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Gaming Projects: Craft Marvellous Machines

Video games are often thought of as turning children into small cogs in a machine. Unchangeable, uncreative and demanding repetition of players. However, there are many games that offer players a chance to be the creators, inventors and instigators of some of the most marvellous machines.

This list offers games picked out with the help of Alom Shaha, Physics teacher, author of Mr Shaha’s Marvellous Machines and father of two. His book offers playful projects that teach about the centre of gravity, toroidal vortexes, smoke-rings and electromagnetism. The games here mirror this combination of wonder and hands-on science.

Some of these, like Stormworks, offer a way to experiment with the physics of fluids and gravity. Others, like Townscaper, are a way to see the impact of the built environment. Then there are games like Chicory: A Colorful Tale, that invite players to bring a world to life with paint.

The overlap between real world messy-craft and these games can be through the inspiration of making things. But also, some of the games (like Tearaway) let you download templates to cut, stick and make the video game characters in real life.

This list includes 32 games from the last 22 years, with 968 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to use craft to learn science.


 

Kirby's Epic Yarn

Release Date: 17/10/2010, updated in 2019

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Wii and Wii U

Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds

Kirby's Epic Yarn is a running and jumping game starring Nintendo's Kirby character that can (usually) suck enemies into their large mouth to gain new abilities. It's set in Patch Land, a world made completely out of fabric. You use your platforming...

Tearaway

Release Date: 22/11/2013, updated in 2015

Platforms: PS Vita and PS4

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Tearaway on PlayStation Vita and Tearaway Unfolded on PlayStation 4 create a game world entirely from paper as the setting for this fantastical adventure. It’s beautiful and funny, and offers a running, jumping exploration challenge. Drawing on...

Nintendo Labo

Release Date: 27/04/2018

Platforms: Switch

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Nintendo Labo is a game themed around physical folding, colouring and cutting. You get a cardboard pack with the game that folds up to make objects into which you slot the screen and controllers. Whether it’s cardboard steering wheels, fishing rods,...

Stormworks: Build and Rescue

Release Date: 28/02/2018

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Stormworks is an open world adventure where you design, build and pilot your own air sea rescue service. You create programmable vehicles using it's block-building system and pilot them into dangerous situations to rescue stricken vessels or...

Townscaper

Release Date: 30/06/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Web, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Townscaper is a town building toy. You pick colours from the range available and click to put down a house in the sea. As you continue to add houses of different colours the game automatically orientates the architecture for you.

Trailmakers

Release Date: 28/02/2020

Platforms: PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

In Trailmakers, you explore an open world in vehicles you have made from Lego-like blocks. Build a car, a plane, a boat or a combination of these, a carplaneboat. The game's physics encourage players to imaginatively combine propulsion, floatation,...

BedWars

Release Date: 19/01/2017

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Bed Wars is a game played on Minecraft servers. It's a game similar to the official Minecraft minigames but created by independent developers.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

Release Date: 10/06/2021, updated in 2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Chicory: A Colourful Tale is an adventure where you play an everyday dog thrust into the role of wielding a magic brush. The world starts black and white and you paint to solve puzzles, help your animal friends and restore colour. It looks like a...

Scribble It

Release Date: 20/10/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Scribble It is a digital take on the classic board game Pictionary. You take turns drawing a word as the other players try to be the first one to guess it. The benefit is that you don't have to be in the same place to play. Also, there's the added...

Scrap Mechanic

Release Date: 20/01/2016

Platforms: PC

Scrap Mechanic is an open world-building game. You collect materials that are used to design machines, vehicles and buildings. You start at the site of a crashed spaceship, with just a few items and must hunt for supplies, fuel and food in order to...

Unravel (Series)

Release Date: 09/02/2016, updated in 2018

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Unravel and the two-player Unravel Two are a pair of jumping and swinging platform games where you control a character made out of wool. As well as making him look super cute, the wool is used to swing around and interact with objects.

Paper Mario: The Origami King (Series)

Release Date: 11/08/2000, updated in 2020

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch, Wii and Wii U

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Paper Mario is a role-play game featuring Mario and other Nintendo characters. Although cute and cartoon-like in appearance, these games are known for the quality of writing and the well balanced and enjoyable turn-based combat.

Yoshi's Crafted World

Release Date: 29/05/2019

Platforms: Switch

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Yoshi's Crafted World is a running and jumping game where you control a friendly dinosaur, Yoshi. You work through each level, eating or jumping on enemies while searching for hidden items and collectables.

Eastshade

Release Date: 14/08/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Eastshade is a slow exploration game in a world you explore by walking around. Here, though, you play as a painter of landscapes rather than typical hero. Your mission is to paint your deceased mother’s favourite sights, but it's the world and its...

