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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: 30/06/2020, updated in 2021
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch, Web, Xbox One, Xbox X|S and iOS
Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds
Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Hand-Made
Townscaper is a creative town-building game where you pick colours from the range available and click to put down a house in the sea. As you continue to add houses of different colours the game automatically orientates the architecture for you.
Release Date: 28/08/2018
Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One
Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person
Rocket League is a sports action game where you drive futuristic cars to score goals with an oversized football. It's a game that sounds ridiculous but is actually a huge amount of fun to play and requires a lot of expertise. What's not obvious from the...
Release Date: 28/04/2016, updated in 2021
Out Now: PC and Switch
Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On
Pico Park is a collaborative puzzle game for up to 10 players where you traverse levels using one another to solve puzzles. It's a game about communication and physics as players work to position themselves to bridge a gap, use ropes to hang off ledges...
Release Date: 03/12/2015
Out Now: PC
Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World
Orchids to Dusk is a short wandering adventure. You are an astronaut stranded on an alien planet, with only a few minutes of oxygen. You explore the world and discover fantastic gardens on the planet.
Release Date: 15/02/2006
The Endless Forest is a whimsical online multiplayer game where you play deer in a peaceful forest. You freely explore ruins and ponds, and meet other players, communicating in symbols. The world is like a moving painting, but one that players have a...
Release Date: 30/04/2020
Out Now: Android and iOS
Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds
Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels
Fancade is a collection of simple games played on smartphones. It offers simple running, jumping, puzzle, shooting challenges depicted with simple pixel visuals. Like Roblox, these offer simple versions of other commercial games. Unlike Roblox, these...
Release Date: 25/09/2020
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Web and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made
Empty is a minimalist puzzle game that teaches the value of simplicity in life. You rotate and interact with different vignettes to line up items with the same background colour. As you do this they disappear and the scene slowly empties.
Release Date: 31/12/2022
Out Now: Mac and PC
Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds
The Professional is a traversal game where you attempt to steal a diamond from the museum with a wacky twist: you control each of your character's limbs individually. This makes even the simple goal of moving forward a challenging (and hilarious) task...
Release Date: 08/08/2006, updated in 2022
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Pixels
Dwarf Fortress is a longstanding strategy game set in a fantasy world where you control a group of dwarves wanting to construct a wealthy fortress. It's unusual not only for it's text-based appearance but for it's expansive scope, and intricately...
Release Date: 07/12/2023
Out Now: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night and Weather
The Finals is an online shooting game where you are a contestant in a violent game show. You play from first person perspective, aiming to shoot opponents before they shoot you. The twist is that everything in the world from the buildings to the trees...
Release Date: 05/08/2016
Out Now: Android, Mac and iOS
Balance - Power Grid is a puzzle game about power grids. You place cables, pylons and power generators to make sure there are no blackouts. Through a series of challenges you build power grids that are functional, and that produce the right amount of...
Release Date: 28/03/2008, updated in 2021
Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks and Day and Night
Work At A Pizza Place is a strategy game where you take on the role of a team member in a pizza restaurant. When you start you choose a role and work with other online players to fulfil orders, cook pizzas, manage stock and other aspects of the business.
Release Date: 29/07/2019
Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made
#SelfCare is a companion game that aims to create space for your feelings. Unlike other apps that remind or incentivise you to take a break, breath or even just stand up, #SelfCare offers interactions and narrative that create a context for you to...
Release Date: 25/04/2019
Components: 2D Side-On, Pixels and Text
Cart Life is a simulation game where you play one of three street vendors. You attempt to run their shop whilst looking after their health, interests, and families. It has simple visuals, but depicts the realities of the thin-end of life.
Release Date: 09/02/2012, updated in 2017
Out Now: PS Vita and PS4
Gravity Rush is a running, jumping and exploration adventure game. You play as Kat, an amnesiac with the power to manipulate gravity. She uses this ability to help her community and uncover the mystery of her past.
Release Date: 20/07/2020
Out Now: Web
Components: 2D Side-On and Text
Blaseball is an online baseball simulation. Unusually though, it blends in an absurd horror story where players are incinerated and the rules can change -- a little like the board game Blood Bowl. Players compete not so much to get their team to win,...
Release Date: 30/11/2021, updated in 2021
Out Now: PS4 and PS5
Components: 2D Overhead and Blocks
Claustrofactory is a time management factory simulation. You build factories on a grid to connect their processes and make products using conveyors and assemblers and pickers. It's an unusual efficiency challenge where the best system will score the...
Release Date: 24/02/2020
Out Now: Android, PC and iOS
Components: 2D Overhead
Dish Life: The Game is a puzzle narrative game where you play a stem cell researcher, managing a laboratory and growing stem cells.
Release Date: 01/12/2019
Components: 2D Side-On, Hand-Made and Text
Bad News is a role-play game about building a news media organisation. It's designed to highlight bias in the news by putting you in charge of a series of decisions to build a profitable company. All you do is answer questions, but as you do the...
Release Date: 01/08/2021
Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather
Eidolon is a narrative game where you slowly explore a massive, post-human Western Washington. Unlike other action-oriented adventures, here you navigate an open world without threat. It's simply been reclaimed by nature, so your task is to discover...
Release Date: 10/10/2022
Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds
Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Weather
Slow Roads is a relaxing endless driving game that focuses on the simple experience of travel. You play by steering the car through the different locations and times-of-day, or switch to autopilot and let the countryside fly past automatically. It...
Release Date: 13/06/2000, updated in 2019
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS
Total War is a series of strategic turn-based war games. Each game has a different historical or fantasy setting where multiple armies battle and compete for territory. You can win by military force, religion, diplomacy, espionage and economics.
Release Date: 14/06/2015, updated in 2016
Out Now: Android, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 2D Side-On, Persistant World and Pixels
Fallout Shelter is a time management simulation game. Set in the Fallout wasteland after a nuclear war, you play as an Overseer of an underground bunker. You accrue currency to build rooms, attract people and train them to provide resources, craft...
Release Date: 07/04/2023, updated in 2023
Components: 2D Overhead and Cards
Green New Deal Simulator is a strategy game where you must shift the US economy to net zero carbon. You place Effect cards on the map to choose how each area grows its green energy while also minimising unemployment. There are other educational games...
Release Date: 13/11/2002
NationStates is a government simulation game where you manage a virtual country's administration. You do this by responding to issues which affect your nation's political freedom, civil rights, and economy. It is up to you to decide how your country is...
Release Date: 09/03/2023
Peridot is a pet simulation game from the makers of Pokémon Go. Rather than training and fighting your pet, here the focus is on digital care, teaching tricks and taking it with you on walks. It stands out for the Augmented Reality interactions and...
Release Date: 08/12/2023
Out Now: Android, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS
Rocket Racing is a racing game that combines official Rocket League mechanics in the world of Fortnite. Play involves racing against opponents on a range of different tracks, using drift, fly and boost car mechanics to gain the advantage. It stands out...
Release Date: 07/12/2020
Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds
Components: 2D Overhead and Cartoon
Slapshot Rebound is a sports hockey game where teams battle to control the puck and score goals with real-simulated physics, like the classic football game Kick Off. Play is as you would expect, however, interaction with the puck is all through...
Release Date: 21/03/2018, updated in 2023
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Xbox One and iOS
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World
Bee Swarm Simulator is a strategy game about incrementally expanding your hive of bees, to become the biggest honey producer in the world. Play is a combination of collecting pollen for honey and levelling up your swarm by hatching new bees and buying...
Release Date: 01/04/2022
Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels
Mr Traffic is a sequencing game where you tap cars to get them across a busy junction safely. What starts a simple ordering challenge soon gets complicated with cars of different speeds and not everyone stopping or going straight on. It's novel because...
Release Date: 14/04/2023, updated in 2023
Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon
Arm Wrestling Simulator is a battle clicker game where you incrementally train and then win arm wrestles by clicking. Play involves picking different styles of training to improve your biceps, hands or knuckles then taking on other players and computer...
Release Date: 29/12/2018
Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds
Kaiju Super Datetech is a robot dating simulator where you create a machine from simple parts with the unusual aim of attracting a monster date. You run around the simple level to pick up components and place them on your robot. It stands out for the...
Release Date: 18/06/2018
Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon
Wobble Frog is a game about a toy frog traversing a simple world to collect coins. The controls are simple, so simple that you can only control either your foot or your head. This makes it a joyously frustrating game where you work with the limited...
Release Date: 06/05/2003
Components: 3D First-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Persistant World
Eve Online is a space adventure where you join thousands of other players in a huge open universe to make your fortune, form industrial empires or conquer new frontiers. Play involves battling other players to control star systems and build star bases...
Release Date: 24/01/2019, updated in 2023
Out Now: Android, Web and iOS
Lucky Life is a traversal game where you navigate dangerous obstacles to get to the flag. To play you move left or right and can jump or crouch. In this way, you work with the game's physics to avoid dangerous saws, knives, arrows, spikes and bombs.
Release Date: 25/03/2016
Slither.io is a traversal action game where you control a snake that needs to eat coloured pellets to grow in size. You play by directing your snake to both collect the pellets but also to get opponents to run into you - as they then die and you can...
Release Date: 06/12/2023
Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Day and Night and Open World
Lego Fortnite is an adventure survival game that brings classic brick building to one of the Fortnite islands. Play is more like Minecraft than Fortnite (and perhaps could have been better named). Rather than shooting other players, you collaborate on...
Release Date: 01/11/2014
Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Xbox One and iOS
Welcome to Bloxburg is a simulation Roblox game where you take on daily activities in a fictional city. Drawing on gameplay from The Sims, you care for your character and keep their mood positive, by building and customizing your house, learning skills...
Release Date: 29/10/2021
Components: 3D First-Person
Crab Game is a competitive action game where you play mini-games based on the Squid Game Netflix show challenges. Similar to Fall Guys, each requires you to be the last player standing to claim the win. Here, however, the game has a darker feel with...
Release Date: 18/07/2019
Out Now: Android, Switch and iOS
Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon, Open World and Persistant World
Sky Children of the Light (Sky Children of Light) is a huge open-world online game designed to create altruism between players. From the developer of Flower and Journey, it takes you on a social adventure in an ever-expanding world with up to 8 other...