Is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 a game or a simulator? This is a question that many people have been asking since the release of the latest version of the popular flight simulation software. Some might argue that it is both, while others might say that it is neither. I’ve sunk countless hours into it (and enjoyed every one, apart from the occasional CTD on final), so here’s my take.
What is a simulator anyway?
First of all, what is a game and what is a simulator? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a game is “an activity that one engages in for amusement or fun” and a simulator is “a device or system that simulates an environment or situation”. Based on these definitions, one could say that Flight Simulator 2020 is both a game and a simulator, since it allows the user to engage in an activity for fun (flying a plane) and simulates an environment or situation (the real world).
However, these definitions are not very precise and can be applied to many different types of software. For example, one could also say that Grand Theft Auto V is both a game and a simulator, since it allows the user to engage in an activity for fun (driving a car) and simulates an environment or situation (a fictional city). But most people would agree that Grand Theft Auto V is more of a game than a simulator, since it does not aim to be realistic or accurate in its representation of the real world.
So, how realistic or accurate is Flight Simulator 2020? Well, it depends on how you look at it. On one hand, Flight Simulator 2020 boasts some impressive features that make it very realistic and accurate in some aspects. For example, it uses real-world data from Bing Maps to create detailed and dynamic landscapes, it simulates realistic weather conditions and effects, it features over 37,000 airports and hundreds of planes with realistic physics and controls, and it allows the user to fly anywhere in the world with live traffic and multiplayer options. These features make Flight Simulator 2020 one of the most immersive and realistic flight simulation software ever created.
So is it good enough to be called a simulator?
Flight Simulator 2020 is not perfect and has some limitations and flaws that make it less realistic and accurate in other aspects. For example, it does not include all the buildings and landmarks in every city, it has some glitches and bugs that affect the graphics and performance (CTD on final, looking at your Microsoft!), it does not simulate all the systems and procedures of every plane, and it does not account for all the human factors and variables that affect real-world flying. These limitations and flaws make Flight Simulator 2020 less than a true simulation of reality.
So, where does Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 fall on the spectrum between game and simulator?
I think that it falls somewhere in the middle, but closer to the simulator side. MSFS 2020 is more than just a game, since it offers more than just amusement or fun. It is also a learning tool, a hobby, a passion, and a challenge for many people who love aviation. It is also more than just a simulator, since it offers more than just simulation or realism. MSFS is also an art form, a fantasy, a dream, and an escape for many people who love flying.
In the end, Flight Simulator 2020 is both a game and a simulator, but not entirely either. It is something in between, something unique, something amazing. It is Flight Simulator 2020.