A Taxonomy of Simulation Related Activities

By R. Garry Shirts

I developed the following schema to help me think more accurately about “gaming and simulation” activities. The basis of this classification system is three kinds of very different but related activities: simulations, games, contests.

If we combine these three activities into all possible combinations, we get the following categories:

  • Simulations
  • Games
  • Contests
  • Simulation Contests
  • Simulation Games
  • Game Contest
  • Simulation Games Contests

These seven categories can account for most of the activities that pass for “simulation” type activities. Let’s examine them one by one. […]

Pure Simulations (Non-contest, Non-game)

Much of the confusion around the word “simulation” occurs because we want to differentiate between the noun “simulation” and the infinitive “to simulate.” In the simulation gaming field, a simulation is something more than that which simulates; the term “simulation” has been reserved for the modeling or simulation of systems which can be represented in part by mathematical or quasi-mathematical formulas.

In the taxonomy proposed here, however, that distinction is not recognized. A simulation, rather, is anything that simulates or models reality. Listing representative examples of “simulations” from the very abstract to the concrete, we arrive at a surprisingly varied array of activities:

  • Mathematical formulas
  • Models of:
    • Physical systems
    • Military, industrial, and economic systems
    • Social systems
  • Role Playing
  • Film Making
  • Literature
  • Painting
  • Sculpture

The first four items unquestionably qualify as simulations in the traditional sense. Role-playing, however, is generally regarded as a lower class cousin, and film making, art, and sculpture as members of unrelated though honorable families. They are included here as “simulations” because:

  1. The Sculptor, artist, filmmaker, and writer, are, in fact, simulating reality much of the time.
  2. Recognition of the similarity of the artist-as-simulator and the engineer/social/scientist educator-as-simulator may serve as a means of bridging the communication gap between C.P. Snow’s two cultures: the technocrats and the artists.
  3. It is possible that we […]
By | October 16th, 2013|Categories: Customers Used - Schools & Charities|Tags: , |Comments Off on A Taxonomy of Simulation Related Activities