Understanding Video Games text-book
Simulation

Date posted: May 14, 2006
Updated: May 16, 2006

Running parallel with the more profitable genres simulation games have often played the role of ’serious big brother’. Simulation games attempt to convey a completely concrete experience and place realism as the most important goal. Excitement may not be frowned upon but above all these games must look like the real thing. For the player, however, the challenge is first of all to master complex principles that have no direct relation to external reality (for example pressing CTRL + G to lower the landing gear.

While Spacewar followers attacked fire buttons with intense fervor a more subtle alternative emerged with the game Lunar Lander. In the spirit of the time the player would have to land a spaceship on the surface of the moon. The player’s task was to choose amounts of fuel consumption for each turn. The computer would then print information about the position of the ship.

In the late eighties primitive graphics started to illustrate the long flights. And indeed, the flight simulators were still the most popular. These games could (and can) be divided into two types, respectively aiming for complex realism and entertainment. The last type often have an element of combat and simulate, for instance, famous air battles or the American air campaign in Vietnam.
Later came simulations of u-boats, car and motorcycle races.

Flight simulators continue to appeal to players with great patience and many lovers of the genre consider them an especially ‘distinguished’ sub-genre. There are games without concrete goals but where satisfaction lies in solving an advanced coordination task.

Whereas some players prefer intense, solitary study late at night, others embrace newfound possibilities in networked gaming to play out large-scale multiplayer scenarios of various types.

Some games, like Microsoft Flight Simulator, take advantage of the possibilities of the Internet by letting devoted fans design their own ’scenarios’ that can be distributed through personal websites and more organized depots.

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