Simulation (video game genre)

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Simulating ant colonies in SimAnt.

Simulation is a video game genre which primarily attempts to accurately simulate a process. The earliest simulator software came about in 1950s and 60s as training programs designed for the military and businesses. As universities started getting computers, students and faculty began designing simulators like the lunar module landing program, Lunar (1969) and the Oregon Trail survival game, Oregon (1971). As home computing became popular in the late 1970s, simulation games became more popular, especially with flight simulators and battle reenactments. The genre has since expanded to the point where even very specific processes, as well as many fictional ones, now have simulation games devoted to them.


It's difficult to describe what is meant by a "simulation" game without arbitrarily excluding entire areas of simulation, but I think this must be done. For example, a chess game "simulates" the real board game and a football game "simulates" the real sport, however, this is usually not what people think of when someone mentions a "simulation" game. Generally, people think of simulating the decisions that take place during piloting a vehicle or managing resources. Of course, just because a game features these things doesn't mean it's a simulation game. For example, Wing Commander has you piloting a ship while also managing its resources, but it's ultimately a story-based space dog-fighting game, not a simulation. To me, a game is a simulation if its primary focus is on accurately depicting something for educational rather than entertainment reasons. This doesn't mean simulation games can't be entertaining, but it does mean people who are not interested in the game's field probably won't find them interesting.


The first simulation game that I personally owned and spent a lot of time on was SimAnt followed shortly thereafter by SimCity for the SNES. These games helped define the genre for me and taught me a lot about the complexities of ant colonies and city management. I have sense developed less of an appreciation of the genre because I find that the games usually lose their appeal after only a short while.


This is a list of simulation games that are important to me. For all games in this genre, see the simulation category.

Title Released Developer
A-Train 1990-12-14 Artdink
F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter 2.0 1991-??-?? MPS Labs
Glittermitten Grove 2016-12-26 Twinbeard
International Bridge Contractors 1981-04-?? Philip Case
PHM Pegasus 1987-02-?? Lucasfilm Games
Red Baron 1990-12-19 Dynamix
SimAnt 1991-??-?? Maxis
SimCity 1989-02-?? Maxis
SimCity (SNES) 1991-04-26 Nintendo
SimCity 2000 1994-??-?? Maxis
Theme Park 1994-??-?? Bullfrog


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