Life Simulation Games:
       A Survey
        David Warhol
  Realtime Associates, Inc.




      Games For Health Confere...
Today’s Talk
•   Vital Stats
•   Gameplay / Game Mechanics
•   Goal / End State
•   Life Span Represented
    – Continuous...
Wikipedia on Life Simulation Games
• “Life simulation games (or artificial life games) are
  simulation games in which the...
A Brief Aside: Conway’s Game of Life
 • 1970
 • Played on a grid
 • Each grid cell is either ‘live’ or ‘dead’
 • Each grid...
LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE
LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE
• Activision
    – Entertainment
•   1985
•   C64, Atari ST, Apple II, Amiga
•   Single Player
•   ...
LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE
• Tamagochi gameplay
  – Keep the lil’ guy alive
• Open-ended gameplay – no goal per se
• Static li...
LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE
• Measures:
  – No statistical exposure to character’s moods
  – Entirely observed through behavior...
LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE
• Action to Consequence: High
• Did fairly well for its time
• Supposedly had a serialized disk whi...
ALTER EGO
ALTER EGO
• Activision
    – Entertainment
•   1986
•   C64, Apple II, DOS, Mac
•   Single Player
•   Text-based with a gr...
ALTER EGO
ALTER EGO
• Questionnaire game mechanics
• Not specifically goal oriented
   – Make decisions for an imaginary person thro...
ALTER EGO
• Measures:
  – Familial; Intellectual; Physical; Social; Vocational
  – Calmness; Expressiveness; Gentleness; H...
ALTER EGO
• Action to Consequence: Medium
• Non-linear gameplay within each phase
• Usually humorous but some dire consequ...
JONES IN THE FAST LANE
JONES IN THE FAST LANE
• Sierra
  – Entertainment
• 1990
• MS DOS / PC VGA
• 1 to 4 players
  – Plus play against “Jones” ...
JONES IN THE FAST LANE
• Board game mechanics
  – Players alternate turns “simultaneous single player”
    – players don’t...
JONES IN THE FAST LANE
• Measures:
  – Wealth; Happiness; Education; Career
• Actions:
  – Find Job; Go To School; Buy/Sel...
MY LIFE MY LOVE:
BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI
MY LIFE MY LOVE:
BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI
• Banpresto (Japan)
    – Entertainment
•   1991
•   Nintendo Entertainme...
MY LIFE MY LOVE:
BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI
• Board Game Mechanics
  – In video game clothing
• Player who has the mo...
MY LIFE MY LOVE:
BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI
• Measures:
  – Unknown
• Actions:
  – Cash; Exclamation; Card; and Blank...
PRINCESS MAKER 2
• Gainax (Anime)
    – Entertainment
•   1993
•   MS DOS, Windows, Sega Saturn
•   Single Player
•   Seri...
PRINCESS MAKER 2
• Menu Loop Gameplay
• Grow your adopted daughter to adulthood
   – 70+ outcomes
   – Span from positive ...
PRINCESS MAKER 2
• Measures:
  – Constitution; Strength; Intelligence; Refinement; Charisma; Morality; Faith;
    Sin; Sen...
PRINCESS MAKER 2
• Action to Consequence:
  – High (schooling, jobs)
  – Low (behind the scenes modeling)
• End game talks...
THE SIMS
• Electronic Arts
  – Entertainment
• 2000, 2004, 2009
• PC/Mac Installed Executable
  – Variations & versions on...
THE SIMS
• God game mechanics
  – Sims run somewhat autonomously
  – Instruct Sims what to do
• Open ended goal
  – What E...
THE SIMS
• But your Sims have goals
  – Grow Up; Romance; Family; Knowledge;
    Popularity; Fortune
• Your Sims have want...
THE SIMS
• Measures:
  – Composite Mood Meter based on needs of:
    Hunger; Energy; Bladder; Hygiene; Comfort; Fun;
    S...
ANIMAL CROSSING
ANIMAL CROSSING
• Nintendo Co. Ltd.
