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A Tribute to Simulation Games

A look at simulation games and how far they have come

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Hence the name, simulation games (computer and video) are games that simulate real life. Simulation games fall into three categories: strategic, planning and learning. Although play style varies from game to game, most simulation games require users to complete tasks, and reach goals.

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The History of Simulation Games

Remember the original Sim City from 1989? This title is widely considered as the first ever simulation game. It can be argued that driving games were the first simulators. Although it’s true that these types of games simulate an experience, Sim City was the very first game that asked players to assume a God-like role and create their own experience.

Sim City, and its subsequent versions, allow players to create a functioning city. This includes urban planning, which requires players to assume the role of tax collector, electricity provider, developer, and a number of other jobs. Sim City laid the foundation for future simulation games, including the ultra-popular The Sims series.

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Simulation Games That are Just for Fun

Now more than ever, simulation games are fun time wasters. The invention of device apps have resulted in millions of simulation games that cover everything from raising a pet to babysitting a child. Cooking Mama, The Sims and Animal Crossing are all perfect examples of brilliantly made, ultra-addicting and super-fun simulation games.

These games are popular because they offer the user a chance to take control of an environment. People love playing creator, such as one does in the best-selling The Sims series. The Sims are people who are controlled by the player. They’re told when to eat, when to fall in love, when to sleep, and even when to potty. How you play is dependent on what aspect of the game best captures your interests. For example, some users ignore people creation altogether and simply focus on house building and landscaping.

Other simulation games offer less freedom during gameplay. For example, Cooking Mama has a straightforward gameplay style. You simply create the suggested dishes, and if you fail, you don’t continue. wiseGeek explains the different simulation gameplay styles like this:

“…some games aren’t played to win, but are instead played because you can develop multiple right solutions or different permutation of the game depending on your choices. Other simulation games are structured on a more win/lose basis or require completing certain tasks before being able to advance to another level.”

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Learning Through Simulation

Simulation games have long been used as training tools. Astronauts used mission simulators to prepare themselves for journeys into space. Driver’s education instructors have long used driving simulators to teach their students how to behave behind the wheel. In general, learning simulators are amazingly effective at teaching people how to behave in real life situations and scenarios.

One of the most famous simulators is Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. The game puts players in a realistic cockpit, and asks them to successfully take off, fly and land different airplanes. Even more sophisticated is the Elite PC flight simulator for Windows computers. This premium game is highly rated because it’s great practice for beginning flyers. It’s a great tool for learning, and even helps students gain their Instrument flight rules certification.

“A real flight simulator can be a powerful training tool for both student pilots and professional aviators,” writes PilotMall.com. “With a flight simulator, a pilot can hone his or her skills in a safe environment.”

The Future of Simulation Gaming

There’s no telling how the simulation market will improve, but one can assume that 3D gaming will play a role in simulation games, as will improved graphics and abilities. It’s likely users will be able to control more than ever in the coming years.

This concludes a few of my thoughts on simulation games. Have any of you played any of the games I mentioned above? Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on the genre as a whole in the comments section below.

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