WE ARE THE BEST WORKERS THE SMOOTHIE SHOP HAS EVER HAD: Things Tiny Tower Is, Part 2

3) …a place of anonymity

When I first began making my tower, I knew all the Bitizens in it. There were only about ten of them for quite a while, and they all looked pretty different from one another, and the BitBook thing– a tiny version of Facebook which the Bitizens chatter on for your entertainment– was hilarious. They were saying clever things to one another while puttering around in my tower, at my mercy, so I loved them.

I would like to tell you some kind of charming anecdote about this time, but I have forgotten all my Bitizens. I have too many. I have nintey Bitizens. They all look the same to me. To tell them apart, I have begun buying special outfits for them with Tower Bux. I dress everyone from the same business according to a theme. Everyone in the Aquarium is wearing a giant frog suit. It helps me tell them apart.

As the number of Bitizens increases, they will continue to be more than my brain can handle, and I will continue to be unable to tell them apart. They will continue to be cheerful, passive cogs in whatever machine this is, totally anonymous and practically interchangeable. They express themselves in BitBook, scrambling madly for individuality, but the rate of repetition is comically high, particularly when a lot of Bitizens suffer the same event at the same time. When I am tired, when the screen blurs, the chatter comes across not as a weak feature but as a cynical commentary on Facebook itself.

Modern life, as depicted in Tiny Tower, consists of a consumer environment filled with identical, happy, marching, mouth-flapping little dudes who repeat the same meaningless trivialities over and over again, buy expensive products they cannot use, come from nowhere, and exit to nowhere.

The game itself even seems to makes fun of this. There’s a Bitizen-finding mini game which asks you to find a Bitizen somewhere in your tower.They give you a picture and set you off. You’ve seen them before– they’re vaguely familiar– but for the life of you, you can’t remember who they are, or what they do, or where you put them. They’re interchangeable. There are so many of them that thier individuality is meaningless. That’s why I’ve started putting teams of them them in clown suits.

The businesses are generic, too. We get a “Mexican Food,” a “Plant Store,” and a “Wedding Chapel.” The vaguest names, like the “Asian Cuisine,” are the worst. I can imagine the Bitizens talking to one another in tinny robot voices:

“What nutriment do you desire for today’s evening meal?”

“I desire the Asian Cuisine.”

“I shall obtain for you a sample of Asian Cuisine.”

“Obtain for me the sample of Asian Cuisine which costs two Coins. I prefer it to the Asian Cuisine which costs three Coins.”

“Affirmative.”

In my imagination, these little robots live in a cloud of complete robot happiness. They enjoy this bland and homogeneous environment. They enjoy it because it is comfortable.

I could say that I know people like that. I might. Chances are, though, that I’m exaggerating. Not even the dullest, grinningest, doped-up-est upper-middle-class yahoos I went to college with approached Bitizen levels of cheerful blandess. Despite the evidence to the contrary, they at least believed that they mattered, and they occasionally did things to prove it.

If you informed a Bitizen that he didn’t matter, I think he’d accept that judgement with perfect equanimity.

4) …a place of fulfillment


There’s another aspect to the weird kind of cheerfulness that the Bitizens have. Everyone, as I mentioned, has their Dream Job. Some Bitizens will have a 9 in Services, and and a Dream Job in the Dentist’s Office. Some will have an 8 in Creative, and a Dream Job in the Cake Studio.

And some Bitizens will have a 9 in Food Service, and a Dream Job in the Sub Shop, where I will employ them and where they will work for the rest of their lives, living at the same quality as the doctors in the Optometrist or the high-flying designers in the Fashion Studio. They will be just as happy (green-smiley-face-happy, to be specific– as opposed to beige-neutral-face happy or red-sad-face happy) as these fancy people, and they will, apparently, make just as much money as they do.

Where I come from, it is very bad, socially, if your dream job is making subs in a Sub Shop. It is very bad if you get that job and stay in it happily for life. Chances are you would never be happy in that job, even if it fit your capacities perfectly, because unending criticism would be levelled at you for staying there. And you’d probably grow jealous, of course, of everyone who worked doing glamorous things in some not-Sub-Shop somewhere.

In Tiny Tower, when you’re happy, you’re happy. Nobody criticizes you. Nobody urges you to move upward. No job is any more challenging than any other. No job is any more stressful. No job is any more worthy.

When you’ve got a green smiley face, you’ve got a green smiley face. Nobody questions a green smiley face.


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5 Comments

  1. As someone also with a foot in the game industry, #4 hit home, due to relatives at generally beige-neutral-face happiness w/ my career choice. But it’s my green smiley face and to an extent they don’t question that too much.

    This is my favorite blog, so I’m glad to see you guys picked it back up and wish you the best in your post-school adventures!

    Reply
  2. lauramichet

     /  September 12, 2011

    Hey, thanks!

    My relatives are on the whole pretty supportive. In the past, however, I have had them lie to my grandmother about it under the assumption that she wouldn’t understand, which was fairly hurtful. I think they told her I was writing for magazines? But in the end they aren’t too judgmental, which was a relief.

    Reply
  3. Red-sad-face-happy is a fantastic term. Though red is an odd color for sadness… I guess their dissatisfaction also makes them angry? That’s happened to me before…

    Tiny Tower is TOO REAL.

    Reply
    • >.>I play this game entirely too much and have toltaly gone hardcore on such a casual game and strategized it to hell and back lol. It’s set up so perfectly that you can play it super casually or super hardcore and still have an enjoyable play experience for as long as you want, without ever having to spend actual cash on it if you don’t want to.Also, I love that the game, for as simple as it is, took time to actually make sure there were men and women in the game, as well as plenty of PoC (many, many different skin tones) and (as Jonathan pointed out) many have Hispanic names. Its impressive that a free-to-play game made by just two people is more inclusive than game studios with teams that have dozens of people on them and millions of dollars backing them up.

      Reply
  4. Chad henry

     /  November 6, 2011

    I have 151 floors and I can’t get anymore businesses or apartments please update so I can fill these floors I have 6 empty come on give me some more :) please

    Reply

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