Game Element: Construction and Creation

When you are considering creating a learning experience using a game or parts of games, one type of element you can add is the Construction/Creation element.

Utilizing resources to build or create something new or unique requires thinking, creativity and the ability to plan several steps ahead (all items high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy–oops, I mean Bloom’s Taxonomy).

There are several game examples that use the concept construction for game play. One is the classic board game Mouse Trap. In that game, players first work together to build an overly complex and complicated mouse trap by landing on “build” spaces and creating part of the trap. Once the trap has been completed, if a player lands on a “turn the crank” space and an opposing player is on the “cheese wheel” space the player turns the crank to start a the operation of the mouse trap and, if the trap is set up correctly, the opposing players mouse gets caught in a cage and is out of the game.

A video game example of a construction or creation game is Minecraft. In this electronic game, players are able to build all types of things out of textured cubes in a 3D world.


The core game play revolves around placing and breaking blocks. Blocks can be arranged on a grid and represent different materials like ores, dirt, stone, tree trunks and even water. Players gather material blocks and can place them in a pattern of their choice. The “open world” aspect of Minecraft allows player to create virtually anything they can image. Players have built elaborate stadiums, buildings, vehicles, artwork and many other wonderful creations.

Another example of a construction game is Roller Coaster Tycoon. In this electronic game, the player’s task is to build and maintain a successful amusement park. To achieve success, the player has the ability to place rides in the park such as a merry go round, a Ferris Wheel, go-kart and other rides. The player also has the ability to build roller coasters.

Roller Coaster Tycoon

The roller coasters can be custom built by the player using a system where the player chooses the type of track, the curve of the track and other elements to create the type of roller coaster they desire. The coasters can be mild or wild depending on how the player decides to string together the track for the coaster. The player can also modify or change the geography of the park and build up or tear down land.

In learning examples, building structures can be used to teach mathematical or geometrical concepts. Instructors have even had students write essays or stories about the creations they have developed in Minecraft. In gamification examples, provide the learner with an opportunity to earn elements to build something of interest to the learner such as a building or a vehicle. Earning items to place on one’s property can be an engaging process as well as deciding what building block to put into place and how to craft the desired item being constructed.

In fact, this is what Sharon Boller and I are going to be guiding in our new online workshop through the eLearning Guild. If you want to experience constructing of your own game join us for our online class. Here are all the details.

As you are implementing game elements within your learning environment, consider the following when thinking about building or constructing.

  • Provide opportunities for learners to share their creations in a public space so they can “show off” what they have created.
  • Provide simple and specific instruction for basic building.
  • Allow flexibility in what can be built.
  • Provide plenty of time for the building process; if the time allotted is too short, learners will feel like they can never complete the structure they are trying to build.


  1. Karl Kapp July 28, 2014

    Andy, Good catch, I really think I meant Bloom’s taxonomy…that’s what I get for creating a post early in the morning. Thanks again. :)

  2. Andy July 27, 2014

    Maslow’s Hierarchy? Interesting… I thought you were going to go with Bloom’s taxonomy or something like that!