Pile Up

Release Date: 18/03/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Pile Up is a running and jumping game where up to four of your play as boxes. You run (slide) and jump around the level and need to jump gaps, open doors and solve puzzles to progress. You need to coordinate with each other to progress through the...

Build A Boat for Treasure (Roblox)

Release Date: 02/11/2016, updated in 2022

Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Build A Boat for Treasure (Roblox) is a strategy game where build your ship (or anything else) from different materials and set sail for adventure. Doing this successfully earns new items and materials for your next build. Although this churn does...

Lawn Mowing Simulator

Release Date: 10/08/2021

Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Lawn Mowing Simulator is an adventure game where you ride an authentic and expansive roster of lawnmowers. The novelty is a combination of absolute control over lawn care and weed eradication. This is extended beyond a brief distraction by the inclusion...

World of Goo

Release Date: 13/10/2008, updated in 2017

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Wii, Wii U and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

World of Goo is a puzzle game where you use balls of goo to create bridges that span increasingly large chasms and obstacles. The game simulates real-world physics to determine if structures are strong enough and when they collapse. This means that...

Lumino City

Release Date: 02/11/2014

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Lumino City is a puzzle adventure game in a hand made world. This is not unusual for a video game, but this world was literally made by hand in a physical studio and then filmed. It creates a unique experience that feels like you are poking around a...

Stonefly

Release Date: 02/06/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Stonefly is a tranquil adventure game where you play the pilot of insect-like mechanical craft. Tiny and living in an outsized world, you use your vehicle to harness the wind and explore the wilderness. As you meet inhabitants, collect resources and...

Vokabulantis

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Vokabulantis is a puppet-animated running and jumping game about two children, Karla and Kurt, who have fallen in love. Just as they find each other though, the world starts falling apart and they discover they can’t speak to each other because their...

Art Academy

Release Date: 25/12/2009, updated in 2016

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS and Wii U

Art Academy is a creative painting game for Nintendo systems, that leads children through step-by-step art lessons. An in-game tutor teaches you to develop basic art skills and techniques. Along with the lessons, there's a free paint mode with all the...

Colors!

Release Date: 05/04/2012, updated in 2020

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Android, PS Vita, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Colors! is a painting game for handheld gaming devices. It introduces concepts of creating digital art in an easy and accessible way. You take on challenges to draw pictures and can share them with others online. You can also play back your drawings to...

Pok Pok Playroom

Release Date: 20/05/2021

Platforms: iOS

Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds

Pok Pok Playroom is a storybook game, filled with interactive digital toys for children to discover and explore as they scroll through a series of settings. It's for children 2-6 years-old and offers open-ended play where the focus isn't on right and...

Rain on Your Parade

Release Date: 15/04/2021

Platforms: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Rain on Your Parade is a slapstick puzzle game where you play a mischievous cloud ruining everybody’s day. "You are a cloud jerk," says the trailer. In each of the varied levels you have to work out what it is you need to do to make people's lives a...

Sloppy Forgeries

Release Date: 26/04/2018

Platforms: PC

Sloppy Forgeries is a painting game where you race an opponent at copying a famous art piece as quickly and accurately as possible. You win by having the largest percentage of paint in the correct areas. The game randomly selects a painting to copy and...

Tori

Release Date: 08/11/2019

Platforms: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Tori combines physical and virtual play. The game comes with toys that you place on a play surface to control the game’s spaceships and catapults. Children can also create and colour their own cardboard versions of the toys and use them to control the...

Weaving Tides

Release Date: 27/05/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Weaving Tides is a puzzle game set in a magical woven world. You ride a carpet dragon that both transports you and weaves fabric into the world to help you advance.

Jett: The Far Shore

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Jett: The Far Shore is a sci-fi adventure where you play inquisitive pilot Mei, exploring a mysterious planet on a nimble jet-powered craft. It draws on films like 2001: Space Odyssey and takes its time building atmosphere. Once it gets going it becomes...

Beglitched

Release Date: 07/10/2016

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Beglitched is a puzzle game that combines Candy Crush's matching with Minesweeper's mapping challenges in missions where you foil computer hackers. Play is first traversing the computer network grid and then taking on hackers in match-three puzzles when...

Craftlands Workshoppe

Release Date: 13/10/2020

Platforms: PC

Craftlands Workshoppe is a strategy game where you build and manage a crafting empire. You start the game by opening your own workshop that can specialize in one of three trades: Blacksmithing, Alchemy, or Cooking.

RPG Time: The Legend of Wright

Release Date: 10/03/2022, updated in 2022

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is an adventure game set in a hand drawn notebook brought to life by an inventive schoolboy. Your adventure takes you through the pages of the book with varied challenges that suit younger players.

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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