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Simulation video games aim to create play around closely simulated real-world activities. This could be a battlefield, landscape, motor racing, farming, flying or just a kitchen. The novelty is that you are not only playing a game but interacting with complex systems modelling the real-world in some way. This opens the door for creative and inventive approaches to succeeding in the game. It also provides the player with an open-world in which to spend time simply experiencing the simulation. Almost any game can offer a simulation experience as this can combine with most genres to skew gameplay in a more realistic and open direction. This can mean that players enjoy a particular game not because of the shooting or racing but because it's a chance to spend time in a simulated world or system they enjoy.From an educational and experiential perspective, a simulation game offers an entirely new way to learn and understand the world. Rather than a cold or external understanding of how things work, this offers an embodied experience of a system as the player moves and interacts with the simulation from within.
Release Date: 09/10/2018
Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Android, Mac, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made
Williams Pinball is a series of simulation games that recreate the classic pinball experience in a virtual space. You shoot the balls up the table, use the flippers to keep it up, and can even nudge the table to stop it from sinking. It stands out for...
Release Date: 04/02/2000
Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Persistant World
The Sims puts you in charge of a world of characters living normal lives. By providing a home, a job, leisure, friendships and even a love interest, you work to make them happy. It’s an open-ended game as well, although the altruism is focused on...
Release Date: 10/02/2012, updated in 2020
Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Components: 3D First-Person and Open World
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning is an adventure where you set out from the vibrant city of Rathir to rescue a world torn apart by a vicious war. Along with its huge scale, the game offers nuanced character development and a political system where you...
Release Date: 27/07/2011, updated in 2011
Out Now: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Weather
From Dust is a strategy game. You play as an all powerful God of a primitive people. The land is ancient but devoid of humans. Unusually, you control the landscape rather than the people, moving land and water and lava to give villagers pathways to...
Release Date: 04/09/2020
Out Now: DS, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World
Tony Hawk 1 and 2 is a sports simulation skateboarding game series. It features the famous skater in 19 different games. From its start in 1999 on PlayStation it is now available on most consoles and has recently been re-released in updated as Tony...
Release Date: 07/03/2012, updated in 2013
Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds
I Am Alive is an action adventure in a post apocalyptic future where an event has reduced cities to rubble. You traverse the country to find your wife and child. It draws on end of humanity fiction like The Road, and stands out for its commitment to...
Release Date: 24/01/2008, updated in 2018
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, PSP, Switch and Wii U
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: 2D Overhead
PixelJunk Monsters is a strategy game where you build defensive towers to defeat a linear march of enemies before they reach your base and kill your creatures.
Release Date: 21/10/2008
Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Open World
Far Cry 2 is a shooting game set in a fictional African country engulfed in civil war. You play a mercenary tasked with killing an antagonistic arms dealer. This involves exploring the open world and using stealth or shooting to complete missions. It...
Release Date: 22/05/2001, updated in 2018
Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World
Red Faction is a series of shooting and sabotage games. Although the games differ in terms of player perspective, they all share the ability to destroy anything in the environment. The novelty is how believably building collapse. Bring down a wall or...
Release Date: 10/12/2009, updated in 2015
Out Now: PC, PS Vita, PS3 and PS4
Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made
PixelJunk Shooter is a shooting game where you fly a subterranean vehicle to rescue scientists trapped underground. You control movement with one stick and shooting with the other. This combines with the world's physics to create a puzzling shooting...
Release Date: 25/11/2013, updated in 2019
Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On, Blocks, Day and Night, Persistant World, Pixels and Weather
Terraria looks like a 2D, lesser version of Minecraft. However, this is a game every bit as complex and creative as the better-known block-building game. To the world-crafting and survival, it adds hundreds of items to collect, characters to defeat and...
Release Date: 23/04/2013, updated in 2017
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks, Day and Night, Hand-Made and Open World
Don't Starve is an open-world survival game where it’s the environment and enemies, rather than other players, that you have to work with. You need to find and develop food, weapons and shelter to survive. It’s enjoyable because it’s hard, so...
Release Date: 22/09/2011, updated in 2018
Components: 3D Third-Person
Dark Souls is a fighting game with an emphasis on precise timing and extreme difficulty. You navigate through labyrinthine ruins and ancient kingdoms, defeating monsters with your weapons and magic. A spiritual successor to [link to game/Demons+Souls...
Release Date: 13/10/2008, updated in 2023
Out Now: Android, PC, PS3, PS5, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox X|S and iOS
Dead Space is a remake of an adventure horror game where you must survive on an abandoned spaceship filled with mutated humans. You explore and solve puzzles, all while shooting enemies and carefully managing your health and limited resources. Like the...
