A sandbox is a style of game in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing the gamer to roam and change a virtual world at will. In contrast to a progression-style game, a sandbox game emphasizes roaming and allows a gamer to select tasks. Instead of featuring segmented areas or numbered levels, a sandbox game usually occurs in a “world” to which the gamer has full access from start to finish. [1]Janssen, Cory. “What Is Sandbox (in Gaming)? – Definition from Techopedia.” Techopedias. Web. 28 Aug. 2015.

The terms “sandbox” and “open world” seem to have a lot of overlap. However, definitions exist that distinguish between them, primarily in that “sandbox” is sometimes attributed to a game that permits the player to modify the environment of the game world in some significant and lasting way.[2]“What Does “Open World”/”Sandbox” Really Mean?” What Does “Open World”/”Sandbox” Really Mean? Unity Forums, 19 Nov. 2009. Web.

We will treat these terms as interchangeable, but may call out differentiating characteristics in specific uses.

See also Open World Game.


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