  – Entertainment
• 2001
• N64 (Japan), Gamecube (US)
• Single Player
  – Players can ...
ANIMAL CROSSING
• Collection game mechanics
   – Collect insects, creatures, fossils, fish…
   – Increases experience to c...
ANIMAL CROSSING
• Measures:
  – “Stuff” - Not in statistic form but in graphic form
  – Your character is always happy
• A...
ANIMAL CROSSING
• Action to Consequence: High
• Could visit other characters by saving your
  character out to a memory ca...
Ayiti: The Cost Of Life
• Global Kids, Gamelab, Unicef
AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE
• Global Kids, Gamelab, Unicef
    – Beyond Entertainment
•   2006
•   Web browser game
•   Single...
AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE
• Social / economic sim game mechanics
• Choose a goal / end condition between:
  Health; Happines...
AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE
• Measures:
  – Health; Happiness; Education
  – For each family member
• Actions:
  – School, Fam...
AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE
• Action to Consequence: High
• Take-aways:
  – WOW is it a rough life in third world poverty!
• D...
KUDOS 2
KUDOS 2
• Positech Games (Indy)
  – Entertainment
• 2008
• PC Installed Downloadable Executable
• Single Player
KUDOS 2
• Manage a character’s life
  – Do one thing each weekday, two things each
    weekend day
• No set goals
  – Non-...
KUDOS 2
• Measures:
  – Energy; Loneliness; Happiness; Confidence;
    Kudos; Excitement; Relaxation; Sobriety;
    Cleanl...
KUDOS 2
• Action to Consequence: High
  – Lots of information available to help you make
    the right choices
• Much of t...
REAL LIVES 2010
• Educational Simulations, Inc.
    – Entertainment & Beyond Entertainment
•   2009 (with earlier versions...
REAL LIVES 2010
• Menu-driven decision making gameplay
• Goal: Live a life
  – No financial, happiness goals inherent in t...
REAL LIVES 2010
• Measures:
  – Personal: Health; Resistance; Happiness;
    Intelligence; Artistic; Musical; Athletic; St...
REAL LIVES 2010
• Actions:
  – Education: Quit School; Enroll in College; Vocational
    School; Graduate School
  – Caree...
REAL LIVES 2010
• Action to Consequence: Low
• Measures income vs nation & income vs
  world
• Incredible in comparing Wes...
THE GAME OF LIFE
• Milton Bradley (now Hasbro)
  – Entertainment
• Originally 1860; Current form 1960; updated
  periodica...
THE GAME OF LIFE
• Risk & Reward Gameplay, with randomization
  – Some gameplay critics argue randomization plays
    too ...
THE GAME OF LIFE
• Measures:
  – Money
  – Collect “Life Experiences” which are money
• Actions:
  – Earn money
  – Follow...
THE GAME OF LIFE
• Action to Consequence: Some Low, Some High
• Periodically updated to keep with the times
  – 9 “LAWSUIT...
Take-Aways
• Goal / End State
   – Set by game; set by player; not set at all
• Life Span Represented
   – Cradle to grave...
Take-Aways
Alter Ego         Jones             Ayati               Kudos 2       Real Lives

                             ...
Life Simulation Games:
            A Survey

Comments…?
             Questions…?
                           Conversation…?
Thank You!



                  David Warhol, President
                 Realtime Associates, Inc.
        2101 Rosecrans ...
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
A Survey of Life Simulation Games
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A Survey of Life Simulation Games

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Mr. Warhol presents a survey of 'life simulation' games created through the years, with a focus on overall structure; similarities; differences; and unique features.

