quarta-feira, 24 de abril de 2013

Games and simulations

Few weeks ago I participated of a discussion about important features in game design process. Among a lot of important topics, there is one that deserves special attention and asks for a highlight -- I'm talking about the idea of "simulation" in games.

It’s very common to read in some articles a few notions about this subject, but I think it's important to bring one conceptual definition to this discussion. First of all, we are talking about digital games and, in second place, all games are simulations by nature.

Becker and Parker, in their excellent book The guide to computer simulation and games say (2012, p.64) that in the computer simulation community all games are simulations, but not vice versa. If one looks at the algorithms of a fully digital game (i.e., one that is not a digital version of a traditional game) – those algorithms that actually make it behave the way it does – one will find that they are in fact simulations. While it is certainly true that most games have some aspects that classical simulations normally lack, that does not make them something other than simulations.

The quote above helps us to imagine this idea clearly. The programming code per se is a simulation tool that gives life to the game and to its interface, mechanics and dynamics.

The authors also state that (p.65), at least until recently, simulations did not normally involve the use of joy-sticks or other game-like control devices. Nowadays, we are seeing more and more simulation engines being built to take advantage of those very same devices.

In other words, the simulation field is getting wider and their practices have acquired new meanings every time. And it's even hard to say how much the games and features related to the idea of simulation affect areas beyond entertainment.

I think it’s necessary to understand better these different features to use games in a broader way. To initiate a deeper discussion I recommend the book listed in the reference of this post below.

Have a nice reading.


BECKER, Katrin; PARKER, J.R. The guide to computer simulations and games. John Wiley & Sons: Indianapolis, 2012.

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