Squire’s paper Open-ended video games: A model for developing learning for the interactive age explores the educational potential of open-ended video games, aka sandbox games and explains how the modal can be applied to facilitate learning.
This topic has triggered my interest since long ago and I have seen my students fascinated by Minecraft, learning resources management and creativity through that game. In fact, Minecraft has been viewed by many educators as of high educational value.
A lot of sandbox games can stimulate the creativity and interest of players, such as the famous Sims serious. I personal have been playing the game since high school, and I still play it once in a while, sometimes simply creating my imaginary life for my sims, sometimes building houses, or having fun with creating stories. There’s no a certain style of gameplay restrained in the game, and that’s why it can motivate so many talented players all round the world to create mods, houses, etc around the game. Many creators even become real designers. Some use the game as a tool to design their dream house.
That being said, sandbox games also have their shortcomings. Like GTA mentioned in the article, the game depicts violent scenes and thus raised many controversies. In fact, I just read in news that it was recently been removed off shelves from all Target Australia stores because of too much sexual violence against women.