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A Survey of Life Simulation Games

  1. 1. Life Simulation Games: A Survey David Warhol Realtime Associates, Inc. Games For Health Conference Games Beyond Entertainment Week
  2. 2. Today’s Talk • Vital Stats • Gameplay / Game Mechanics • Goal / End State • Life Span Represented – Continuous or phased • Start Conditions • Statistics Used to Measure Simulated Life • Actions Possible to Take in Simulated Life • How Obvious Are Consequences To Actions
  3. 3. Wikipedia on Life Simulation Games • “Life simulation games (or artificial life games) are simulation games in which the player lives or controls one or more artificial lifeforms. A life simulation game can revolve around individuals and relationships, or it could be a simulation of an ecosystem” • Usually one of three subgenres: – Biological – playing with genetics, survival, or ecosystems – Pet-raising simulations – e.g. Tamagotchi, Nintendogs – Social simulation games – gameplay based on social interaction between the player and game entities
  4. 4. A Brief Aside: Conway’s Game of Life • 1970 • Played on a grid • Each grid cell is either ‘live’ or ‘dead’ • Each grid cell interacts with its eight neighbors – Live cells with fewer than two neighbors dies of under population – Live cells with more than three neighbors dies of overpopulation – Live cells with exactly two or three neighbors lives to go on to the next generation – Dead cells with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell • These rules create amazing patterns • Martin Gardner, introducing Life, in Scientific American, October 1970: – “[Conway’s Life] belongs to a growing class of what are called 'simulation games' (games that resemble real life processes)”
  5. 5. LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE
  6. 6. LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE • Activision – Entertainment • 1985 • C64, Atari ST, Apple II, Amiga • Single Player • “Little Computer People Discovery Kit”
  7. 7. LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE • Tamagochi gameplay – Keep the lil’ guy alive • Open-ended gameplay – no goal per se • Static lifespan (character doesn’t age) • Male character moves into house and goes through his daily routine – Cooking, watching TV, reading newspaper…
  8. 8. LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE • Measures: – No statistical exposure to character’s moods – Entirely observed through behavior • Actions: – Give gifts – Talk / make requests through keyboard (“Please play the piano”; “please feed the dog” – Play card games
  9. 9. LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE • Action to Consequence: High • Did fairly well for its time • Supposedly had a serialized disk which made each person behave differently • Acknowledged by Will Wright in the making of the Sims
  10. 10. ALTER EGO
  11. 11. ALTER EGO • Activision – Entertainment • 1986 • C64, Apple II, DOS, Mac • Single Player • Text-based with a graphic interface
  12. 12. ALTER EGO
  13. 13. ALTER EGO • Questionnaire game mechanics • Not specifically goal oriented – Make decisions for an imaginary person through their life • Cradle to grave – Phased: Birth & Infancy; Childhood; Adolescence; Young Adulthood; Adulthood; Middle Adulthood; Old Age – Different actions available at different times • Scripted differently for male & female players • Starts with a series of questions to test the player’s values
  14. 14. ALTER EGO • Measures: – Familial; Intellectual; Physical; Social; Vocational – Calmness; Expressiveness; Gentleness; Happiness; Thoughtfulness; Trustworthiness – Money • Actions: – Family; Intellectual; Physical; Social; Vocational; Emotional – Work; School; Relationships; Risks; Children; Purchase; Marriage
  15. 15. ALTER EGO • Action to Consequence: Medium • Non-linear gameplay within each phase • Usually humorous but some dire consequences depicted • Was criticized to be somewhat preachy • CGW: “A delightful, humorous and thought- provoking exercise in decision-making, value exploration and evaluation, and vicarious wish- fulfillment.” • Would I replay it as another person? Probably not.
