Games that have design elements baked into their gameplay have a big place in my heart. I'm one of those people who spent more time designing houses in The Sims rather than running my Sims lives or creating levels in LittleBigPlanet. For kindred spirits looking for similar experiences, here are some good choices.
The Sims 3
Starting off strong (and most redundant) is The Sims franchise. The aim of the game is to create a Sim (an avatar of your choosing), give them a personality, and build a house for them to live in. This is the step that is incredibly detailed with hundreds of furniture, flooring and wallpaper options to make the home designing possibilities virtually endless.
Another obvious pick for this list, Minecraft is the unstoppable open world game that is part adventure and part creativity. Go online and mine ingredients to craft tools, armor, and building materials to create yourself whatever your heart desires. Hundreds of videos online are picture proof of what's possible to make and that the only limit is the player's imagination.
Although Scribblenauts isn't visually design oriented, the game definitely tests players imaginations in order to solve problems. The premise is that the main character, Maxwell, has a magic notebook that brings whatever he writes to life. Faced with numerous objectives, the player can use the full extent of their vocabulary and creativity to solve these problems.
If you love Mario Kart, you'll love ModNation Racers. The main difference is that you can customize your go-kart to any shape or color and decorate it with collectible stickers. Not only that but the track design mode goes the extra mile and offers users the ability to create their own course.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Several months ago I reviewed Animal Crossing for the 3DS and found that the franchise is strongly moving forward while staying true to its interior design roots. It's a very zen-like game that doesn't have a solid objective other than to live your life in a small village where you can collect furniture to decorate your home.
If you have a Playstation Vita, you need Tearaway. Brought to life by the same people behind the incredible LittleBigPlanet series, the construction paper theme, and touchscreen papercraft creation system all work together seamlessly for Sony's powerhouse handheld. Swiping your finger on the virtual construction paper, you can create your own outfit for your adorable avatar
While technically not a game, Nintendo's Art Academy for the 3DS and Wii U is a great use of the stylus/touchscreen combination for hands-on learning. Learn various artistic mediums such as graphite pencils, colored pencils, pastel, and paint in 30 lessons, or go crazy on a blank canvas just for fun.
Forza 5 is the latest racer for Microsoft's brand new XBox One and you may be wondering why it belongs on this list. A big feature is the incredibly in-depth customizable car mode where you can add your own drawn decals, pick and place ones pre-existing in the game, and choose a color. Once done you can upload it for other users to vote on and download for their own use!
(Image credits: Forza 5 / Minecraft / ModNation Racers / Animal Crossing: New Leaf)