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.


Influences and origins

When The Sims was released in 2000, it was referred to as "almost the only game of its kind".[1] 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,[2] a Commodore 64 game from 1985. The games are similar, although The Sims is described as having a richer gameplay experience.[1] Secondly, Will Wright also acknowledged the influence of dollhouses on The Sims,[3] 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 GameCube and released throughout the world. As the game's popularity has surged, this series has also been described as a social simulation game.[4][5] Story of Seasons, a series that began in 1996 and is often compared to Animal Crossing,[6] has also been described as a social simulation game. Its social simulation elements are derived from dating sims,[7] a subgenre that dates back to the early 1980s, with games such as Tenshitachi no gogo[8] in 1985[9] and Girl's Garden in 1984.[10]

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.

Recent history

Several other social simulation games have emerged to capitalize on the success of The Sims.[11] This includes several sequels and expansion packs, as well as games like Singles: Flirt Up Your Life with heavy similarities.[12]


Farming sim

Main article: Farm life sim

A farming sim is a specific type of social sim in which the player tends to a farm at the same time they interact with other townspeople. A direct connection can be drawn from early games in the genre such as Harvest Moon (1996) to the more recent Stardew Valley (2016). Other games, such as the Rune Factory series and Harvestella (2022) put a fantasy spin on the genre,[13] while there are also sci-fi examples such as Lightyear Frontier.[14] The 2.0 update of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020) added the ability to create a farm and grow produce.[15]


See also


  1. ^ a b Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2003). Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design. New Riders Publishing. pp. 477–487. ISBN 1-59273-001-9. Archived from the original on 2020-05-02. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  2. ^ Wright, Will. "A chat about the "The Sims" and "SimCity"". CNN. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  3. ^ Keighley, Geoff. "Gamespot - Simply Divine: The Story of Maxis Software". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  4. ^ Felix, Chef. "Animal Crossing Wild World Review". Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  5. ^ "Anti-Cheating Proposed Guidelines". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  6. ^ Astro Ranch: iPhone Gets Its Harvest Moon,
  7. ^ Rune Factory 2: A Fantasy Harvest Moon Review Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine, GameSpot
  8. ^ a b Tenshitachi no Gogo at MobyGames
  9. ^ a b Tenshi-Tachi no Gogo Archived 2012-07-31 at, GameSpot
  10. ^ AtariAge at CGE2010, Atari Age
  11. ^ "Life Simulation Games Like The Sims". Games Finder. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
  12. ^ Butts, Steve. "Review: Singles - Flirt up your life". Archived from the original on June 9, 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  13. ^ "Harvestella is Square Enix's new fantasy farming sim/RPG on Switch". VentureBeat. 2022-06-28. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  14. ^ "Mech-Themed Farming Sim, Lightyear Frontier, Revealed At Xbox Games Showcase". GameSpot. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  15. ^ Parkin, Jeffrey (2021-11-05). "Animal Crossing: New Horizons farming guide". Polygon. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  16. ^ "New Shenmue 2 information". SPOnG.
  17. ^ "The page you were looking for might have moved - Bordersdown (NTSC-uk)".