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The origin and beginnings of simulation games

He is the author of Gaming the Past: He also maintains the site gamingthepast. This blog entry is the first part of a six-part series. Read more on using games in the classroom in parts twothreefourfiveand six.

Using simulation games effectively in the classroom poses challenges.

  • In addition, simulation games are interpretations of the past that facilitate student questioning and criticism;
  • Evolites — Simple Evolution Simulator 2006, Reflect Games — a simple life simulation where you indirectly control the fates of a countless number of tiny, unique creatures, known as Evolites;
  • You could zone land for residential, commercial, or industrial use, place roads, power lines, police stations, and more, all in the hopes of forging a livable, desirable city that could attract "sims" to settle and work;
  • SimLife — another Maxis game which experiments with genetics and ecosystems;
  • Some, such as Arch Rivals , satirize the sport for comic effect;
  • Finding Potential Games Knowing the hardware basics is all very good, but where can one find appropriate games for classroom use?

The power of such games to offer compelling and unique learning opportunities is very real, however, and well worth the effort. I invite readers to use the guidelines in this series to harness the power of simulation games.

I encourage teachers to engage in their own play, experimenting with simulations thoughtfully, taking calculated risks in the classroom, wading into the chaos, and guiding students towards a more meaningful and relevant study of the past. What is a Simulation Game?

Teaching History With Digital Historical Games

A simulation game is a game—computer game for the purposes of this series—that dynamically represents one or more real-world processes or systems in the past. This is a broad definition that essentially includes most—but not all—history-themed games, games the origin and beginnings of simulation games place the player in historical roles, ranging from traders and subsistence farmers, to rulers and generals.

Historical simulation games have the power to immerse students in a world of conflicting goals and choices where they have the power to make decisions and experience virtually the consequences of those decisions.

When playing a simulation, as opposed to reading a text, listening to a lecture, engaging in a discussion, or watching a film, the learner can, ideally, confront firsthand the constraints human actors in the past faced. They can learn about the scarcity of resources, importance of systems, ties of relationships, and a host of other things.

Simulations can encourage learners to consider the historical and physical contexts people in the past faced and, best of all, to view the past as a the result of myriad human choices that were not preordained in any sense.

In addition, simulation games are interpretations of the past that facilitate student questioning and criticism. Players naturally have questions and criticisms about gameplay—even history-themed gameplay.

  1. Read about the Library of Congress's video game collection. The Norns are semi-autonomous, but must be trained to interact with their environment to avoid starvation.
  2. When playing a simulation, as opposed to reading a text, listening to a lecture, engaging in a discussion, or watching a film, the learner can, ideally, confront firsthand the constraints human actors in the past faced. The first step in actually designing a lesson or unit around a historical simulation game is to select an appropriate game.
  3. I invite readers to use the guidelines in this series to harness the power of simulation games.

When these are fostered by the teacher and classroom environment, powerful historical inquiries can result. Simulation games can be very effective tools, therefore, for teaching the fundamentals of analyzing and critiquing historical interpretations.

General Hardware Considerations So much for the preliminaries.

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The first step in actually designing a lesson or unit around a historical simulation game is to select an appropriate game. It helps when doing so to understand at least in brief the computer hardware and software required to run these games.

There are two main types of simulation games. The first are browser-based. These games reside on the Internet.

They are almost all programmed using Adobe Flash and can be played on any Web browser that uses the Flash plugin. In practice every computer of the past decade, PC or Mac, with high-speed Internet access can play these games.

Android devices that have Flash enabled and a sufficiently large screen can also play these games. IPads—lacking the functionality to play interactive Flash content—cannot. Browser-based games are free, tend to be relatively simple to play, and tend to focus on contemporary issues.

  • Using simulation games effectively in the classroom poses challenges;
  • SimPark Seaman — a virtual pet game that simulates the raising of a talking fish that develops into a frog-like creature;
  • Existential questions In researching this article, I came across two major stumbling blocks;
  • Seaman video game 2000, Vivarium — a virtual pet video game for the Sega Dreamcast;
  • Search for Eden 1992, Enix — an arcade game which portrays an evolving organism across different stages;
  • Construction and management simulation Construction and management simulation CMS [8] is a type of simulation game in which players build, expand or manage fictional communities or projects with limited resources.

Since they are often playable in 20 minutes to one hour, they are excellent choices for those new to simulation game lessons and those interested in shorter game-based lessons. The second category of games are desktop games. They tend to be commercial, though there are free-to-play exceptions. These games are usually more sophisticated than their browser-based counterparts. They cover a range of historical periods largely untouched by the browser games; by the same token they tend not to deal with contemporary events.

Finding Potential Games Knowing the hardware basics is all very good, but where can one find appropriate games for classroom use? One can find all sorts of options with a bit of time and a search engine, but here are a few suggestions for starting points. Gaming the Past has a comprehensive index, listing most of the viable simulation games available as of this year.

Life simulation game

The Gaming the Past website lists a portion of those games and is updated several times a year. In my opinion, these are the best places to go for desktop online simulation games full disclosure: I wrote the book and designed the website.

Games for Change maintains the most comprehensive lists of games, mostly browser based, designed to tackle serious contemporary issues. The site links directly to the browser-based games to allow easy play. Playing History is a comprehensive listing of online history games, many of which are simulation games.

Care is needed to separate more from less useful games. It contains a number of simple but effective simulations from various parts of British history and more general European history.

  • Creatures artificial life program 1998—2002, Creature Labs — an early 'artificial-life' program, the Creatures franchise features creatures called 'Norns', each of which has its own 'digital DNA' that later generations can inherit;
  • One can find all sorts of options with a bit of time and a search engine, but here are a few suggestions for starting points;
  • I couldn't bring myself to call games that feature anthropomorphic animals "life sims;
  • One can also hunt through video game review websites looking for reviews of historical games;
  • Browser-based games are free, tend to be relatively simple to play, and tend to focus on contemporary issues.

One can also hunt through video game review websites looking for reviews of historical games. PC Gamerboth the website and the magazine, is my favorite of these resources when it comes to browsing for appropriate desktop games with historical themes.

Video games as primary sources?

Simulation video game

Read about the Library of Congress's video game collection.