Lemmings offered their own addictive format in the early 90s; Sim City and other Sim Life games created fans of scale with their appeal of controlling environments and creating life-like situations and spaces. Simulation games are an ongoing popular game genre for with many positive, often addictive, qualities: control, progress, user-created domains, and a chance to learn new processes, behaviors, and master role-playing. In the right formats and programs, simulations can serve as a valuable educational experience for all ages.
A recently launched simulation game may just grab your attention this year, with the release of LDW software’s Virtual Villagers. Virtual Villagers is a unique game to reinforce your simulation-game habit: similar to a Sim City-style setup, players of the game are positioned to create an island of villagers who learn basic survival skills. It’s a kid’s version of ‘survival of the fittest’, first hand. The game is animated and simple enough to master in one or two trials; it offers endless opportunities for growth and interaction.
Virtual Villagers is different than other simulation games because it continues to ‘run’ even when you turn it off. In essence, it is created to perform in real time, but does allow you to ‘pause’ the game if necessary. The villagers are designed to go about their days as you go about yours; hunting, fishing, creating homes, finding food, conversing with neighbors, and playing games. The user is the master controller of the lands; a few decisions here and there each day will determine the outcome of your village’s growth or decline. All it takes is 10-15 minutes of playing time each day and the village can prosper and grow on its own.
Creating virtual tribes and communities is a great way to educate and nurture young kids to try out decision-making and problem-solving skills. Challenges in the virtual world can stir up creativity and learning to manage and grow from the ‘ground up.’ LDW Software also offers Fish Tycoon, a fish-breeding game, and Plant Tycoon, a virtual gardening game. Both can also offer great educational experiences for young players, as they incorporate problem-solving, math, science, and common sense in a variety of situations.
Virtual gaming itself has taken on new dimensions with new outlets in software, hardware, and programs. Virtual worlds give players a chance to experience direct interaction and results from their decisions; simulations can be wonderful learning experiences. Games like Virtual Villagers can offer kids a chance to enjoy and master control of an environment safely and in a healthy way, nurturing some fundamental learning skills in the process.