Simulation games have their origin in the "war game". The Prussian military used it systematically and on a large scale for the first time to plan military strategies and tactics. After the end of the Second World War, simulation methods found further fields of application, first in companies and for "urban planning" and then in various educational contexts at universities and schools.

In practice, the collective term "simulation game" refers to a large number of different methods. These include: Computer simulations, behavioral role-playing games with and without computer-assisted simulation, haptic board simulation games, training firms, as well as more recent approaches of digital and non-digital learning games and game-based learning and web-based distance simulation games. Also those topics are of importance which are currently discussed with the currently fashionable terms "serious games" or "gamification".

Especially against the background of a global (learning) world, the digital transformation in companies and educational institutions combined with an ever decreasing half-life of knowledge, research in the field of simulation games and serious gaming is of particular importance. In the future, research will increasingly focus on hybrid solutions that combine digital simulation games with haptic elements.

As different as the various types of simulation games are, they all have three basic elements (cf. Ceccini 1988).