This is one of those things you can try to answer with a good heart but stringing together a bunch of English words betrays you. A lot of people have trouble understanding what the deal is when it comes to simulation vs emulation.
The problem here is the differences are so close yet so far and therein lies the problem as to why so many people have trouble trying to figure out what the difference between simulations and emulations are.
Breaking Down the Simulation vs Emulation Mystery
One thing to know is that you can’t peat simulators vs emulator because that will be comparing apples to oranges. The point is they are two different entities performing two different functions.
An example of a simulator is something like Flight Simulator X 2016. An example of an emulator is something like Dolphin, the emulator for Wii and GameCube. As we keep those in mind we can now go in and describe what simulators and emulators are.
What is a Simulator
A simulator is an environment which models or mimics the behavior or functionality of something else. The depth of the mimicking here is that it tends to copy the thing being simulated as accurately as possible.
In this case, the environment just pretends to do what the thing being simulated does. Simulators are normally end-to-end appliances.
In this case, the Flight Simulator pretends to be airplanes and goes on to mimic the behavior of real-world airplanes.
What is an Emulator
On the other hand, an emulator is an environment that does the same thing as the environment being emulated. The emulator acts as a translator in between the environment being emulated and the application that is meant to run in that environment.
In this case, the environments see the application the way it would expect. Again the application sees the emulated environment as though it was the real environment.
The outcome here is always that of the original environment.
In context, a piece of software may be built run on system xyz. In the absence of system xyz you would need an emulator to represent that system xyz accurately to allow the software to run without any alterations.
When this happens, video games designed to run on the Nintendo Wii or GameCube will run on the emulator on a Windows, Mac or Linux computer and behave as though it is actually running on the actual device.
Simulation vs emulation must, therefore, be differentiated with the above illustrations and you will be able to tell them apart.