Games and Simulations

I’ve been reading some video game reviews recently, just to get the mind settled a little bit, and I’ve come to this conclusion:

You have, basically, two types of video game entertainment today: games and simulations.

Nintendo has split the industry and customer base. Nintendo makes games, not simulations.

5 replies on “Games and Simulations”

But why can’t a simulation be a game? How is Sim City not a game? Would you classify MW3 as a simulation or a game?

You failed to define “game” in your post. If I may be so bold, allow me to do it now. “Noun: A form of play or sport, esp. a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.” (Google)

Now simulation is defined as “the act of imitating the behavior of some situation or some process by means of something suitably analogous (especially for the purpose of study or personnel training)” (

Now by these two definitions, almost any simulation could actually be classified as a “game” in so much that it is played (or run) based off of rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.

Unless you wan to classify a game as “A thing that is frivolous or amusing” in which case I could still make a solid argument that the simulations can be amusing and in some cases rather frivolous as well.

I will further state, that almost any game could be considered a simulation when you consider that since the things that are happening are not actually real they represent a realistic possible outcome if the laws of physics and the universe could be conformed to a specific set of characteristics.

In fact I will even go so far as to upload a second and possibly more accurate diagram.

As for your comment about Nintendo making games. I would agree, but also point out that they also make great simulations for bowling, boxing, golfing, and what the universe would be like if you didn’t need to breathe oxygen and could instantaneously travel to a series of small ‘fun’ planets in order to collect shiny five-pointed objects.

As usual, you take my simple statement and turn it on its head, thus creating a tangent. I like it, your post is correct, and I move to clarify.

For me, the difference has to do with motivation. I can’t speak specifically about the motivation of the respective games or companies, but this is how I feel about what has split apart the video game industry. Deep breath.

Do we want it to be fun? Do we want it to be “realistic”? Now, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but it SEEMS that companies are thinking first of how “brown/grey/dark/dreary/dirty/realistic/etc” they can make something and then tag on any gameplay mechanic the like. The Call of Duty and Battlefield games would be a good example. I would label those as simulations, granted really good killing simulations.

I’m a verifiable Zelda fanboy and have been for a while. Reading people bagging on Zelda because it doesn’t look like Gears of War or Modern Warfare grinds my gears. They miss the forest for the trees and that makes me sad.

Am I completely off my rocket? Of course I am, that’s nothing new. My quote was simplistic on purpose to draw attention, and your last graph is probably the most correct if you are going to go by the strict denotative definitions of each.

However, I don’t think a person can deny that the goals behind a game like Modern Warfare are entirely different than something like a traditional Zelda game. Technology has enabled us to do amazing things, and sometimes we are choosing to just model what is already here instead of imagining what might be.

When I think of “simulators” I think of two things, one is racing games and the second is all the “rail road simulators” and DLC content that Steam has for them.

Gamers want realistic graphics. They don’t want realistic gameplay. When I play Midnight Club LA, I want to see every detail in the terrain, I want the world to be as realistic as possible, but I don’t want physics.

I want to ram my car into another car, headlong, at 200mph, then drive off in search of another race. I want to see every detail of that crash, every scratch on the car, but I don’t want the car to be undriveable after a 30mph accident with a concrete wall. I want to race around corners with my handbrake and not have to worry about hitting the curb or crashing headlong into trees or light posts.

When I think of the new FPS’ I look at the beautiful graphics and amazing levels. The large scale, the grandiose textures, but I don’t want to limp around for the entire game because I got shot in the foot during the first level. Neither do I want to spend a month of waiting in the hospital because that rocket tore apart my arm. I want to jump through the explosion with guns blazing.

The games that spend all their resources on graphics don’t have compelling story lines. Some don’t have good game mechanics. The games that put effort into game mechanics and story know that they don’t NEED to have amazing graphics to succeed.

Occasionally you have someone come along and they manage to do well on all accounts. But that is rare. More often you have teams failing in all three categories.

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