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ATD Blog

SimWord of the Day: Real-time


Mon Jan 09 2006


At the highest level, a simulation is real-time if it does not stop and wait for the user to input before continuing as a turn-based simulation might. Said another way, if the user does not do anything, the simulation takes that as the input.

Almost all computer games are mostly real-time.


Some consider real-time simulations to be more realistic, engaging, and educational.

  • They are more realistic because many "real-life" target situations, from flying to negotiating, are real time, and so that dimension is a critical part of it. They also create pressure which mimics the pressure found in situations that aren't inherently speed-based.

  • They are more engaging, in that they require intense awareness, and the constant requirement to deal with surprising situations. They also might prevent people from over-analyzing.

  • They are educational, but also because they make it easier to see fluid patterns play out.

Of course, even educational simulation real-time zealots (people who would argue for a real-time simulation even if the target use of the content is not real-time) would still argue for paused moments of reflection, such as an after action review.

It is finally worth noting that real-time is not synonymous with twitch-speed. A good real-time simulation, unlike a twitch-game, could still be of significant educational value if played turned-based.

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