Want a change from the sci-fi adventures, the reckless shooting or the fantasy quests most games deal with? Then today you’re in luck:

The Mac is full of top-notch simulation games to try.

Whilst it is undeniably fun to play games for escapism, simulation games allow players to experience something from the real world.
From being the mayor of a city to managing a football team, these games require patience and a bit of brainpower to get the most from them.

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From letting you build the biggest rollercoasters, become a rocket scientist, or just ..erm.. get a shower in the morning, the following are some of the best Mac simulation games available right now.

And if you ever need a break from the demands of a good simulator, you can always visit our Top 100 games for Mac for more great games to try.

The Best Simulation Games for Mac

What can seem overwhelming at first, such as learning how to operate a theme park, with time and effort will become easier and more than a little addictive.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3

The sky is very nearly the limit in this updated version of the game originally released in 2004. Using the game’s impressive creation tool to build rollercoasters of any shape and size means your ride may not quite reach the sky, but will still give your park visitors a sense of vertigo. Not that the game is all about roller coasters, though. There are plenty of other rides and attractions to build, and as this edition of the game incorporates two expansion packs, Soaked and Wild, you can now include waterslides, swimming pools, and safari parks.

You begin the game with an empty piece of land and with a little bit of hand-holding from the tutorial you will quickly learn how to create your very own amusement park. Your job is to make as much money as possible, so while it’s great to have a good looking park, you need people to visit. If the rides you build aren’t exciting enough, people will stop using them. And if they’re too fast, you will need to hire extra staff to clean up the vomit left behind by the guests. The more money you make the more attractions you can build and the bigger and better your theme park will be. You can also destroy your creations, so feel free to tear down the animal enclosures to get your guests running for their lives, or build a broken rollercoaster to send unwitting guests flying into the swimming pools or the hungry mouth of a lion.

The graphics are a little dated, but this is overcome by how immersive the game is. No wonder this game is still one of the finest games for Mac available today. I just hope the upcoming Rollercoaster Tycoon World won’t ruin its legacy…

The game should run fine on most Macs and whilst there have been reports of slowdown and game crashes, turning off the shadow effect in the game will solve most technical problems.

✓ Any Mac will suffice, even an older one will do.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.8.5, 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB ATI Radeon HD2600, Nvidia Geforce 8600, Intel HD 3000.

Euro Truck Simulator 2

Grid Autosport too fast for you? Then maybe this will be more up your street. Get behind the wheel of a haulage lorry and travel around Europe carrying cargo from depot to depot. Excited yet?

Admittedly the game doesn’t sound very interesting at first, but as you start playing you will begin to appreciate the relaxing play style in one of the less stressful simulation games for Mac. In your bid to make your way to the top of the trucking industry you need to build a successful freight company by taking on contracts to make more money allowing you to buy new trucks and hire other drivers. In delivering cargo across the continent you will need to manage fuel, pull over when tired and obey the laws of the land, such as keeping to speed limits.

The licensed trucks handle realistically but are probably easier to drive than in real life. Thankfully you don’t need to parallel park one! You are given the option of a first-person view which adds to the realism as you can see the dashboard and mirrors, but the third person is probably the better way to drive, allowing you a better view of the road traffic.

You also level up enabling you to allocate points on enhancements, including leaping over tall buildings and firing rockets at other road users… only joking, this is a simulation game after all! Points can be spent on such things as using less fuel and giving you the ability to handle dangerous loads.

Those looking for an action-packed experience may not have patience for the game, but for some, the opportunity to upgrade trucks and expand your freight company will be compelling.

The game is reportedly able to run fine on most Macs though some people have recommended turning down anti-aliasing for a better performance.

✓ Any Mac will suffice, even an older one will do.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.9, 2.4 GHz Dual core CPU, 4 GB RAM, GeForce GTS 450-class (Intel HD 4000).

Farming Simulator 17

Driving a haulage lorry too fast for you? Well, this may be the game you’re looking for. In this open world farming sim you get to drive a tractor, and as anybody will know who has ever driven behind one, you can’t get much slower than that. The game is much more than tractor driving, however, and with a whole farm to manage you really will reap what you sow.

As with many simulators, this is a very niche game, but the fact it has sold so well means there is an audience out there for a slower-paced experience. Here you choose a farm, grow crops, tend to your animals, cultivate the land and spread everything with manure, sure to annoy the neighbors! You need to utilize your time well as in any working day there are lots to do, so prioritizing your time and focus is important.

The game plays in real time so you will actually spend a lot of time harvesting your fields, driving your tractor up and down until the job is done. The more money you make the better vehicles, equipment, and machinery you can buy to get the job done faster.

