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Social simulation games are a subgenre of life simulation game that explore social interactions between multiple artificial lives. Some examples include The Sims and Animal Crossing series.
When The Sims was released in 2000, it was referred to as "almost the only game of its kind". But there are several important precursors to The Sims and the social simulation genre. Firstly, the game's creator Will Wright acknowledged the influence of Little Computer People, a Commodore 64 game from 1985. The games are similar, although The Sims is described as having a richer gameplay experience. Secondly, Will Wright also acknowledged the influence of dollhouses on The Sims, which have generally also informed the gameplay of this genre.
Animal Crossing was released in 2001 for the Nintendo 64 in Japan. While released towards the end of the life cycle of the Nintendo 64, it developed a following that led to it being ported to the Nintendo Gamecube and released throughout the world. As the game's popularity has surged, this series has also been described as a social simulation game. Story of Seasons, a series that began in 1996 and is often compared to Animal Crossing, has also been described as a social simulation game. Its social simulation elements are derived from dating sims, a subgenre that dates back to the early 1980s, with games such as Tenshitachi no gogo in 1985 and Girl's Garden in 1984.
Since the initial success of these games in the early 2000s, video game journalists have begun to refer to a group of similar games as belonging to the social simulation game genre.
Several other social simulation games have emerged to capitalize on the success of The Sims. This includes several sequels and expansion packs, as well as games like Singles: Flirt Up Your Life with heavy similarities.