Universe Sandbox

Game review by
Mark Chen, Common Sense Media
Universe Sandbox Game Poster Image
Space sandbox turns our solar system into a playground.
  • Windows
  • $9.99 individual; free for schools
  • 2012

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Universe Sandbox gives players an amazing set of controls to experiment with our universe, letting them learn how mass, size, gravity, and velocity, among other things, all are interconnected and allowing them to play around, testing different ideas on the fly. Players can observe objects in motion in space, comparing moons to planets to stars, and experience physics in action, tweaking conditions and introducing new variables.

Positive Messages

There's no story or narrative; it's only a simulation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No characters.

Ease of Play

Many tutorials are provided to introduce players to the controls and features.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Universe Sandbox is not necessarily a game. It's more a sophisticated visualization and simulation tool that helps players understand astronomy and astrophysics by letting them manipulate planetary and stellar objects in a variety of ways.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynickthenooddle July 13, 2015
Adult Written byBeconbridge March 2, 2020

Learning SPace

My 6 year old has autism and is obsessed with space and he loves this game. He is a little advanced then most kids but it is learning about the solar system . A... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old September 26, 2019

why do parents think this is so bad?

this game is amazing! i dont know why people will think it is "violent" it is very educational, not many games are educational.
Teen, 13 years old Written byzaidsalmean August 10, 2019

Play the second one its better

I dont understand how this is "violent"
Planets collide all the time. Thats how the earth was made.
Also in this game there is no life that you can k... Continue reading

What's it about?

UNIVERSE SANDBOX is not a game with a story or characters. Rather, it's a 3-D simulation of our universe, accurately modeling it on many levels, from whole galaxies down to individual planets and even comets. Players are given sliders and other controls for any object they select and can change its size, mass, velocity, and orbit, among other things. This lets players quickly see how changing different properties of an object affects both its own other properties and the properties of other objects. Want to throw some asteroids at the moon? You can do that! Want to see two galaxies collide? Go for it! Ever wonder why Pluto was downgraded from a planet? Well, now you can check out how different it is from the other planets in our system.

Is it any good?

The game is very effective at what it does: allowing players to experiment in a massive open laboratory and discovering what would happen in response to any number of astronomy-related "what if" questions. The simulation is visually stunning, and the visualization tools are diverse and interesting. Universe Sandbox comes with a variety of optional scenarios and tests whether players want more direction in their sandbox play. Ultimately, however, it's just a tool, and some players may find it difficult to stay engaged for an extended period.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can explore some of the tool's preset scenarios/simulations.

  • Discuss the delicate balance of our solar system by introducing different objects into it and seeing what happens.

  • Extend learning by having kids make their own handmade models of the solar system or planets.

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Subjects: Science: astronomy, gravity, motion, physics
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, part-whole relationships
    Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Price: $9.99 individual; free for schools
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Giant Army
  • Release date: October 1, 2012
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Topics: Space and Aliens
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: December 02, 2018

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love space and astronomy

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