This question is as old as flight simulation itself. From the earliest computer simulations of flying it has been considered a fun pastime for some and a serious training tool for others.
People on both sides of the discussion have strong feelings about this and I suspect that not everyone will like my answer.
I believe that flight simulators are a game for some, and a serious simulation for others. This means that the simulator itself absolutely has the capability to provide serious and valuable training and experience to someone who uses it.
But those that think it is a game will argue against this and point out that there are no consequences to your actions and you can press pause.
They are right! When I am flying a fighter jet in full afterburner down the highway in the sim, I have no illusion that I am using a simulator…..it IS a game.
However, for the bulk of my flying in the sim I am conducting serious flights for training purposes and I will not pause. I fly these flights like I would in a real plane. I use an abundance of caution and professionalism at all times. When I am using the sim like this it is absolutely a simulator.
Want to learn more about flying the sim like you would a real plane?