Game or Simulation

The Sims might be one of the most well known game franchise in the world. Most of us have spent some of our working hours just to choose the right furnitures, dress, or hairstyle for those little fictional people with alien language. The title itself gave us a clear description of the whole purpose of the gameplay, it’s a SIMulation game.

What is the difference between a simulation and a game? According to a paper by Louise Sauvé in The Journal of Educational Technology & Society, we can distinguish simulation and game as two distinctive concepts, mainly from their attributes. Attributes of a game are : player or players, conflict, rules, predetermined goal of the game, and its artificial nature. While a simulation basically have different features, which are : a model of reality defined as a system; a dynamic model; a simplified model; and a model that has fidelity, accuracy and validity.

By these definitions, game and simulation have different purposes, a game have no obligation to take a real life model/system, which is mandatory in simulation. A simulation based on a real life model may have no conflict or predetermined goal (endless loop). So, in the end, a simulation game is actually a middle ground between the two distinctive concepts. A way to make sure a simulation more engaging by putting conflicts and goals, while learning and grabbing the system built from real life model will turn it into a simulation game. A game inspired by a real life model/system, adapting it into its gameplay will also leave us with the same thing.

2 Replies to “Game or Simulation”

  1. My view is much simpler. A game and a simulation differ because a simulation has a training objective.

    I submit I can transform nearly any game into a simulation by carefully considering what it is you want to train kn and have people learn.

    This excludes high fidelity physics based simulations which have a different purpose, but these too can be assigned a training objective given the right circumstances.

    1. Thanks for your insight Mike 🙂
      The idea of simulation as a training media/tool has been around for century, I believe. I think it’s true that “training objective purpose” can be a feature of simulation. It is perhaps one main reason why we (mankind) create simulation in the first place, to get a better understanding of real life events/models into simpler system so we can have a better point of view to analyze and learn about it.
      However, the difference between game and simulation I tried to bring up in the article was simply about the nature of the mechanism/system itself despite the purpose of their creation. A simulation doesn’t have to include goals (let’s call it end game) within its system, it can be an endless loop or repetitive patterns, something that is supposedly a mandatory feature in a game. A game too can be a training tool, but it cease to be a game when it include no objective/ end game.

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