Simulation video games are a diverse super-category of video games, generally designed to closely simulate real world activities.[1] A simulation game attempts to copy various activities from real life in the form of a game for various purposes such as training, analysis, prediction, or entertainment. Usually there are no strictly defined goals in the game, and the player is allowed to control a character or environment freely.[2] Well-known examples are war games, business games, and role play simulation. From three basic types of strategic, planning, and learning exercises: games, simulations, and case studies, a number of hybrids may be considered, including simulation games that are used as case studies.[3] Comparisons of the merits of simulation games versus other teaching techniques have been carried out by many researchers and a number of comprehensive reviews have been published.[4]


Construction and management simulation

Main article: Construction and management simulation

Construction and management simulation (CMS)[5] is a type of simulation game in which players build, expand or manage fictional communities or projects with limited resources.[6] Strategy games sometimes incorporate CMS aspects into their game economy, as players must manage resources while expanding their projects. Pure CMS games differ from strategy games in that "the player's goal is not to defeat an enemy, but to build something within the context of an ongoing process."[5] Games in this category are sometimes also called "management games".[7][8][9]

Life simulation

Main article: Life simulation game

Life simulation games (or artificial life games)[10] are a subgenre of simulation video games in which the player lives or controls one or more artificial lifeforms. A life simulation game can revolve around "individuals and relationships, or it could be a simulation of an ecosystem".[10] Social simulation games are one of its subgenres.


Main article: Sports game

Some video games simulate the playing of sports. Most sports have been recreated by video games, including team sports, athletics and extreme sports. Some games emphasize playing the sport (such as the Madden NFL series), whilst others emphasize strategy and organization (such as Football Manager). Some, such as Arch Rivals, satirize the sport for comic effect. This genre has been popular throughout the history of video games, and is competitive, just like real-world sports. A number of game series feature the names and characteristics of real teams and players, and are updated continuously to reflect real-world changes.

Other types

FlightGear, a flight simulator video game
Gravity simulator game. The player can launch the Sun and planets, turn on the trail, set the initial speed.

Simulation games in education

See also: Video games and education, Games and learning, and Gamification of learning

Because Simulation games make learning a matter of direct experience, they may relieve the tedium associated with more conventional modes of instruction, as they demand increased participation rather than merely reading about or discussing concepts and ideas (like discrimination, culture, stratification, and norms). Students will experience them by actually ''living" the experiences. Therefore, the use of simulation games may increase students' motivation and interest in learning.[15][needs update]

Simulation games can provide increased insights into how the world is seen, like the moral and intellectual idiosyncrasies of others. They may also increase empathy for others and help develop awareness of personal and interpersonal values by allowing players to see moral and ethical implications of the choices they make. As such, they can be used to change and improve students attitudes toward self, environment, and classroom learning.[15][needs update]

Many games are designed to change and develop specific skills of decision making, problem solving and critical thinking (such as those involved in survey sampling, perception and communication).[15][needs update]


The Sumerian Game (1964), a text-based early mainframe game designed by Mabel Addis, based on the ancient Sumerian city-state of Lagash, was the first economic simulation game.[16] In 1968, Cornell University funded several simulation games which were developed by Prof. Robert Chase and his students. These included Cornell Hotel Administration Simulation Exercise and Cornell Restaurant Administration Simulation Exercise. Notably the restaurant game featured competitive play, with teams managing competing restaurants. The games drew attention from the relevant industries of the time and were made playable at national conventions for the American Hotel & Motel Association and the Club Managers Association of America in 1969.[17]

Another early economic sim by Danielle Bunten Berry, M.U.L.E., released in 1983.[18]

In the 1980s, it became a trend for arcade video games to use hydraulic motion simulator arcade cabinets.[19][20] The trend was sparked by Sega's "taikan" games, with "taikan" meaning "body sensation" in Japanese.[20] Sega's first game to use a motion simulator cabinet was Space Tactics (1981), a space combat simulator that had a cockpit cabinet where the screen moved in sync with the on-screen action.[19] The "taikan" trend later began when Yu Suzuki's team at Sega (later known as Sega AM2) developed Hang-On (1985), a racing video game where the player sits on and moves a motorbike replica to control the in-game actions.[21] Suzuki's team at Sega followed it with hydraulic motion simulator cockpit cabinets for rail shooters such as Space Harrier (1985), racing games such as Out Run (1986), and combat flight simulators such as After Burner (1987) and G-LOC: Air Battle (1990). One of the most sophisticated motion simulator cabinets in arcades was Sega's R360 (1990), which simulated the full 360-degree rotation of an aircraft.[19][22] Sega have since continued to manufacture motion simulator cabinets for arcade games through to the 2010s.[19]