  16. 16. JONES IN THE FAST LANE
  17. 17. JONES IN THE FAST LANE • Sierra – Entertainment • 1990 • MS DOS / PC VGA • 1 to 4 players – Plus play against “Jones” the NPC
  18. 18. JONES IN THE FAST LANE • Board game mechanics – Players alternate turns “simultaneous single player” – players don’t interact with one another – 8 to 10 actions per turn on weekdays – Weekends are random plus/minus events • Goal set by players – A mix of Wealth; Happiness; Education; Career • Starts from high school graduation – Plays continuously until end goals are met
  19. 19. JONES IN THE FAST LANE • Measures: – Wealth; Happiness; Education; Career • Actions: – Find Job; Go To School; Buy/Sell Things; Eat; Banking Transactions; Upgrade Housing – Some locations serve as a place to work as well as use of that service • Action to Consequence: High
  20. 20. MY LIFE MY LOVE: BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI
  21. 21. MY LIFE MY LOVE: BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI • Banpresto (Japan) – Entertainment • 1991 • Nintendo Entertainment System • 1 or more players • Expensive for its time • Translation: (Male) I Dream – (Female) I Wish
  22. 22. MY LIFE MY LOVE: BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI • Board Game Mechanics – In video game clothing • Player who has the most strength, intelligence, or positive emotions wins • Starts at birth – Player picks a birth date between 1950 and 1980 and plays forward through accurate historical context – End state is the year 1991
  23. 23. MY LIFE MY LOVE: BOKU NO YUME - WATASHI NO NEGAI • Measures: – Unknown • Actions: – Cash; Exclamation; Card; and Blank Spaces – Establish friendships & romantic relationships with NPCs – NPC pets you must take care of – Childhood & adolescence offer the most choices while adulthood is fairly linear
  24. 24. PRINCESS MAKER 2 • Gainax (Anime) – Entertainment • 1993 • MS DOS, Windows, Sega Saturn • Single Player • Series of PM 1-5 – PM 2 Translated to English but never released • Set in fantasy medieval Europe (c. 1210 ad)
  25. 25. PRINCESS MAKER 2 • Menu Loop Gameplay • Grow your adopted daughter to adulthood – 70+ outcomes – Span from positive to negative – Player chooses outcome by playing a certain way • From age 10 to age 18 – Decisions made monthly & bi-monthly • Starting conditions set by sign of Zodiac and blood type
  26. 26. PRINCESS MAKER 2 • Measures: – Constitution; Strength; Intelligence; Refinement; Charisma; Morality; Faith; Sin; Sensitivity; Stress; Combat Skill; Combat Attack; Combat Defense; Magic Skill; Magic Attack; Magic Defense; Fighter Reputation; Magic Reputation; Social Reputation; Housework; Decorum; Art; Conversation; Cooking; Cleaning; Temper; Maternal Instinct; Relationship to Palace; Relationship to Father • Actions: – Father/Daughter talk; Visit Castle; Adventure; Rest/Vacation – Study: Poetry; Painting; Dance; Fighting; Fencing; Strategy; Protocol; Decorum; Theology; Magic; Science – Job: Housework; Babysitter; Inn; Farm; Church; Restaurant; Lumberjack; Salon; Masonry; Hunter; Graveyard; Tutor; Bar; Sleazy Bar; Cabaret
  27. 27. PRINCESS MAKER 2 • Action to Consequence: – High (schooling, jobs) – Low (behind the scenes modeling) • End game talks down inappropriate choices – …but game doesn’t prohibit you from making them • End state determined on the last move of the game – Could qualify as Queen, but if other stats are too high, will become a Warrior Hero or Skilled Dancer • Managing Stress is the main factor
  28. 28. THE SIMS • Electronic Arts – Entertainment • 2000, 2004, 2009 • PC/Mac Installed Executable – Variations & versions on most consoles & hand helds • Single player • One of the most successful video game series of all time
  29. 29. THE SIMS • God game mechanics – Sims run somewhat autonomously – Instruct Sims what to do • Open ended goal – What EVER you want – Sandbox gameplay – “Digital Doll House”
  30. 30. THE SIMS • But your Sims have goals – Grow Up; Romance; Family; Knowledge; Popularity; Fortune • Your Sims have wants and fears – Change often, coincide with game actions • Cradle to grave represented – Discreet phases for Toddler; Child; Teen; Adult; Elder • Usually start as adult
