Genre Guides: Simulation Games

Simulation GamesGenre: Simulation

Recommended LWK Games: Farmville, Cityville, Tiny Town, The Sims FreePlay, Tiny Tower, NintendogsAnimal Crossing: Wild World

Popular Mature-Rated Games: Second Life

Common Thinking Skills Used: Organization, Planning


Genre Description

Simulating real life might not sound all that fun as far as video games go, but titles like The Sims and Nintendogs prove that managing and replicating real life scenarios in a gaming environment can be quite an engaging experience. Some titles, like Sim City and Animal Crossing, task players with managing a variety of factors, like money, time and resources to produce a means to an end, from developing a metropolis to tending a farm or a daily garden. Some games even follow internal clocks which affect the game world if left alone, requiring players to periodically “check-in” on their simulated world. Others, like Second Life and The Sims have players raising and caring for an avatar, or in-game personality. In The Sims, these avatars need to be given housing, food, trips to the bathroom and even a social life. One requirement they all share, however, is dedication. In order to maintain the game, players need to stay on top of their resources and time, whether overseeing a city, a dog, or a socialite.

Simulation Games Are Good for Kids Who Need Help With:


Arranging and coordinating materials and activities in order to complete a task.

How-to-Play-Game-FarmVille-01Most simulation games require the player to acquire various items, so the player will need to manage his inventory to succeed. By putting his goods in order, the player can upgrade them, buy and sell items when needed, and use his items to advance the game.  As the game progresses, tasks usually become tougher, and keeping up to date with the best equipment is essential for success.


Developing a systematic approach for setting and achieving goals.

Simulation Games are especially good for kids who have trouble setting goals. In order to succeed, the player usually must decide early on in the game what he  would like to accomplish,  and then follow through in a step-by-step fashion to reach his goals. Often, this requires setting many smaller goals and completing smaller tasks in order to accomplish the long-term completion of the game.

Our Make it Work activities are designed to transform your child’s gameplay to real-world improvements in thinking and academic skills. If you’re just getting started with LearningWorks for Kids, we suggest you try them all to find which are the best for you and your child.

Introduce the Thinking Skills

Read over the pages for Organization and Planning. Then take some time to introduce these thinking skills to your child.

Explain that:

  • Organization is the thinking skill that helps us to arrange and coordinate materials and activities in order to complete a task.
  • Planning is the thinking skill that helps us to develop a systematic approach for setting and achieving goals, and complete tasks by doing things step-by-step.

Organization Activity

unnamedWork “together” on separate organizational tasks. Sit and pay bills or sort mail in a room your child is cleaning. Some children do best by inviting a friend to visit with them as they organize or by “hiring” a younger sibling to help. Many will think more actively about their own strategies if they can instruct someone else to help them.

Planning Activity

Find a hobby. Work with children on a craft or hobby that requires planning, such as making jewelry, building models, gardening, or collecting stamps or coins. Gradually put the child in charge of determining what you need to pursue your joint hobby.

Simulation games are a terrific opportunity for your child to take on a role in the digital world that he or she might not have the opportunity to do in the real world. The idea of taking on a role in play is as old as play itself.  Who has not played “school”, “house”,  or “cops and robbers”? Many adults remember some of the earliest simulation games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, which now seems archaic when compared to today’s video games. However, even these older games presented a challenge and learning opportunity that would not normally be available in real life. While some of the first simulations were neither terribly realistic, nor good preparation for the real thing, the newer ones can be great training opportunities and present scenarios that elicit creativity and imagination.

Simulation games are increasingly being used in business and the military. These games provide great training, give an individual an opportunity to try a variety of tasks, and allow one to fail in order to succeed later. Of course, this is a key component of video games–the capacity to “die” at one level and then come back and try again.

Simulation games are a cool way for your child to try out a variety of possible job choices. There are a number of games that practice engineering skills, such as Sim City Societies that allows you to develop building and contracting skills and games such as Imagine: Salon Stylist that lets you run your own hair salon.

In addition to planning and organization skills, similar games often provide an opportunity for self-awareness skills. Many of the games require that you check over your work. Some of the more interesting games provide feedback from avatars or characters within the game, so that awareness of other people’s feelings also becomes very important.

Flexible thinking is required in many of the games, as well. As the player moves on to higher and higher levels in simulation games, the need to adapt to new situations and to shift one’s strategies when one is failing, become particularly important. Just like in real life, you always have to be ready to change the way you’re doing something, if what you’re doing just isn’t working anymore.

Related Games

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