Shaun White Snowboarding gives the player, as the title suggests, a snowboard and sends him off to four ski run locations around the world (Europe, Alaska, Japan and a fictitious location called Park City) under the watchful eye of professional snowboarder Shaun White himself as well as other professionals, moderators, pilots and such. But before the player can go on the slope, he has to create his character by choosing not only from different body looks but also from different clothes and snowboards.
During the course of the game the player earns money by completing the challenges which can in return be invested in more stylized clothes and additional types of snowboards. Each of the boards has six stats like balance or speed and not all of them are the best possible option for every given situation. While in a race speed is an important factor, a board with a higher rating in rotation allows for better stunts.
The game puts the player in an open world with him free to roam around the slope as he pleases. Several lifts and even a helicopter bring him to different starting locations but if he wants, he can also walk and discover hidden areas by doing so. By doing tricks, with controls using mainly the analog sticks similar to Skate, the player earns respect points. And on the track are, besides many obstacles to perform tricks on, challenges like the Jibfest, in which only tricks on rails and boxes count or Freestyle in which every trick counts. Others include the Death Race, in which the player needs to get to the goal before everyone else but as the name suggests, everything is allowed including ramming opponents and throwing snowballs to get them off-balance. There are also some challenges like King of the Hill that can only be done with at least one other human player joining in.
The multiplayer mode is basically an extension of the single player experience. Everything that is available in single player, can also be done with other players online or over LAN. The other players are also just dropped into the open world with the freedom to just do what they want on the server.