  31. 31. THE SIMS • Measures: – Composite Mood Meter based on needs of: Hunger; Energy; Bladder; Hygiene; Comfort; Fun; Social; Environment • Careers • Skills • Actions: • The sky is the limit • Action to Consequence: High, Deep
  32. 32. ANIMAL CROSSING
  33. 33. ANIMAL CROSSING • Nintendo Co. Ltd. – Entertainment • 2001 • N64 (Japan), Gamecube (US) • Single Player – Players can “visit” other players • Nintendo considered it a “communication game”
  34. 34. ANIMAL CROSSING • Collection game mechanics – Collect insects, creatures, fossils, fish… – Increases experience to catch higher level things • Open Ended Goal – no end state – Collect stuff, make your house better • Static Lifespan (characters don’t age) – Runs on real world clock/calendar – Recognizes seasons, holidays • Player moves into village, lives there indefinitely
  35. 35. ANIMAL CROSSING • Measures: – “Stuff” - Not in statistic form but in graphic form – Your character is always happy • Actions: – Catch/Collect; Chores; Shopping; Feng Shui; Monthly Raffle; Design Clothes; Play Retro NES Videogames – Some effect gameplay, some are idle/fun activities
  36. 36. ANIMAL CROSSING • Action to Consequence: High • Could visit other characters by saving your character out to a memory card, then running that memory card on another system with another character • A great example of virtual life simulator integrated into an entertainment experience
  37. 37. Ayiti: The Cost Of Life • Global Kids, Gamelab, Unicef
  38. 38. AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE • Global Kids, Gamelab, Unicef – Beyond Entertainment • 2006 • Web browser game • Single Player • “What is it like to live in poverty, struggling every day to stay healthy, keep out of debt, and get educated?”
  39. 39. AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE • Social / economic sim game mechanics • Choose a goal / end condition between: Health; Happiness; Education; Money • 4-year slice of life divided into 4 3-month seasons – Make decisions for all five family members for that season then watch the season unfold • Starts with father, mother, three children, and hardly any money
  40. 40. AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE • Measures: – Health; Happiness; Education – For each family member • Actions: – School, Family Farm, Work, Hospital, Store • Each with cost and income consequences – Some mid-quarter decisions come up (pay for hospital, continue working…)
  41. 41. AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE • Action to Consequence: High • Take-aways: – WOW is it a rough life in third world poverty! • Definitely conveys the message of its creators – With humor and levity • There IS a path to win it – Jayisgames.com: “I’m not sure which was more compelling, the later feelings of success as I worked the dominant strategy, or the early feelings of anguished sympathy as these people helplessly struggled with no way out.”
  42. 42. KUDOS 2
  43. 43. KUDOS 2 • Positech Games (Indy) – Entertainment • 2008 • PC Installed Downloadable Executable • Single Player
  44. 44. KUDOS 2 • Manage a character’s life – Do one thing each weekday, two things each weekend day • No set goals – Non-judgemental open ended outcome • From age 20 to age 30, continuous • Start with no money and skills for an entry level job
  45. 45. KUDOS 2 • Measures: – Energy; Loneliness; Happiness; Confidence; Kudos; Excitement; Relaxation; Sobriety; Cleanliness; Weight; Optimism; Extravert; Honesty; Charisma; Health; Culture; IQ; Fitness; Persuasion; Muscles • Actions: – Evening Classes; Relax With Self; Activity With Friends; Look For Job
  46. 46. KUDOS 2 • Action to Consequence: High – Lots of information available to help you make the right choices • Much of the game is keeping up relationships • Can’t socialize without money • Friends characteristics rub off on you
  47. 47. REAL LIVES 2010 • Educational Simulations, Inc. – Entertainment & Beyond Entertainment • 2009 (with earlier versions dating to 2002) • PC Installed Downloadable Executable • Single Player • Live one of billions of lives in any country in the world – “Through statistically accurate events, Real Lives brings to life different cultures, human geography, political systems, economic opportunities, personal decisions, health issues, family issues, schooling, jobs, religions, geography, war, peace, and more!”
