In this article by an astounding three authors, it is stated that simulation and gaming are connected, and will continue to grow together, from things like flight simulators, to the proposed project to simulate an actual human brain in a digital space. These simulations require millions of instantaneous and complex calculations. However, there is a difference between simulations and simulation games, in that the latter is not only an imitation of something, but that it is also a goal-directed experience. Again, think of flight simulation games, where the objective is to land your plane and not kill everyone. An interesting observation in the article is that war simulation games have existed for centuries before the invention of computers, and still count as simulations. An important factor that must be present in digital simulation games is an artificial intelligence, or AI. The article clarifies the difference between studying AI used for simulation, and the actual simulation necessary for AI to exist. AI is what allows advanced simulation games to react to player interaction outside of the context of predetermined events.
In my own life, I can’t tell you how many times bad AI has ruined a game for me. Maybe it’s because I’m playing it on Liquid Easy, but when I play Metal Gear Solid and can stand 5 feet in front of a guard without him noticing me, it takes me out of the experience. I am not longer playing a stealth simulator, I am playing some weird Japanese developer’s idea of what stealth is. Metal Gear Solid never claims to be realistic, but games can be stylized without flaws like this existing.