From Valheim To The Sims, I Can’t Stop Buying Games That Let Me Build

It’s Friday night, and my friends have promised they have a game I’ll like for our usual get-together. I don’t hear most of the explanation, but my ears perk at someone casually mentioning, “it’s got building mechanics in it.” Building, you say? I can craft an endless neighborhood of houses, organize resources, and unlock new design goodies? “I’m in,” they knew that would hook me. Apparently, I’m paying full price for some game called Green Hell so I can build another messy shelter in the forest. I never leave our base – I just stay in one spot, building for hours, while my friends bring me resources to expand our home. This is a common theme for me though, from Valheim to The Sims, I just love games that let me build.

It doesn’t have to be a survival game, but my building experiences usually happen there. My friends and I have played them all: The Forest, Valheim, Green Hell, Raft, Terraria, Ark, Rust, the list goes on. They’re a versatile bunch. They can build, hunt, gather, fight, but I don’t really know what exists beyond the walls I craft. My friends and I have a certain order to things in these games, I build – they do everything else. I’m thankful they aren’t pressed to build with me, because I get weirdly frustrated when someone imposes upon my crafting space. This is how it’s been for years, though – they hate sitting at our houses while I can’t stand leaving.

Of course, this means we’ve also joined the latest Valheim trend. In our Viking world, I honestly don’t know what any of the bosses look like beyond the second one, and even then, I only went reluctantly. There are entire biomes I hear my friends talk about, but I have never explored, even if I’m the one who organized the teleportation devices to those locations. If you were to look at my Valheim playtime on Steam, you might assume I’ve done it all – but I haven’t. I just build.

And that’s the story behind any game I own that involves construction. I mentioned survival titles first, mostly because building is a staple of the genre. However, I’ve spent days on end carefully crafting absurd feats of architecture in games like The Sims or Dragon Quest Builders. In The Sims 4, I don’t think I’ve honestly ever managed the day-to-day life of home’s inhabitants. I just work on mansions, restaurants, and parks.

I’m not sure what the draw is, either. Plenty of the crafting systems are different enough, but you’d think after a while, I’d grow tired of building. Even when friends abandon our adventures together, I’ll often stay behind for weeks to finish up my projects. And in games that don’t sport these elements, I find myself longing for them. I wonder where it started, too. Was it Dark Cloud back on the PS2? Perhaps my adventures in Theme Park on the PS1?

I always manage to amaze my friends with the hundreds of hours I can sink into the same task, but I love the level of freedom these games give me. I look at my bizarre creations in Terraria, my rows of coffee shops and Italian food joints in The Sims, and I don’t know where the time went. There’s something that just clicks there; I let go of daily fights with anxiety and stressful obligations and tune into my little projects for hours. Is there something therapeutic about it? I think so. I’m almost certain that’s it, but it’s hard to put my finger on it. I just know I love building, no matter how large or small a role it plays in a game. I don’t know what game will hook me next, but whatever it is, I guarantee it’ll include some sort of building component.

Next: I Can’t Wait To Play As Iroh In The Avatar Tabletop RPG

  • TheGamer Originals
  • The Sims
  • PC
  • Ark: Survival Evolved
  • Terraria
  • ps4
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Green Hell
  • valheim

Andrea Shearon is a news editor at TheGamer who loves RPGs and anything horror related. Find her on Twitter via @Maajora.

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