player.  Once the player finds a resource such as wood, they go about chopping down a tree and collecting the wood to be used in construction.
    • Construction & resource management: Once the player has amassed the resources they need they can begin construction which takes the same basic mechanics of collection and uses them to place bricks of a given resource.
  • Progression model:
    • Completion of structures: As the player builds within their world they get to explore, alter, live within, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
    • Altering the game world: As the player seeks out resources and uses them to construct their own creations they alter the landscape of the game, and shape its destiny through destruction and construction.
  • Player rewards:
    • Creative fulfillment: Building objects and structures is something that is in itself a rewarding process, the added bonus of having said creation come from the will of the player, designed and constructed per their design intentions, makes the construction process a fulfilling one.
    • Sharing creations with others: A core part of Minecraft’s continued success has come from the players’ ability to share their creations with each other and even allow their friends to visit their worlds to interact with and witness their creations firsthand. I explored the key to Minecraft’s explosive growth among children in my article Minecraft at my friend’s house: organic growth among children. 

minecraft-city-2(Minecraft players using the game to build the capitol city from Game of Thrones, you can see their work at their website

This is the fourth installment in my series titled How genres shape the impact of a game, if you enjoyed it please feel free to read through the other articles within the series: CompetitionRoleplaying Narratives, Meditative Spaces. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.


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