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Simulation

Authored by: Seth Giddings

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510

10.4324/9780203114261.ch32

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Abstract

Defining simulation games is a challenge. While most seasoned video game players will have their own idea of what this category of games looks like—and perhaps some favorite examples—these games share no easily identifiable conventions. Classic simulation game series including SimCity (Maxis, 1989) and Civilization (Microprose, 1991) are easily identified by their bird’s-eye—or “god’s eye”—perspective, with the player gazing down on simulated territories and their denizens. But this perspective, and its associated interface devices and gameplay, overlaps and blurs with military strategy games such as the Command & Conquer (Electronic Arts, 1995) and Age of Empires (Microsoft Studios, 1997) series. The category often includes vehicle simulators from A-Train (Maxis, 1985), very similar to SimCity, to Flight Simulator (Microsoft Studios, 1982), quite different in viewpoint and gameplay. If it includes biosphere or evolution simulators such as SimEarth (Maxis, 1990) or Creatures (Mindscape, 1996), then why not their ancestor John Conway’s Game of Life (1970)? And, as Game of Life began its own life on sheets of graph paper in a university Math department, could non-digital games be included—Monopoly (Parker Brothers, 1934), perhaps—or other scientific simulations not intended for entertainment? For many games contain simulations of physics (gravity, friction, collision) but are not thought of as “simulation games.”

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