View Full Version : Video Games Versus Digital Sandboxes

12-26-2018, 07:28 PM
A game is an activity providing amusement with a win state or an end goal such as getting the highest score, surviving for the longest, or defeating the final boss. Sandbox titles like Animal Crossing, Minecraft, Harvest Moon, Terraria, Story of Seasons, The Sims, and Stardew Valley have no defined endpoint. Therefore, are these pieces of entertainment really just digital toys / sandboxes with a lot of content or are they actual, proper games?

12-28-2018, 12:34 PM
I love sandbox games. They may not have a defined "ending" but you can certainly do well or poorly in many of them. For instance, in SimCity, you can have a crime and pollution infested hell hole or a gleaming utopia, in any size you want. I love the flexibility of sandbox games and they're most of what I play. Perhaps it's a generational thing; I was born in 1992, and there was a big wave of these types of games in the early 2000s, so I grew up on them.

12-28-2018, 04:04 PM
I'm not a real stickler on these things. Even something like, say, Art Alive on Genesis I would refer to as a video game, even though it's just a paint program. Sometimes it's more the platform that makes me refer to something as a video game than the content of the "game" itself. From my experience, when people want to deny labeling something as a "video game", it's usually an act of elitism and derision, like people who dislike stuff like visual novels and "walking simulators" and don't believe those genres "deserve" to be called video games.

I'm not a fan of sandbox games, but I have no problem with referring to them as video games. I can't say I've ever seen Harvest Moon as a sandbox series, though. I don't know what the recent games are like, but the old ones have endings (and the first one doesn't even let you continue to play beyond the ending). Even if a game doesn't have a way to get a "game over", I would still say games that have various endings that are more positive than others have win/lose conditions. The best ending is the goal, and a poor ending is a "loss" (though, story-wise, I often like bad endings even more than good endings).

12-28-2018, 10:34 PM
Animal Crossing is one of the greatest games I have ever played. It is a game that has reminded me that its okay to jist relax sometimes and take a breather. To me it is mostly an excuse to kill time while listening to a relaxing soundtrack.

The only problem i have with the game is that if you didnt buy it brand new, youre not able to get 100% of the items because the NES games were preloaded on the memory cards and those get erased when you start a new game

12-29-2018, 11:01 PM
I consider sandbox games as video games. You're still in control. I consider adventure games such as Police Quest, King's Quest, Snatcher, Heavy Rain, etc, as video games. I'll only consider that it's not a video game where you have essentially no control over anything but what kind of text is going to display, and at that point, it's not a video game.

It's not easy though to say, "I like sandbox games" or "I don't like sandbox games" because all games are different. I do think that some sandbox games are good, but I think that without any goal and without a lot of real content, many of these sandbox games become a real chore to play.

Animal Crossing for instance. I honestly believe that it's the Nintendo fan bias being the reason why the game sells so much and has so many fans, but hey, maybe people just like it. However, playing both the Gamecube game and DS game, you go around shaking trees, digging up piles of dirt for artifacts, catching butterflies, and 15 minutes after you do all this there's nothing to do other than either go back and forth over and over delivering items for the residents or quit and repeat the same crap the next day. After literally minutes, you've done everything the Animal Crossing games have to offer.

Compare Animal Crossing to even the earliest Harvest Moon games, where the games are similar in style, but you just have so much more depth in Harvest Moon. Now if Nintendo would actually push to advance Animal Crossing in a way that developers pushed to advance the Harvest Moon genre of games, then I wouldn't judge the series so harshly, but it's a trash series where each new game gives next to no advancement and it's barely any upgrade from the last.

Play the latest Animal Crossing and now you can not only build up your house but place random structures in your town. Compare those to Fantasy Life and you can not only design your characters house up how you want it, but you also have gameplay with several different class styles, whether it's the four different styles of hunter classes, the four different trade classes, and the four different collection classes. This game is now like Monster Hunter, The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing all rolled up into one. What's the point in having a game like Animal Crossing that's sandbox when you have a non sandbox game that does everything it does and then some?


Even a sandbox game like Minecraft I don't care for. These games allow the player to do alot, but the idea behind it all is a massive grind. There's no direction, there's no idea what to do, just grind until you figure stuff out. Spend hours exploring to find the item that allows you to craft something new, etc.

I actually think that Dragon Quest Builders took what Minecraft did and made it better as a game than Minecraft or any other Minecraft ripoff could ever do. Want to advance and create new items? It's not going to take you several hours to do so, just follow where the quest leads and you'll continue unlocking new content. The game gives you a very specific goal and unlock very few of these games, the game continues to give you goals, continues to give you objectives. You don't just come across random blind luck stages that just happen to look great. A lot of these areas within the game are handcrafted alongside all the randomness. Each area in the game progresses you to the points that will allow you to get the crafting materials that you specifically need. The game is a sandbox but the game also has an ultimate goal, it actually leads the player and because of that it's not just mindless boredom. The developers didn't just slap together a game and force the player to have fun.

If I'm going to pay for your game, I shouldn't have to be the conductor of the experience. The developer should put forth that effort and not just make a world full of randomized bullshit in hopes that I enjoy myself.