In the mid-1980s, Codemasters and the Oliver Twins released a number of games with "Simulator" in the title, including BMX Simulator (1986), Grand Prix Simulator (1986), and Pro Boxing Simulator (1988). Richard and David Darling of Codemasters were inspired by Concertmaster's best-selling games, which were based on real sports such as football and BMX racing, which had a pre-existing popularity. In a parody of the established "simulator" cliche, Your Sinclair released a game titled Advanced Lawnmower Simulator in 1988.[23]

The introduction of the city-building simulation subgenre is closely associated with the 1989 release of SimCity by developer Will Wright. However, earlier city-building titles had been published, including the 1984 Colecovision title Fortune Builder.[24] Later games published by Wright's company Maxis, including SimLife and SimEarth, simulated worlds at a broader scale, including recreations of genetics and global ecosystems.

A study of adolescents who played SimCity 2000 found that those players had a greater appreciation and expectation of their government officials after playing.[25]

See also


  1. ^ "The Next Generation 1996 Lexicon A to Z: Simulation (Sim)". Next Generation. No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 41.
  2. ^ "Simulations: A Handbook for Teachers and Trainers", by Ken Jones, 1995, ISBN 0-7494-1666-1, p. 21
  3. ^ Danny Saunders, Jacqui Severn, "Simulation and Games for Strategy and Policy Planning", p. 20
  4. ^ "Games and Simulations to Enhance Quality Learning", 1996, ISBN 0-7494-1866-4, p. 50
  5. ^ a b Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2003). Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design. New Riders Publishing. pp. 417–441. ISBN 978-1-59273-001-8. Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  6. ^ Wolf, Mark J. P. (2002). The Medium of the Video Game. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-79150-3.
  7. ^ "Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom for PC". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  8. ^ Beers, Craig (2004-03-18). "School Tycoon for PC Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  9. ^ Butts, Stephen; Ward, Trent C. (2000-10-02). "IGN: Zeus: Master of Olympus Preview". IGN. Archived from the original on October 3, 2002. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  10. ^ a b Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall.
  11. ^ a b Lahti, Evan (January 24, 2021). "These 9 genres need more games, please". PC Gamer. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  12. ^ "Invism Software Applications". Invism. 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  13. ^ Lane, Rick (July 7, 2016). "History of the best immersive sims". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on May 22, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  14. ^ Biery, Thomas (August 18, 2016). "What makes an Immersive Sim, and why are they staging a comeback?". Polygon. Archived from the original on March 3, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c Dorn, Dean S. (1989). "Simulation Games: One More Tool on the Pedagogical Shelf". Teaching Sociology. 17 (1): 1–18. doi:10.2307/1317920. ISSN 0092-055X. JSTOR 1317920.
  16. ^ Rollinger, Christian (9 January 2020). Classical Antiquity in Video Games: Playing with the Ancient World. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-350-06664-9.
  17. ^ Chase, Robert (Feb 1970). "CRASE The Restaurant Game". Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly. 10 (4): 87–91. doi:10.1177/001088047001000418.
  18. ^ Sharkey, Scott (January 22, 2004 – January 12, 2005). "The Essential 50 Archives". Archived from the original on 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  19. ^ a b c d "Sega's Wonderful Simulation Games Over The Years". Arcade Heroes. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  20. ^ a b Horowitz, Ken (6 July 2018). The Sega Arcade Revolution: A History in 62 Games. McFarland & Company. pp. 96–9. ISBN 978-1-4766-3196-7.
  21. ^ "The Disappearance of Yu Suzuki: Part 1". 2010. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  22. ^ Lendino, Jamie (27 September 2020). Attract Mode: The Rise and Fall of Coin-Op Arcade Games. Steel Gear Press. p. 331.
  23. ^ White, Jon (2017). "Coding Back the Years". Classic Gaming Volume 3. Future. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-78389-385-0. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  24. ^ "Colecovision Zone Fortune Builder". Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  25. ^ Zeynep, Tanes; Zeynep Cemalcilar (October 2010). "Learning from SimCity: An empirical study of Turkish adolescents". Journal of Adolescence. 33 (5): 731–739. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.10.007. PMID 19931157.

Further reading