Not everything in the game is realistic. Should you hit the curb when driving a tractor you can easily flip over. Be aware that tractors in the real world don’t flip over so easily, so no matter how tempted you may be to nudge one when driving behind, don’t! You will probably come off worse.

There have been some performance issues on some Mac models so check your graphic card’s capability before purchase.

⚠️️ Requires a recent Mac with average specs.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.9.1, 2.0 GHz Dual core CPU, 2 GB RAM, Nvidia Geforce GTS 450 Series, AMD Radeon HD 6770 or better (min 1GB VRAM).

Kerbal Space Program

Now is your opportunity to go where no man has gone before, or rather where no Kerbal has gone before. Because you’re now responsible of these little green men as you help them embark on space travel and discover new planets.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to master the game but you will need patience and dedication to help the Kerbals achieve their dream of entering orbit. The game may look cute with cartoony graphics but it’s harder than you might expect.

Sandbox Mode gives you everything you need to begin your space mission and your only limitation is your imagination in the spaceships you build. Building the rockets is as simple as dragging and locking pieces together and in this mode, there is no consequence of failure. In the Science and Career Modes the game becomes more trial and error, as even if your rocket achieves take off there is no guarantee it won’t come crashing down to earth seconds later due to the game’s use of real world physics.

You won’t only be building rockets. Choose Career Mode and you will find yourself in charge of the entire space programme. Here you need to raise funds to research rockets and other vehicle parts, expand your space station, train your crew, explore new planets to extract valuable resources, and more.

This is a difficult and complex game but is one of the few instances in gaming where you will genuinely learn something useful. Now, who said rocket science isn’t fun?

Higher end Macs should run the game with no problem, but there have been issues with lag and crashes on lower end Macs. Lowering the graphics settings should help.

⚠️️ Requires a recent Mac with average specs.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.8, Intel CPU, 3 GB RAM, SM3 512MB VRAM.

Football Manager 2017

The new edition of Football Manager is not dissimilar to the 2016 edition but contains several new upgrades which may please budding football managers.

The core gameplay is business as usual as you choose and manage one of over 2000 real world football clubs. You train, transfer and scout players, negotiate staff contracts and make tactical team and player decisions. This is the Football Manager fans are accustomed to, an evolution rather than a revolution.

Newcomers to the game may struggle more than experienced players, especially if, like me, they are not familiar with football rules and tactics, so any planning can literally be hit and miss when it comes to the matches themselves. Thankfully this entry is a little easier than previous games in the series, with an improved 3D engine, slicker menu screens and visual representations of a team’s strengths and weaknesses rather than reams of menus and submenus with pages of statistics. You will also receive emails from background staff giving you advice on how to improve your game and fake Twitter feeds which give you positive and negative feedback from virtual fans.

There seems to be no problems running Football Manager 2017’s Mac version, even older models run the game fine and there is the option to use 2D rather than 3D if slowdown occurs.

⚠️️ Requires a recent Mac with average specs.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.7.5, 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT or AMD Mobility Radeon HD 2400 with 256MB VRAM.

The Sims 2

Okay, so The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 are available on Mac and have various advanced features, including better AI and graphical detail. However, gameplay hasn’t really advanced much since the original Sims game and in The Sims 2: Super Collection there is a lot more content than is currently available for those later games. Also, this edition has been rewritten for modern hardware with updated graphics for retina screens and greatly increased MacBook performance.

For those who have never played the game, the basics are these; you begin by creating a Sim, customizing their face, hair, clothing and genetics, you can even create a whole family if you like; once pleased with your creations you move them into a house, which again is fully customizable. Here your sims will interact with each other and the neighbors, make friends and possibly enemies. Your job is to manage their time, ensure they find a job to make money to expand the house and fulfill their needs and dreams.

This edition of the game contains 6 expansion packs, which are University, Nightlife, Open For Business, Pets, Seasons and Bon Voyage. These are pretty self-explanatory and increase the gameplay opportunities within the game. There are also 3 packs of new items to buy within the game, titled Family Fun, Glamour Life and Happy Holiday.

Whilst it is satisfying to fulfill your sims dreams, the sociopath in you may also enjoy creating a Sim that looks like your worst enemy. Build a house with no doors, windows or furniture and watch them slowly go insane. Deprive them of a toilet and shower and their hygiene hits rock bottom. You can be as kind or cruel you want and that is why this game series is one of the best Mac simulation games around, despite its age.

✓ Any Mac will suffice, even an older one will do.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.9.5, 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM.

