However, I have been in campaigns where the DM assigned world building to the players. You, you’re playing an elf? Okay, you get decide what elves are like in our world. It shares the work and lets players get more invested in the world.
Oh, in the game did end up having an over arcing story. The DM just tailored it to the players’ interests after he learned what they were.
However, what really came to my mind was the games where the whole point is for everyone to work together to create the world. Games are where everyone gets to take part in the world building.
My first experience doing that was... man, 1997. If there were any world building games out at the time, we didn’t know it. We just each took a piece and developed it. We ended up with a world of islands floating in the volcano with renaissance duelers and steampunk monks who didn’t wear goggles. We never ended until doing anything with it but it was pretty.
However, there are now a number of options for collaborative world building. The first one I heard of was Universalis, which I still haven’t really looked at. Downfall is another one I want to look into. I have actually played the Quiet Year, which explores building a community but also has a definitely helping of collaborative world building.
The world building game that I have, by far, had the most experience with is Microscope. If someone asked me to recommend a world building game, which has never happened and probably never will, I’d recommend Microscope. In fact, that the first Microscope game I was ever in had the goal of creating a campaign world for D&D and the player who was the DM used it for more than one campaign.
World building hasn’t been on my mind lately. However, after my mind was poked, I not only remembered that I enjoy it, there are systems that really explore it.