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What are Computer Simulation Games?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Simulation means a representation. Computer simulation games, or “sim games,” may represent real life, potential situations that could happen in real life, or imaginary situations. They are used for the purposes of decision making, entertainment, exploration, or training. Players in the game can go through whatever experiences the games offer and their choices bring up without the repercussions and responsibilities of making those choices and having those experiences in real life, different approaches can be tried in order to model their results, and systems can be studied for a variety of purposes. Some of the main categories of computer simulation games include business, city building, fantasy, flight, life, sports, and military/strategy.

City-building computer simulation games go back to the early nineties and give players the opportunity to plan, build, and administer a city, whether in Egypt, Rome, Medieval Europe, present-day New York, or in space. Scenarios may require road and structure building, zoning decisions, providing city services and a transportation system, building trade partnerships, and defending citizens. Some city simulation games allow you to import your own buildings, connect multiple cities, or focus on culture and a city’s “feel.”

Business simulations enjoy wide popularity as instructional and decision-making tools. There are simulation games to teach investment, services-oriented supply chain management, financial management, Business war games come in three flavors with different philosophies: Business Is War war games (BIW), which are adapted from military war games and work with war terms, such as enemies and victory; Business is a Game war games (BIG), based on game theory; and Business is Business war games (BIB), which is based on competitor analysis. They give players the ability to use scenarios to model their competitors’ responses to their plans and predict choices.

In the language of computer simulation games, not all management games are for business purposes. For example, as well as the odd sports instructional game, such as one to teach you sailing and a large number in which a sport is played, there are a number of sports management games that are for entertainment, rather than learning managerial skills. Many of these go by the moniker “fantasy fill-in-the-sport,” like fantasy football. Fantasy congress, on the other hand, is intended for instruction as well as entertainment.

Some computer simulation games have moved from software versions to online versions and now are being ported to cellphones. For example, Informatist, a game developed to teach teens and adults about business, has made the leap from online to iPhone to broaden its reach.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for EasyTechJunkie, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By gravois — On Jan 31, 2012

Does anyone know where I can play online simulation games? I don't have the money to spend on computer software but if there was a place I could play for free online that would really help me out. Thanks!

By nextcorrea — On Jan 30, 2012

There is a whole series of simulation games called tycoon that lets you take control of various industries and try to be the biggest and best. These range from running a zoo to building a theme park to managing a trans continental railroad. There are tons of games in the series and whatever your secret dream job is there is probably a game to simulate it.

The games are not completely faithful to real life. In the interests of entertainment they render the world in a cartoony style and break most of the laws of physics and capitalism. But like I say this makes it more fun.

By chivebasil — On Jan 30, 2012

I used to love to play flight simulators on the computer. When I was a teenager I seriously thought that I wanted to be a pilot and those simulation games were the closest I could get to actually being up in the sky.

They were very detailed and accurate too. I have had real pilots tell me that the instrumental panels they use are almost identical to the real thin. All of the mechanics of flight is imitated exactly as well. As far as simulations go these are pretty good but of course they are nothing compared to actually flying a plane at 30,000 feet.

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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