Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Laying Some Groundwork: Sandbox Gaming

I started writing an article on utilizing character flaws to generate story when I realized that I was operating on several assumptions about my audience, both in their style of gaming and their basic understanding of story structure. So, I've decided to lay down a quick foundation. The articles to follow, although they may be applied to other styles, will be targeted at people running "sandbox" style games. It is my preferred style of play, and so I naturally feel it is the best.

So, what is Sandbox gaming?

Well, basically there are three types of games: Story Driven, Character Driven, and Sandbox.

Story driven games are best represented by pre-made modules and organized play events. The GM creates a story and the players show up to run through it. Although the characters can affect the outcome of story driven games their backgrounds have little effect on the story itself. This is great for groups with a rotating cast, or players who really just want to boot, shoot, and loot.

Character driven games are on the other end of the spectrum. The Players create elaborate backgrounds and drive the story with their character's goals. The world is created as the players need it. The game leaves room for infinite growth, but relies heavily on the players to keep the story moving. This type of gaming is great for frustrated novelists, lazy GMs, or people who prefer very rules light settings.

Now, sandbox gaming sits directly in the middle, equal parts GM input and Player input. The GM creates a world, the players create characters with strong backgrounds and the two are merged. This style allows the players the freedom to pursue their own agenda, but they must also contend with the machinations of the GM.   I love this style of play because it is highly collaborative and allows everyone to be part of creating the story. This type of gaming is great for people who want to have good games. (I'm a little biased.)

I hope that explains basically what I mean when I say "sandbox gaming." Next article I'll breakdown the basics of story structure.

1 comment:

  1. I've always liked sandbox gaming but find it is difficult to get players that can build or actually seek out creating a narrative on their own is difficult.

    I was spoiled when I was younger.