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Simulation video games

Life simulation games (or Artificial life games)[1] are simulation games in which the player lives or controls one or more artificial lifeforms. A life simulation game can revolve around "individuals and relationships, or it could be a simulation of an ecosystem".[1] This genre often includes the following subgenres:



Life simulation games are about "maintaining and growing a manageable population of organisms"[2]. Games may involve a population or one or many organisms. Games may simulate animal or human intelligence.

Artificial life games are related to computer science research in artificial life. "Because they're intended for entertainment rather than research, commercial A-life games implement only a subset of what A-life research investigates."[2]

Players are given the power to control the lives of autonomous creatures or people, which can sometimes appeal to the fantasy of omnipotent power.[1]


While life simulation games are a relatively young genre, it includes several subgenres.


Biological simulation

Various games simulate either entire ecosystems controlled by the player where the organisms may evolve (similar to God games) or the life of an individual animal whose role the player assumes (similar to arcade or role playing games).

A typical representative of the biological "God game" variety is SimLife, which, albeit rather abstract, aims to simulate ecosystems similar to those of the Earth. Another example is Darwinbots, an even more abstract artificial life program which seeks to simulate the general principles of biology, but is also used as a programming game with shooting "bots" similar to Robot Battle. While these two focus on the simulation of life itself rather than the entertainment value and feature no fictional story or fantasic elements, such may be found in the Creatures series and in a multitude of games in the tycoon genre (e.g. the Wildlife Tycoon series or Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis): these nevertheless also attempt to simulate, in a detailed and partly realistic fashion, the natural behaviour of animals, plants, and sometimes ecosystems (as in Wildlife Tycoon) and genetics and evolution (as in Creatures).

Another group of biological simulation games seek to simulate the life of an individual animal whose role the player assumes (rather than simulating an entire ecosystem controlled by the player): these include Wolf and its sequel Lion, the similar WolfQuest, and the more modest Odell educational series.

In addition, a large number of games have loose biological or evolutionary themes but don't attempt to reflect closely the reality of either biology or evolution: these include, within the "God game" variety, Evolution: The Game of Intelligent Life and Spore, and within the arcade/RPG variety, a multitude of entertainment software products including Bird Week, Eco and EVO: Search for Eden.

Pet-raising simulation

Pet-raising simulation games can be "simulations of real animals, as in the Petz series"[2] or "fantasy ones like the Tamagotchi"[2]. The pets are called 'virtual pets'. Unlike biological simulations, the pet does not usually reproduce[2]. They generally do not die[2].

The pet is capable of learning to do a variety of tasks. "This quality of rich intelligence distinguishes artificial pets from other kinds of A-life, in which individuals have simple rules but the population as a whole develops emergent properties".[2] For artificial pets, their behaviors are typically "preprogrammed and are not truly emergent".[2]

Pet-raising simulations often lack a victory condition or challenge, and can be classified as software toys.[2] A large amount of pet-raising games can be found on the Nintendo DS. There are also numerous online pet-raising/virtual pet games, such as Neopets or wajas.

Social simulation

Social simulation games explore social interactions between multiple artificial lives. The most famous example from this genre is The Sims[3], which was influenced by the 1985 game Little Computer People.[4]

Example titles

Biological simulations

Loosely biology- and evolution-inspired games

Some games take biology or evolution as a theme, rather than attempting to simulate.

  • Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest (2002, Nintendo) – an action adventure.
  • Eco (1998, Ocean)
  • E.V.O.: Search for Eden (1992, Enix) — an arcade game which portrays an evolving organism across different stages. "Evolutionary points" are earned by eating other creatures and are used to evolve.
  • flOw (2006, Jenova Chen) — a Flash game similar to E.V.O.
  • Lack of Love (2000, ASCII Entertainment) - a role playing game; the player assumes the role of a creature which gradually changes its body and improves its abilities, but this is done by means of more varied achievements, often involving social interactions with other creatures.
  • Seventh Cross Evolution (1999, UFO Interactive Games) - an action game.
  • Spore (2008, Electronic Arts) - a multi-genre god game. The first and second stages are biology-themed, although the second stage also has more role playing game elements.

Social simulations

See also



Up to date as of February 01, 2010

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

A life simulation game is smaller subgenre of simulation games as it specifically deals with simulating other people's lives. Most of these game deal with resource and time management.

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


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