Prison Architect

In most simulation games, you need to make your virtual people happy. Prison Architect is a little different. As you take on the role of a prison architect and governor, you need to look after the inmates in your private prison, but you are not here to cater to their every whim. After all, this isn’t a holiday camp! Rehabilitation is an option, but there will be times in the game when, despite everything you have done for them, they will still lose their cool, have riots and try to escape. That’s all the thanks you can expect in this 2D prison experience.

You begin by constructing your prison and then hiring staff. As it’s a private prison you need to make money, so every inmate you take in will increase the amount of money you make. You also have a reputation to build, so full-scale rioting, drug smuggling, and escaping prisoners will not be looked at lightly by your investors.

The game is also quite dark so don’t be deceived by the cartoony graphics. These inmates have committed crimes, including murder, and some need to be contained before they are given the death penalty, in an execution chamber you have built yourself. You are running a business, but it’s not a pleasant one. Whilst you can focus on rehabilitation and create a relatively pleasant place for the inmates to live, you can also go full Shawshank and build a maximum security prison and make their stay a living hell. Make sure you confiscate their Rita Hayworth posters, though!

Prison Architect will run fine on most Macs and recent updates ensure the performance is even better.

✓ Any Mac will suffice, even an older one will do.

Minimum System Requirements: 2009 era Macbook Pro, Dual core CPU, Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM.

Rocksmith 2014

If you have ever wanted to be a rock star, but consider yourself musically inept, don’t worry, this could be the game for you. Whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned professional, this game has been designed to accommodate all skill levels. All you need is an electric or bass guitar and a ¼” output jack to plug into your Mac. Sadly, the Mac version of the game does not come bundled with a guitar, but chances are most players would prefer to have their own guitar rather than the basic effort that comes with the console versions.

I had a terrible music teacher at school and he was always happy to criticize budding musicians rather than encourage them. Thankfully Rocksmith is a much kinder teacher. The game monitors how you play and adjusts itself accordingly so you never really feel like a failure. It also provides you with other virtual musicians who will follow your every lead in Session Mode so you really will feel like a rock god in no time. Split screen multiplayer will let you jam with a friend and online leaderboards allow you to compare your rocking skills with other wannabe musicians.

The game contains a number of tools to help you practice, and with the extensive number of songs available from bands such as Aerosmith, Green Day and Queen, there is a lot of variety on offer. There are over 50 tracks to learn and play as well as backward compatibility with the original Rocksmith and plenty of DLC on offer.

The game works fine on most Macs, including older MacBook models.

✓ Any Mac will suffice, even an older one will do.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.7, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB NVidia GeForce 8600 GT or ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT.

Stardew Valley

You may be wondering why we need another farming simulator on the list. Good question. But imagine crossing Farming Simulator with Animal Crossing and you have a pretty good idea of what Stardew Valley is like.

You begin the game by inheriting your grandfather’s farm. It’s a neglected and run down place so your first task is to clean it up and make it operational again. You then begin to grow and harvest crops before advancing on to livestock, including chickens, pigs, and sheep. It’s a lot like Farming Simulator, though with pixelated graphics and no crazy tractor physics. However, eventually, the game moves beyond the farm and reveals new depths and rewarding gameplay.

Nearby is a mine containing treasure which you can plunder and sell for profit. The game then becomes a hack and slash combat game as you fight the skeletons and jelly monsters within. You can go fishing at the nearby lakes and beaches, or forage for fruit in the local woods. There are other plentiful opportunities in the town, where you can befriend the local community and complete tasks for them, such as helping the embarrassed Mayor find his shorts or helping a father bond with his son. These pixelated people have a backstory, and you will find it hard not to warm to them. You can even fall in love and get married.

Mastering farming, making friends, cooking, crafting, hack and slash combat; this is a game filled with many rewarding moments and is deeper than it first appears. Farming Simulator too mundane for you? Then this could be the game to go for.

As most pixelated adventures, Stardew Valley performs well on old and new MacBooks.

✓ Any Mac will suffice, even an older one will do.

Minimum System Requirements: MacOS 10.9, 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB video memory, OpenGL 2.

Your turn

The games on this list are just examples of the many simulation games on Mac. Whatever your hobby or idea of fun, it is likely there will be a game that suits you. Check the Mac App Store or Steam for some of the other simulation games on offer and say goodbye to the real world as you enter the life of a virtual one.

Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission (this is how we pay the bills). This commission comes at no additional cost to you

This article comes from Lee Brown, of Mac Gamer HQ’s newest contributors. You can find more of this work here.