Near the end of Ender's Game, we learn that the final Simulation and Graduation Test was not a simulation but a real battle in which Ender committed Genocide.

In the books from my understanding all the simulations, not just the final one, were real missions, and this is revealed to Ender after the final simulation.

I am wondering if in the film were any other simulations which were just simulations, if so which ones were and were not simulations?

2 Answers 2


As far as the audience goes, we know exactly as much as Ender and his crew.

All of the simulations are simulations, except the last one.

One of the clues for this, which should be recognized by the audience but is immediately mentioned by Ender, the aliens don’t attack when they reach the their homeworld. Ender hesitates and must be encouraged to attack.

The way the film proceeds, we as an audience arn’t supposed to know, given the way we’re supposed to be clued in, much like Ender, only the final simulation is supposed to be real.

As far as the books are concerned...

"Of course we tricked you into it. That's the whole point," said Graff. "It had to be a trick or you couldn't have done it. It's the bind we were in. We had to have a commander with so much empathy that he would think like the buggers, understand them and anticipate them.

All of the simulations were real.

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    I always understood it as when Mazer started being in charge of the simulations was the actual beginning of real battles (at least in the book). He lies, saying that he's writing the simulations because the computer isn't complex enough so they have to have a military genius who understands the buggers best, when in all reality the battles are real and Mazer isn't doing anything extra. Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 14:49

What got me thinking that all the sims (at least all that Mazer was in charge of) was his comment to Graff that "you can't absorb these kinds of losses. War isn't a game where you get to reboot and start over"


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