Sandbox Gamification: the next big thing!

Holliday season! A lot of people will bring their family to the beach; after the dessert the largest Sandbox that exists on this planet. The sandbox at the beach is better for our creativity, because it’s next to water. Water and sand are the only ingredients our young children need, to shape their imagination. They can spend hours and hours in the sand building the weirdest structures and guess what? Daddy is always there to assist. Because in his heart Daddy still loves playing with sand as well. Even if Daddy denies this there are thousands of impressive sand sculptures that are build by adult hands. Building things where one is only limited by imagination seems to be inspiring to many of us.

The reason why sandbox games are so popular does not differ from the reason why people like to play with sand and water. The things that people build with these raw materials are just incredible. A lot of people are creative and get enjoyment out of building things. Children that play in a sandbox are prove that it starts at a very young age.

In sandbox games we are given the opportunity to be creative again. If we want to bring this powerful tool to the real world, the difficult part would be creating the building blocks. The building blocks are a layer above specific, difficult to understand, elements. Those building blocks are in the eyes of the builder understandable raw material, that makes it possible for none specialists to create something useful. This approach makes it possible to:

  1. create new products;
  2. develop city plans;
  3. improve organizations.

    Another powerfull Gamification mechanism that we can borrow from the game industry. A good real life sandbox mechanism makes crowd innovation possible. That’s why it’s the next big thing, innovation is key to survive in modern times. When it becomes possible to innovate with a lot of people together, innovation will occur more often and faster than ever before. Combined with a meaningful challenge mechanism the crowd will be fully charged to  innovate.



  1. I totally agree with you. It is the right time to take gamification to the next level and that’s exactly why we are already working on a platform that may unleash people’s creativity.

  2. Great example!

    When I talk about gamification I first ask if it would be ok to hand out Lego pieces. People look at me funny at this point.
    After the lecture, during which amazing things are built, the point is understood. All we need is some building material and out creativity is out on the loose.

    But now I can give another example :-)

  3. Hi Horst,

    Just let me make a litle joke, “They can spend hours and hours in the sand”… even without points, levels and badges :)

    • Horst Streck

      No joke, reality. Points, levels and badges aren’t the only way :)

      • i would go as far as to say that points, levels and badges are often the opposite of building a good system of challenges that leads to desired behavior. Points badges and levels do trigger people, but it give the challenge a temporary vibe. People only really try to go for quick wins and are not interested enough because these elements in gameplay promote score as a reference instead of mastery. They do not drive real behavior, since real behavior is triggered amongst others by the emotion of shared experience or full emersion. By merely using the points badges and levels you teach them a trick instead of a lesson

  4. Using the crowd in this “sandbox” was effectively applied in the Fold It game where the previous secret tools of scientists were revealed so that the rest of the world was able to play with these tools. This lead the gamers to discover a new protein molecule. The transparency of these building blocks from a closed group to an open crowd is key to gamifying the present compendium of human knowledge to solve the big problems, like pollution, and bring about positive change. :)

    • Horst Streck

      I know about Fold It. That is an awesome example! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’ve updated my link if you’d like to visit my home page. My comment is shown above. -Brett

  6. Leo Lopes

    Along with the Internet of Things, Gamefication will arrive to the masses!

  7. Robert Drage

    I totally agree with the concept of how a sandbox games can spark creativity in people for instance Minecraft and the things that people have built together. But one of the problems when speaking of crowd innovation is not to get people to think creatively but to inspire teamwork and collaboration across the span that is required to complete the project and this can be achieved by working towards a greater goal. Incentives that are given for specific areas of work and the criteria that people must fulfill to be able to qualify for said incentives.


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