My thinking is that students first need to experience hunter-gatherer life on their own. The struggle to survive environmental risks, coupled with the need to hunt food and gather supplies is intensified by the fact that they are working alone. This could be parlayed into a group hunter-gatherer simulation to reveal the benefits of living in a tribe or group. Students could also begin to explore some limited labor distribution. As they hunt and gather in groups, they will discover that it can be easier to survive threats, but that many environment challenges remain constant - such as exhausting the supply of animals or plant resources.
Finally, students could experience the benefits of agriculture by growing crops and domesticating animals instead of chasing them all over the virtual world. They could develop more sophisticated tools and establish permanent settlements.
Last week, my students completed the solo survival portion of this instructional sequence, and today they engaged in a group survival simulation. Here's how that looked in my classroom: