Serious Simulations

In general, when we speak about serious games we think of games that teach us how to do something outside of the game world. We wouldn’t include such games a Mario Kart or Final Fantasy as serious games because we are not likely to race magical go karts or do whatever it is you do in the Final Fantasy games.

What about simulations? Of course, a driving simulation could be used by a driving school to educate aspiring motorists. But think about a grander scope than that…

Remember those “Tycoon” PC games we had growing up? Roller coaster tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, etc. Although we are not all likely to go out and create our own amusement parks, these games do act as serious games.

Through Roller Coaster Tycoon, I learned at a young age (1) it is very, very difficult to build a successful amusement park and (2) (from my only successful amusement park) it impossible to hire enough custodians to clean acres-worth of litter and roller coaster vomit.

Games like these do not necessarily teach us the appropriate skills needed to do the job in the game. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting my time in college when I could be a roller coaster tycoon.) However, you do learn something valuable from them that you would get out a training course for the position:

An appreciation for the people who do this stuff in real life.

Everyone loves to complain about politicians; it’s almost how you get any interest in politics in the first place. But I like to cut politicians a little slack regarding their decisions because HAVE YOU PLAYED SIM CITY 4?!

I have yet to make a city that the citizens were happy with and didn’t go bankrupt within a half hour of playing it. The experience taught me that budgeting is difficult regardless of how much money you begin with. So, though I may not be a mayor some day, I’ve learned something from the experience that another game couldn’t teach me.

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