God game: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sim video game.svg
Part of a series on:
Simulation video games

A god game[1] is a construction and management simulation game that casts the player in the position of controlling the game on a large scale, as an entity with divine/supernatural powers, as a great leader, or with no specified character (as in Spore), and places them in charge of a game setting containing autonomous characters to guard and influence.

Many god games do not have explicit victory conditions, but instead challenge the player to attain and maintain a level of success. With the absence of goals or objectives, the player often experiences a greater deal of freedom in such games than other genres.

The genre has drawn the interest of some of the best-known game designers in the world, including Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, Bruce Shelley, Don Daglow, Peter Molyneux and Will Wright. Often this category provided the game that launched the designer's career.


Game design

God games are characterized by gameplay in which the player makes optional interventions in the game world, for instance in the form of miracles or calamities, rather than being necessary for its continual progression. Unlike normal strategy games, the user does not directly control the simulated inhabitants of the game world, and instead must affect the world and influence its subjects without directly controlling them; there is a minimum of "click-select-order" gameplay. With some exceptions, god games tend toward large scales, where the player controls or affects entire realms, continents or worlds, which are viewed from an elevated, aloft perspective.

In Black & White, renowned for its innovative and experimental user interface, the user interacts with the world through the "Hand of God", which can move or form the world, or even grab villagers (generally a frightening experience for them). By performing physical miracles, the user earns worship in early stages of the game; mana that is earned from worship can in turn be used to perform miracles by gesturing arcane signs. The Sims, on the other hand, has a more conventional interface where the user directs their sims' desires through HUD icons. In Populous the characters are directed by placing "papal magnets", which the player can instruct his followers in general to go towards, as well as by offering revelations to selected subjects making them prophets and instruments of the player's will.

In god games, the game world is often relatively self-sustaining and persistent. There have been assertions that any "game" without win and loss conditions should not be considered a game by definition. Possibly the most famous of these was made by Will Wright, who prefers to call his creations software toys rather than games. Examples of such god games are Little Computer People, The Sims and Spore.

It is common for most people in god games to look alike. Early god games only featured models for full-grown men and women, while Black and White introduced children.[2]

Players are given the power to control the lives of autonomous creatures or people, which can sometimes appeal to the fantasy of omnipotence.[2]


The first god game of the above described kind (large-scale, aloft-perspective) on a console was Utopia by Don Daglow on Intellivision (1982), while the first such game on a personal computer was Populous by Peter Molyneux of Bullfrog Productions (1989). Both titles have been placed in GameSpy's Video Game Hall of Fame. The term was first used in a novel, The Magus (1966), to refer to taking part in a large-scale simulation.


God games come in a wide variety, from abstract or mathematical simulators to creative or conventional games. In most god games, the game is observed from an aloft, elevated perspective (Little Computer People with its side view is an exception). Many popular god games, like Bullfrog's Populous and Lionhead's Black & White are games of territorial domination while others, like SimEarth, are not. In some notable games, like Little Computer People and The Sims the player controls only one or some very few simulated individuals, providing for and guiding their lives, while in some god games the user plays a godlike entity that controls entire continents or worlds. In Black & White, the player guides a nation of up to thousands.

Related genres

Sibling genres related to and sometimes mutually confused with god games include city-building games, like SimCity, and business simulation games, like Railroad Tycoon and other Tycoon games. The chief difference is that in such games the player normally has no supernatural abilities to influence the world or its inhabitants. 4X games like the Civilization series might be considered akin to god games in that they oversee and declare the development of a nation or species over the course of a few millennia.


  1. ^ Kosak, Dave, Black and White 2 E3 Preview (PC), GameSpy May 13, 2004, Retrieved on Feb 10 2008
  2. ^ a b Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall. http://wps.prenhall.com/bp_gamedev_1/54/14053/3597646.cw/index.html.  

See also

External links


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

A god game is a game for all of those people out there who said once in their life that they could do better than god. This is their chance to prove themselves, and have fun while in the process. The title "father of all god games" is generally attached to the creator of Populous and Black and White, Peter Molyneux.

Defining Characteristics

  • Generally very open-ended
  • Gives you control over a civilization so you can mold it
  • Does NOT give you complete control over every person (unless the game is also an RTS)

This article uses material from the "God game" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address