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Has the simulator craze played itself out?

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Goat Simulator was funny, and Rock Simulator is an ironic observation on the former, but some believe Mountain Simulator and Grass Simulator have gone too far and that the simulator craze needs to be stopped.

While the video is clearly intended to be funny, it does raise a point worth honest consideration. At what point does a simulation program, with either no clear entertainment or training value, cease to hold any sort of value whatsoever?

Goat Simulator began as a joke. It was a product of rapid prototyping sessions, also known as a game jam, at Coffee Stain Studios. When video of an early alpha test was made public, it went viral almost immediately.

Coffee Stain Studios decided to go ahead and develop the game as a commercial product, which was released in July. Goat Simulator is essentially an open-world physics game where the player runs around headbutting objects and causing chaos for points. It’s kind of a like a Tony Hawk game, but instead of riding around on a skateboard grinding everything grindable and pulling stunts, you’re blowing things up and physically abusing everything abusable.

Rock Simulator, which is being developed by Ryan Schultz at Strange Panther Games plays off the same humor of the absurd. Where Goat Simulator gives the player something to do, however, Rock Simulator lets the player, well, move rocks around. There’s even an IndieGogo fundraiser for Rock Simulator, which is clearly intended as ironic commentary on the “kickstarted indie game” craze.

Simulator games were some of the earlier video games ever released, and they used to be serious business. FS1 Flight Simulator was released on the Apple 11 in 1980. The last overly commercial game in the series was released in 2012. Lockheed Martin has since licensed the franchise or training purposes, and Dovetail Games has licensed it for a new, entertainment-branded series of games.

Video game-like simulators are still serious business, just not in the consumer market. They’re used for medical and military training purposes

Another simulator project might have something to say about the future of simulators like Goat Simulator and Rock Simulator: Game Journalism Simulator is currently in development.

Photo by archer10 (Dennis)/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III