Computer games can offer not only fictional worlds with action gameplay, but also quite ordinary things. Always dreamed of trying some inaccessible occupation or profession? Get behind the wheel of an airplane? To be in the shoes of a city architect? Don’t miss the simulators. This genre occupies a special niche in game development and, despite the dominance of AAA projects, offers a very impressive choice.
History of the genre
Based on the name, it is not difficult to guess that the main goal of such games is to simulate a certain type of activity. The simulator reproduces many aspects or subtleties of any activity. The game offers maximum immersion – and it hooks the player with just that: the closest sensations, as in life.
The history of the genre is interconnected with the development of the entire gaming industry. The appearance of the first simulator can be dated to 1958. William Higinboth of Brookhaven National Laboratory has developed a tennis simulator called Tennis for Two. Two players with the help of special controllers controlled rackets, beating the ball towards the opponent. All this was drawn on the oscilloscope screen. Despite the primitiveness, the game perfectly simulated the behavior of the ball.
In 1962 came the famous space simulator Spacewar! – two players controlled their own shuttles that revolved around a massive star. The goal was not to fall on the star and shoot down the enemy with a torpedo. spacewar! simulated the laws of Newtonian physics. Opponents had to take into account the flight path, taking into account the gravity of the star. The game became the inspiration for many arcade arcade games and influenced other projects in the space setting.
From 1970 to 1990, the number of simulators only grew. In 1972, under the auspices of Atari, the famous table tennis simulator Pong was released. The game quickly migrated from slot machines to many other platforms. In 1974, Atari released the first game car simulator, Gran Trak 10, with a full steering wheel and a twisty track. More specific projects began to appear. In 1981, the world saw the first President Elect political life simulator for DOS, and already in 1989 the famous SimSity appeared.
The developers actively tried their hand at the simulation genre. The development of technology allowed making games more realistic and thoughtful, with ever deeper gameplay. It became possible to transfer almost any type of activity to the screens – from aircraft control to fishing. Today, over 3,000 games can be found under the “Simulation” category on Steam alone.
This category can include all games that simulate the control of machinery. The most popular projects, perhaps, relate to car simulators . The brightest representatives of the genre are Race Driver: GRID, NFS Shift, DiRT Rally and certain parts of Gran Turismo.
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The degree of realism in each game is different. As a rule, car simulators offer a unique sound and control for each car, a damage system, the effect of weather and aerodynamics on the behavior of the car. When connecting the steering wheel with pedals, you can get the maximum experience, almost like driving a real car.
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This subcategory also includes more relaxed games, for example, bus driver simulators, truck driver ( Euro Truck Simulator ), excavator driver and so on. Always wanted to ride on some kind of transport? Most likely, this can be done in some simulator.
A separate subgenre is railway simulators – Railway Empire , Train Sim World , Microsoft Train Simulator and so on. In such games, the emphasis is on the most realistic transfer of control of the locomotive. Gamers need to keep an eye on the instruments, plan braking in time and not miss stops. Many games are also economic strategies at the same time.
Another subcategory is flight simulators . The most realistic ones include Microsoft Flight Simulator, Take on Helicopters and Ka-50 Black Shark. In these games, not only the behavior of the equipment is transmitted, but also the cockpit is worked out in the smallest detail. Most toggle switches can be turned on and off, and the devices show real values. Everything is like in life.
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If you just want to enjoy the freedom of flight, then there are more arcade simulators. For example, games of the Ace Combat or IL-2 Sturmovik series . Management is simplified as much as possible, and the whole gameplay is tied to the performance of combat missions.
The last sub-category includes space flight simulators . The main difference from the previous ones is that you do not control an airplane, but a spaceship. The variety of mechanics here is much greater: you have to keep track of weapons and shields, keep track of ammunition and hull strength. In hardcore games, you will also have to take into account the gravitational influence of other objects – stars and planets. Among the brightest representatives of the genre are X4: Foundation, Elite: Dangerous , the long-term construction of Star Citizen, the combat fighter simulator STAR WARS: Squadrons.
If you like something peaceful, and physics is in the first place for you, take a closer look at sandboxes like Kerbal Space Program . There the player will have to build his own spaceship and fly to any planet. There are a lot of scenarios, as well as ways to achieve the goal. In such simulators, the emphasis is on design, calculation of movement trajectories, accounting for fuel consumption, and so on. Everything you need to feel like a smartass from NASA.
But what if you want to take over the management of a farm, a company, or even an entire state? Simulators will also help you with this.
City-building simulators occupy one of the largest niches. Cities Skylines , Frostpunk , the SimCity series, Tropico and Anno … In these games, you have to become the head of a city or state, and then develop infrastructure. In terms of gameplay, city-building simulators offer a huge variety – here you can implement both social and economic components. Players will have to monitor the satisfaction of people, the budget, various resources. And also promptly make decisions in case of force majeure – for example, strikes or natural disasters.
This also includes various management simulators that focus specifically on the management of the enterprise’s economy. For example, Soccer Manager and F1 Manager. Formally, the games are related to sports, but the emphasis there is on the managerial and economic aspects.
This category also includes Farming Simulator , Shelter Manager and similar games. There, the player manages a specific small settlement or firm. The scale is a bit smaller, but management mechanics are still the priority.
This is one of the oldest categories, dating back to the advent of Pong. Today you can find a simulator of almost any sport – football, basketball, hockey, billiards, rugby, cricket… Sports simulators usually boast realistic animations and good physics. The gameplay repeats the real sport as closely as possible. Large projects offer to play for real sports stars. Unfortunately, now this subcategory of simulators practically does not evolve. The reason is simple: most mechanics already mimic reality quite accurately.
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The leaders here for many years are the same series – FIFA, NBA Live and NHL from Electronic Arts, as well as Pro Evolution Soccer, Tennis World Tour and others.
You can entertain yourself with less large-scale activities than government. Lots of options. There are practically no restrictions here, so there are simulators of most popular hobbies and professions.
For example, there are many fishing simulators ( Professional Fishing and Fishing Sim World ). In them, special emphasis is placed on hooking, pulling fish and picking bait. If nature is your thing, don’t forget hunting simulators like The Hunter . As in life, you will have to find the habitat of your prey, track it carefully and shoot accurately with different weapons. You can hunt almost any game, and most importantly, no one will suffer.
There are all kinds of job simulators where you are offered to learn some profession with all the consequences. For example, you can become a baker, prison guards ( Prison Simulator ), police officer ( Police Simulator) , car mechanic ( Car Mechanic Simulator ) or computer wizard in PC Building Simulator . You can even try to become a modeler by building miniature cars or ships in Model Builder .
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In all these games, the specifics of a particular lesson are conveyed in as much detail as possible. For example, working as a police officer, you will have to make arrests, fill out paperwork, stand on the road with a radar, and even issue fines. And if you want to become a car mechanic, then be prepared for a huge variety of parts and the need to remember what goes where.
Separately from all there are ” insane simulators “. For example, for those who are looking for absolute peace and tranquility, there is a stone simulator – Rock Simulator . And if you are just obsessed with cleaning, then you can become a robot vacuum cleaner . The gaming industry does not disdain a variety of topics, so even homeless and burglar simulators are released .