Welcome to Parallax Media’s pocketbook guide to gaming, where both new and old gamers can come to learn more about the wide world of gaming! This week, we are going to talk about simulation games and dive deeper into what they are, why they are fun and provide a few recommendations. 

For many gamers, video games offer an escape from the real world. They can transport you to fantasy realms, challenge your puzzle-solving skills, and even test your abilities in a real-time battle arena. However, some of us are content just navigating the challenges or joys of real life, and play games that “simulate” real problems, routines or scenarios we may encounter on a daily basis. You may be surprised to find out a lot of games happen to fall under this category.

Simulation games are a great way to be introduced into the gaming world because they are fairly basic, but can be extremely engaging and creative at the same time. There are several micro-genres within the overarching simulation genre as well. These kinds of games can feature walking simulators, where players literally walk throughout a landscape and experience a story, such as the game Dear Esther. Then there are animal simulators, where players take on the role of an animal, like a goat, and imitate common behaviors of that animal, such as eating things goats like to eat. Sometimes simulators can lack depth or become boring fairly quickly, but there are a few reasons why they can also become so addicting and create quite beautiful stories and experiences.

First, although simulation games may take on common characteristics of daily life and behaviors, they also add an element of fun and intrigue. Gamers may even get the opportunity to play fate. Take the Sims, an extremely popular simulation game, for example. Players are able to manage the appearance of their character (sim), choose their sim’s career and hobbies, a design where they live and who they love, even how successful they are. This game is so addicting because players can live out their dreams of becoming famous, owning a luxurious house and/or car, or even commit crimes with no real-world consequences. Games such as The Sims allow us to eliminate some of the risks involved with reality and everyday life, which can be stress-relieving and fun. 

On the other hand, simulation games can also be more fictional and less realistic. In Animal Crossing, players live in an animal village and interact with neighborhood rhinos, raccoons and dogs — oh my! There are still realistic elements, such as paying off your house, fishing, attending community events, etc. However, there isn’t necessarily a time constraint and the game is meant to highlight the enjoyable aspects of daily life, such as making friends and appreciating the outdoors. An interesting element to this game is that in-game days actually follow the natural span of a 24-hour day, and match the time and season of the players’ actual location in the world. 

Simulation games can also take on a completely fantasy-like feel too. The game Coffee Talk, which was just recently released, takes place in an alternate Seattle universe and is a talking simulator. The player manages a coffee shop but is able to engage in conversations with orcs, vampires, werewolves, and succubus.

Simulation games also play a big role in training. Flight simulators may be fun and entertaining, but advanced simulations are also vital to training real pilots and servicemen. They allow people in this field to try out what-if scenarios without actually having to crash a plane. The same goes for those in other fields where dangerous equipment is involved. There are even simulation games created to teach budgeting skills, personal finance and language training. That being said, Farming Simulator may not be the most preferable (or realistic) source of agricultural training! The same goes for medical simulators!

This genre of games also allows gamers a chance to continue a hobby they already enjoy but in a more virtual space. Cooking Mama, FIFA, and even Wii Resort can be considered simulation games, although they fall under other categories and genres as well. Surprisingly, many games, if not all of them, found on the market today simulate some kind of real-world activity, and chances are you have already played a simulation game at some point in your life!

Well folks that’s all for simulation games in this segment of Parallax Media’s pocketbook guide to gaming. I hope we’ve inspired you to check out a simulation game and tell us what you encounter! What genre should we cover next? Let us know in the comments!

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An indie game enthusiast, Zoe can be found creating her own video games, writing or perhaps daydreaming about her favorite food; pasta. Follow her on Twitter @zoe_doman.

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