Crafting in Video Games


So, lately, I’ve been seeing a ton of games featuring a crafting system of some sort or another. Crafting has become kind of a huge selling point for games these days, and seeing all of it has gotten me asking why.

Crafting is a surprisingly broad term in video games. Sometimes when a game features crafting as one of its selling points, it refers mostly to simply modding in-game items and equipment, kind of like the “weapon crafting” systems in games like Dead Island or Skyrim. Some games offer more, though, and give the players the ability to build their own structures as well as equipment.


The equipment-crafting and settlement-building available in Bethesda’s latest and greatest Fallout 4 are what really turned my eyes to just how prolific the “crafting” tag really is.

So why do we craft?

My best guess is that crafting is just another part of the fantasy that we look for so desperately in our gaming. That is to say that crafting in real life is hard. In fact, for most of us, the kind of crafting that we look for in our video games is completely unobtainable.

Okay, so that might be obvious in terms of building our own zombie murdering death machines, but building anything bigger than a birdhouse is simply out of the question for a lot of people. We can’t just build our own house in the middle of nowhere. In real life it takes a lot of time and money and other such resources to build stuff like that.


Even making our own replicas for our favorite weapons or armor with anything more elegant than duct tape takes certain skill sets that would take years to hone. None of us can really dedicate the time to become the next Man at Arms, and real life tailoring is something that seems obscure to most people.

I think, in general, people like to look at something and say “I made this.” There’s something extremely satisfying in building something with your own two hands, both figuratively and literally. That’s why I enjoy blogging like this so much. It gives us that sense of ownership and propriety. It’s like a natural human urge. Crafting in video games just gives us that feeling without those pesky requirements of time and resources.

Pictured above: a lot of freaking work

That, in a nutshell, is why I think we as gamers create that demand for crafting in our video games. Sometimes it results in crafting systems popping up in weird places, like Fallout, but I still find them to be fun little additions.

5 comments on “Crafting in Video Games”

  1. I must say, I love crafting in my games. Particularly in the Atelier games! And you’re right, I couldn’t even put together a birds house! By the way, the same goes for farming. Farmers all over the world have a hard job, getting up at dawn and working hard. Still, we love running our virtual farms!

    1. Ha, that’s so true. It’s kind of neat how we can sort of experience these things like farming and building through gaming when we otherwise might never have had the chance.

  2. Good crafting systems in games can be soooo addicting! My wife and I are playing Divinity: Original Sin online together and her character is the one with the beefed up Crafting skill. This means that every time we get back to town I basically wander around for a couple hours, watching the townspeople go about their business while she’s finding out if she can make any new things with what we’ve found.

    1. I have such love-hate feelings toward Divinity: Original Sin. The game is phenomenal and tons of fun when you play with a partner, but it’s so hard to consistently play through the same story with another person. It’s awesome that you and your wife can have those games that you can play together like that.

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