From 1964’s The Sumerian Game to 1988’s Advanced Lawnmower Simulator to modern franchises like Flight Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator, the simulation genre is most certainly here to stay.
Often pushed aside as one of gaming’s most oddball genres, the draw of simulation games can be incredibly illusive for many gamers. You may have heard stories of enthusiasts creating room-scale cockpits to host 8-hour “play sessions” where they fly from London to New York or read up on truck-driving odysseys through Siberian winters. But chances are if you’ve ever picked up a simulation game without being incredibly invested in the activity, you may well have been left wondering what all the fuss is about.
Let’s take a look at five reasons why the simulation genre has endured so well over the years.
Living a Dream…
I feel we all have a long-lost dream of becoming the best lawnmower operator the world has ever seen—Advanced Lawnmower Simulator gives you the opportunity to taste the nectar of realizing such a dream…
Okay, maybe nobody is that interested in lawnmowing, but simulation games do provide the opportunity for players to experience what it would be like to do real-world activities that they are not otherwise able to do.
From Flight Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator to The Sims and The Sumerian Game, simulations give you access to the lives of other working professionals. I mean, when else are you going to be able to realistically drive a passenger plane, or become a famous actress… But simulations give you the opportunity to taste those other lives.
…That’s Surprisingly Close to Reality
Not only do simulations let you experience those other realities, but simulation games often make it their unique selling point to be as close to that reality as possible.
Take the legendary Flight Simulator for example, which allows you to flick, push and pull all the buttons and levers in the cockpit of a plane while traversing the real globe in real-time.
Given, that such experiences may become a time sink, that closeness to reality is exactly what some players are looking for.
Of course, no simulator is going to be exactly the same as its real-world counterpart, but some get incredibly close… Albeit without the inherent risks of real-world activities!
Reveling in Relaxation
In their dedication to long play sessions, relatively simple objectives, and intuitive gameplay, simulation games are almost unrivaled in the relaxing downtime they offer. Driving down a Siberian motorway or setting up a colony on an alien planet may sound stressful, but, ultimately, they rely on an amalgam of very simple actions and very little problem-solving.
Given, that this “simplicity” may be a turn-off for many gamers looking for nitro-fuelled action, the slower pace certainly injects gaming with an intriguing new calm. A calm which, in fact, makes those small moments of tension feel all the more intense!
An Opportunity for Mayhem
Simulating reality isn’t always about playing by the rules. With real-world consequences nowhere to be seen, simulation games allow players to cause havoc that would be impossible (and often incredibly immoral) in the real world.
Want to try and loop-the-loop a passenger jet? No problem! Want to attempt to drive a 30-tonne truck through a forest? Give it a shot! Want to see what happens if your kids don’t do their homework? Easy.
While you can take this mayhem as dark as you’d like, there’s no question that simulation games often act as sandboxes for player imaginations, allowing you to experiment to your heart’s content without needing to pay the real-world price.
The Enthusiastic Community
Community is rarely the reason people are drawn to a genre of media, but it can easily be the reason they stay there. Given its niche, simulation games often have incredibly strong, dedicated communities which produce content online, help newbies, and provide all meme-worthy chatter that comes with gaming communities.
And as you become more invested, the more central this community comes. Be it helping each other build unique physical play spaces or prompting whacky challenges. Not to mention that many simulator games have gone on to spawn e-sports competitions which simultaneously promote more serious play and a larger community.
Whether you’re already a dedicated fan of simulation games, or you’ve never picked one up in your life, what’s clear is they are here to stay. With a long legacy spanning the entire history of gaming, we can be sure that there are going to be plenty more gems of the simulation genre to be released in the coming years.