Malaby & Frasca

According to Gonzalo Frasca the concepts of simulation and representation are two ways of dealing with reality, that both coexisted throughout our culture, but representation and therefore, narrative has been dominant, mainly due to the fact that complex simulations require a level of sophistication that is near impossible without a computer. This not to say that it did not exist it was just less ubiquitous. With the recent and exponential advances in technology we have the tools to push simulation into previously unexplored territory. Simulation can now be used to model systems that were before too complex to deal with, providing a powerful alternative to representation through which to attempt to understand our world. Simulation does not necessarily have to be a tool for education, but also for art and entertainment including, and perhaps most notably, videogames. Unlike narrative, simulation offers a first hand experience of a dynamic system allowing for greater understanding of rules and relationships.

Probably a better way to understand the difference between simulation and representation is to compare their characteristics. Narrative usually presents a bottom-up sequence, describing a particular event from which we can infer rules and relationships. Simulation, on the other hand, present a top-down sequence, focusing on general rules which we can then apply to specific cases. Both concepts are commonly associated with education, however, simulation is greater tool for teaching complex rules because it allows for experimentation. An obvious example of simulation is the multi award winning pc game, The Sims. Comparing a game revolved around life simulation with a movie or TV show about coming of age, growing, learning, the key concept separating the two is behavioural rules. A TV show or film can show the mechanics of living, aging, relationships, in a narrative structure through which it is up to the viewer to interpret the rules. The Sims is a dynamic system that behaves like a family, like people, like life and also having the characteristics, while the TV show or film only provides characteristics.


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