Release Date: 18/10/2005
Out Now: PS2, PS3 and PS4
Shadow Of The Colossus is an action-adventure game where you play a young man who enters a forbidden land to defeat sixteen massive beings to restore the life of a girl he cares about. It sounds like any other video game, although in fact, Shadow of the...
Release Date: 18/04/2011, updated in 2022
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3, Switch and Xbox 360
Portal 2 is an action adventure where you traverse through increasingly complex (and dangerous) test chamber obstacle courses. By creating two connected portals (if you walk into one, you walk out the other) you must move yourself around the rooms to...
Release Date: 11/11/2011, updated in 2017
Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World
The Elder Scrolls is a series of action role-playing games that take you to detailed open worlds with free-form gameplay. The series has sold more than 58 million copies.
Release Date: 29/10/2013
Out Now: PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag is an action-adventure game set in a fictional telling of real-world events around the 18th Century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. You run, jump, climb, explore and fight as a notorious Welsh pirate Edward...
Release Date: 16/03/2018, updated in 2018
Out Now: GameCube, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Burnout Paradise is the latest game in the Burnout series, an over-the-top racing game where you’re encouraged to crash, bash and ram other cars. Throughout the series the bravado and crashing increase, but they all have the same novel core gameplay.
Release Date: 09/10/2012, updated in 2017
Components: 3D First-Person
Dishonored is an adventure game series set in the fictional, plague-ridden industrial city of Dunwall. You play Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles. But you are framed for her murder and forced to become an assassin.
Release Date: 30/09/2014, updated in 2017
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War is an adventure series set in Tolkein's fictional work, between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. You play Talion, a Ranger who sets out to avenge the deaths of his loved one. The...
Release Date: 14/09/2007, updated in 2010
Out Now: PS3, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds
Skate is a skateboarding series with innovative controls. One stick is used to control the skater's body and the other his feet. This resulted in the need to quickly motion different patterns to intuitively achieve different tricks - what become coined...
Release Date: 01/01/1994, updated in 2017
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
XCOM is a science fiction strategic battle game where you control units to stop an alien invasion. The long-running series has come in many forms, but always has in common the finely tuned turn-based ground combat where you control a squad of soldiers...
Release Date: 14/12/2006, updated in 2012
Out Now: PS Vita, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PSP
Motorstorm is a series of games started on the PlayStation 3 with innovative tracks that got muddier as you raced. This, along with a wide variety of vehicles and routes through each of the courses makes for an entertaining and light-hearted racing...
Release Date: 01/01/1998, updated in 2012
Out Now: Android, GameCube, PC, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and iOS
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Crazy Taxi is a series of games where you take people to different locations in a city, as a taxi driver. It sounds a little dull, but in this brighter and bigger world, it's a joy rather than a chore. When you complete a fare you get money based on how...
Release Date: 01/01/2000, updated in 2012
Out Now: Android, PC, PS Vita, PS3, Xbox 360 and iOS
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
Jet Set Radio is an action game where you play a skating youth traversing Tokyo, spraying graffiti and evading authorities. It was influenced by late 90s Japanese pop culture such as the rhythm game PaRappa the Rapper.
Release Date: 13/08/2013, updated in 2021
Out Now: PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Pay Day 2 is a shooting adventure game. You are part of a criminal gang who do various heists such as bank and jewellery store robberies, as well as contract work and drug deals. It stands out for the thrill of breaking the law, committing violent...
Release Date: 11/03/2014
Dark Souls II is a fighting game with an emphasis on precise timing and extreme difficulty. You navigate through labyrinthine ruins and ancient kingdoms, defeating monsters with your weapons and magic. It pairs immense difficulty with a grand story and...
Release Date: 08/11/2005, updated in 2015
Out Now: Apple TV, DS, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead and Grid
Guitar Hero is a series of rhythm games where you tap buttons in time to all sorts of songs using plastic instrument-shaped controllers. In the latest game, Guitar Hero Live, you play along to real-life recorded performances filmed from the lead...
Release Date: 27/06/2013, updated in 2019
Out Now: PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels
Rogue Legacy is a dungeon-fighting game. Each time you die you go back to the start. However, you are resurrected as a character with different challenges: colourblind, dyslexic, a dwarf and so on. You can use gold, collected from previous lives, to...
Release Date: 11/06/2013
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3 and PS4
Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On
Super Pole Riders is a cross between the high jump, jousting and basketball. It's a simple game where four players must get a ball hanging from a wire to the opponent’s goal using long poles. It’s the controls that make this game so much of a giggle...