About SSSG

This is the blog of the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Social Simulation and (Serious) Games (SSSG) of the European Social Simulation Association. In this SIG, we focus on the interplay between social simulation and (serious) games. We wish to bring together researchers working on both fields to a crossroads at which synergies will be created between the two areas.

On the one hand, social simulations are used to reproduce real-life settings in order to obtain a better understanding of the social world. These simulations range from macro to micro-scale models: they try to represent a social system as a whole or as a constituent of multiple actors; the latter most often in the form of agent-based models. (Serious) games, on the other hand,  often employ metaphors while they do not always try to strictly simulate (real-life) situations, but transport these simulations to a fictitious realm in which the same general principles hold.

Games can aid the development and refinement of agent-based models (ABM) by providing interactive and engaging environments in which social dynamics, perceptions, and behaviours of the players can unfold and be studied. This could then replace or complement lab experiments as well as empirical observations. There are, however, also caveats for the transfer of observations form gameplay to agent-based models since much like agent-based models are an abstraction of reality, so are games. Fine-tuning games to serve as reliable input for ABM development may itself give insights for the fine-tuning of ABM in general and vice versa. Examples of the use of games for ABM development do exist, but the potential is yet to be fully realized.

In SSSG, we investigate how the fields of social simulation and (serious) games are linked. In particular, we focus on the following topics:

  • (Serious) game design. Which level of abstraction is chosen for a (serious) game? Will it be close to a strict simulation or will it incorporate extensive metaphors? What are the factors based on which this choice is to be made? Which (serious) game mechanics are useful?
  • Modelling the social situation. Which approach captures the situation with sufficient granularity? How should a choice be made to include specific theories and models that describe the situation? For example, using a data-driven methodology, how can the steps be made from data to theory to application (and game mechanics)? For agent-based modelling, how can artificially intelligent agents be made that act according to a specified model?
  • Example implementations. Stories of success and failure: which elements in a (serious) game that includes social interaction turn out to be useful and which are counter-productive to the game’s goal? Which elements of social simulations can be used in the design of serious games?

We intend this SIG to be an active platform for discussions and information dissemination (e.g. relevant papers and events, exchanging knowledge and experience).  In addition, we could plan any other activities that its members suggest, such as workshops, courses, conference tracks.

We welcome interested individuals from any field or level of education as we strive to take a cross-disciplinary approach to address social simulations and (serious) games.

For all queries associated with this SIG (for example wishing to join, sharing information or wanting the ability to post to this blog) please contact one of the SIG co-organisers.


Co-organiser: Timo Szczepanska, Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, Norway (timo.szczepanska<at>uit.no).

Co-organiser: Melania Borit, Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, Norway (melania.borit<at>uit.no).

Co-organiser: Harko Verhagen, Stockholm University, Sweden (verhagen<at>dsv.su.se).


The Social Simulation and Serious Games SIG is currently affiliated with the European Social Simulation Association (ESSA) and with the Simulation & Gaming journal.