  48. 48. REAL LIVES 2010 • Menu-driven decision making gameplay • Goal: Live a life – No financial, happiness goals inherent in the game • Cradle to grave – Not segregated into discreet phases but more options become available over time • Starts in a random location, situation, economic class based on statistics – Has a character designer to override
  49. 49. REAL LIVES 2010 • Measures: – Personal: Health; Resistance; Happiness; Intelligence; Artistic; Musical; Athletic; Strength; Endurance; Conscience; Wisdom; Religion; Language – Family: Diet; Home; Safe Water; Public Sanitation; Medical Care; Televisions; Radios; Telephones; Cars
  50. 50. REAL LIVES 2010 • Actions: – Education: Quit School; Enroll in College; Vocational School; Graduate School – Career: Get a Job; Quit Job; Work Overtime; Ask For Raise; Start a Business – Finance: Monthly Expenses; Borrow or Invest – Love & Relationship: Seek a New Romance; End Romance; Propose Marriage; Leave Marriage; Try For a Child; Adopt a Child – Residence: Move Out; Change City; Change Dwelling; Emigrate – Leisure Activities: Change Leisure Activities
  51. 51. REAL LIVES 2010 • Action to Consequence: Low • Measures income vs nation & income vs world • Incredible in comparing Western to Non- Western cultures – Character goes from disease to disease – Can’t stay in school • Powerful teaching tool
  52. 52. THE GAME OF LIFE • Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) – Entertainment • Originally 1860; Current form 1960; updated periodically • Board Game • Two or more players (ages 9 and up)
  53. 53. THE GAME OF LIFE • Risk & Reward Gameplay, with randomization – Some gameplay critics argue randomization plays too strong a role in gameplay; I say, exactly! • Goal: “The player with the highest total value wins!” (Money, money, money!) • Spans from high school graduation to retirement • Starts with the decision to get into the work force right away vs. going to college
  54. 54. THE GAME OF LIFE • Measures: – Money – Collect “Life Experiences” which are money • Actions: – Earn money – Follow instructions – “Lucky Spin” gambling – Share the Wealth cards
  55. 55. THE GAME OF LIFE • Action to Consequence: Some Low, Some High • Periodically updated to keep with the times – 9 “LAWSUIT: Sue Another Player for $100,000” squares – Rewards for “Win on TV Game Show”; “TV Dance Show Winner”; “Host Entertainment Awards Party”; and “Spring Break in Florida. Pay $5,000” • You Must Get Married – Though kids are random, but ultimately are a source of money as shower gifts
  56. 56. Take-Aways • Goal / End State – Set by game; set by player; not set at all • Life Span Represented – Cradle to grave; subset span; static – Continuous vs. broken into discreet phases • Measures & Actions – How obvious are the measures presented • Diverse pool of products from which to draw ideas – Lots of interesting mechanics • Can be effective for both entertainment & games beyond entertainment
  57. 57. Take-Aways Alter Ego Jones Ayati Kudos 2 Real Lives Common Expressions of Measurement Happiness Happiness Happiness Happiness Happiness Money Wealth Money Money Money Intellect Education Education IQ Intelligence Vocational Career (yes) (yes) (yes) Physical Health Health Health Trustworthiness Honesty Conscience Family Family Muscles Strength Fitness Athletic Social Extravert Calmness Relaxation Unique Expressions of Measurement Expressiveness Energy Wisdom Gentleness Loneliness Resistance Thoughtfulness Confidence Artistic Excitement Musical Sobriety Endurance Cleanliness Religion Weight Optimism Charisma Culture Persuasion
  58. 58. Life Simulation Games: A Survey Comments…? Questions…? Conversation…?
  59. 59. Thank You! David Warhol, President Realtime Associates, Inc. 2101 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 6250 El Segundo, CA 90245 310-414-8555 x103 DaveW@RTAssoc.com www.RTAssoc.com Games For Health Conference Games Beyond Entertainment Week

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