We all like to live our lives and pretend that we are someone else, or at least, we have all done it at least once. This is one of the reasons why RPG games are so popular. You take a character and forge them into someone else, someone better, someone who can fight battles, monsters and face their own demons.
Given that games transport us to a new dimension entirely, should we even ask the question? Why are simulation games so popular? Let’s dive in and find an answer.
Simulations Are Great
Purchasing a truck or plane costs a lot. Organizing your own Truman Show is illegal in so many ways and building your own Roman Empire would require technology that we currently do not have.
Since all of these things are inconvenient, we have to settle for something a bit less expensive, simulation games. You take the wheel, the sticks and fly or drive, get immersed in a life which you could have, or which you would want to try, but not everybody is the Dragonborn, able to master any skill.
Immersion is Key
Most simulation games get immersion completely right. Whether building or management simulators, amusement parks, trucks or airplanes or choppers, simulators get the immersion part right. With that, we can easily sit back and enjoy the ride. If you get the appropriate gear, such as a steering wheel or flight stick for planes and choppers, you can immerse yourself in the gameplay even more.
Some people build entire racing cockpits, with multiple screens, a racing chair, a steering wheel, pedals, a gear stick and everything else that might contribute to feeling like you are in a vehicle.
The thing with video games is that there is no responsibility. If you crash the plane, you just load the game. If you destroy an amusement park you load the save and try again. The realism leaves the building once you click the play button.
The surrealistic approach to some of the simulators is often what attracts people, even though they would like to think that it is realism. The games can warp reality in ways that reality won’t allow. Without any responsibility and with a bit of fantasy, simulators are close enough to the real thing.
The God Feeling
When you take control of an entire civilization or any type of city/prison/resort/amusement park, you are in charge. You are not just in charge, you can basically delete anything you disagree with. It is empowering to be in charge to an extent that you can do anything you desire.
Everyone likes to play god at some point so why not do it with a couple of simulators?
Most simulators are nowhere near the real thing, at least the video games aren’t, with a couple of exclusions like X-Plane (which is to be fair, a real simulator). Most simulators simplify things to the point where an average person can execute takeoffs and landings. Comparing X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator is like comparing driving a real car on a snowy and icy steep climb versus driving a car in GTA.
Simulator games are very successful, simply because they give us what we can’t easily achieve, control, immersion and a feeling of doing something almost real. Sometimes they give us the feeling of being in charge, depending on the game.