Gameplay in most game modes of Minecraft consists mainly of adding and destroying a variety of different blocks in a randomly generated world.
With these blocks, players can manipulate the world around them, building and destroying structures. As gameplay in Minecraft is so open and unguided, players often set their own goals and play the game as they see fit. An example of this is the Minecraft sport, Spleef.
Animation summarizing the Creative, Survival and Hardcore game modes
The five game modes in Minecraft are Survival, Creative, Adventure, Spectator and Hardcore. In the level.dat, Survival mode is gametype=0, Creative is gametype=1, Adventure is gametype=2, and Spectator is gametype=3. Hardcore is Survival with the addition of hardcore=1 (for Survival and Creative, hardcore=0). This knowledge allows hacking to change game modes by editing the world's level.dat. The command "/gamemode" can be used to switch between these. Example: "/gamemode 1" would put you into creative mode.
In this mode, players have to gather all their materials to build, craft and gain experience points. There is a health, hunger and armor bar, an inventory and, when underwater, an oxygen bar.
The player will have access to an infinite amount of almost all blocks and items available, and can destroy them instantly. Players are invulnerable and do not have health, armor, or hunger, and can fly. The player has access to items not available in Survival mode, e.g.spawn eggs. The player will not see command blocks if you look through the creative GUI - you need to spawn command blocks with the /give or /setblock commands.
Players can interact with objects such as levers and buttons, and can interact with mobs. However, they can only break blocks with tools with a CanDestroy data tag, and only place blocks if the block they are holding has a CanPlaceOn data tag, making this mode good for adventure maps.
In this mode, which plays in the same way as Survival mode, the difficulty level is permanently set to "Hard" and the map must be deleted upon the player's death.
Technically, Hardcore is a game mode modifier rather than a game mode. However, without cheating, it is only possible to get "Hardcore Survival". To attain "Hardcore Creative" mode, the player must edit the game world with external tools, or opening to LAN, and enabling cheats. There is almost no visible difference between "Hardcore Creative" and "Non-Hardcore Creative", because in Creative mode the only way to die is to fall into the Void or the /kill command. Because of this, "Hardcore" usually refers to "Hardcore Survival". On a server, if someone dies, they will be banned.