ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Distinguishing games and simulation games from simulators

By Viknashvaran Narayanasamy, Kok Wai Wong, Chun Che Fung, Shri Rai
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 4, No. 2]

DOI: 10.1145/1129006.1129021

The advanced computational capabilities in modern personal computers have made it possible for consumers to experience simulations with a high degree of verisimilitude through simulation games (a.k.a. Sims). In recent years, the cross-boundary technology exchange between game and simulation technology, along with other factors, has contributed to the confusion as to what makes a simulation game and what makes a simulator. This article provides a user's and designer's perspective on a definitive comparison of the similarities and differences between games in general, simulation games, and simulators. It also introduces a method that can be easily used to distinguish games and simulation games from simulators by using observable design characteristics. On the other hand, the convergence of functionality and technology in simulation games and simulators has created new applications of simulation. One such application is in serious games. Serious games and simulation games are confusingly similar in many ways. However, they greatly differ in functionality. This article also provides a method to distinguish serious games from simulation games, to clarify the strict categorization between these two applications of simulation.

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