The Authoritarian Control Of Labour In Tiny Tower

The Authoritarian Control Of Labour In Tiny Tower

While playing Tiny Tower, do you worry about your Bitizens’ happiness, or ignore them in favour of staffing your shops? Blogger Jorge Albor at examines the Marxist implications of doing well in Tiny Towers.

As Albor explains, playing Tiny Tower works, is not difficult, all it takes is a a little patience, but there’s something else that can help you excel – ruthless micro managing and a complete disregard for the humanity of your residents. These Bitizens each have happiness levels that relate directly to their dream jobs for which you can hire them, but making Bitizens happy has little positive effect on your success as the tower manager. As Albor points out in his article, “Tiny Tower is not a game about making people happy. It is a game about management.”

The full implications of this notion took time to sink in. His journey toward ruthless landlord started small; Albor moved one Bitizen named Ashley from her dream job in a photo shop to an un-staffed mini-golf course which would boost the low entertainment value of the tower. Neither Ashley, nor the photo shop, which had other employees keeping it open, were any worse off. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Jorge was pleased with his success, and moved on to evicting handfuls of Bitizens to make way for residents who would open a brand new bakery. Albor points out that the Marxist flavour of Tiny Tower’s economy may be a reflection of the good versus bad choices in other games. In some cases, good or bad is literally as easy as Jedi or Sith; in others, there are shades of grey. How easy is it for your Fable 3 hero to waffle between benevolent mayor and gluttonous sycophant?

That leads Albor to step back and talk about how some of that morality finds its way into the develop of a game as well. For instance, Tiny Tower uses Bitbook, the fictional bitizen version of Facebook to prod gamers into playing more.

“[Bitbook]exploits the pixelated characters’ charm to constantly remind (or guilt) the player to re-stock floors with statements like: ‘Closing up the barber shop, hope I don’t lost my job!'”

Is there a difference between what motivates you as a video game character, and what motivates you in real life, I wonder? Personally, when given the choice in a game, I will always chose the path of darkness. I find it’s more fun to run around blowing things up and kicking animals that don’t deserve it. Pushing around bitizens for personal gain doesn’t bother me much, though if I met these people in real life I would feel pretty terrible forcing them to give up their life dream for the sake of the economy. Why is there a disconnect between the way you live your real life and the way you lead a digital one? And more than that, should we be rewarded for leading self-important video game lives?

Tiny Towers doesn’t seem to reward altruism, allowing gameplay to go uninterrupted even if every single bitizen is dissatisfied. I’ve been playing for a couple days already, made no effort to make my residents happy, and yet people keep signing up to move in and my tower continues to reach the sky. Perhaps it’s my bad-guy video game persona, but the happiness of the bitizens doesn’t really concern me if it’s not going to help my own high score. Marx would be proud.

Tiny Tower Ethics via [Popmatters]


  • I’ve been playing TT for about a week now, and I can say that this is one of my problems, that and that no one questions the fact that I charge a toll for my elevator which gets higher as you need to go up. Or that or my residences are one the top floor so that if you move in …. you get the idea… It’s mindless.
    I would have liked to see the bitbook go a little further, like some responses. At the moment it is just a heaps of repeatedly spouted lines. Some good, some interesting that almost make guilty for for my actions, mostly repeated lines of fluff.

    Silly little ashley and her 12212 skill set, thought you could live in my apartments aye… Eeee-Victed. Authoritarian and a jerk, just paying the bitbills, these fancy apartments wont paint themselves lime green and fluro pink…

  • My tower is at nearly 25 floors, which will be a perfect balance of number of bitizens and filling every job currently in my tower. I was pondering a mad scheme to keep evicting people until I ended up with every resident in their dream job at a 9 skill level, so I get the max discount on restocks and double the amount, as well. It isn’t about happiness. Being in their dream job means I keep my shops open longer!

    In my case, I think it’s a mix of OCD and cruel slavedriver masked as benevolent landlord who gives everyone their desired profession. :p

  • my tower is 48 floors high and ive got 85 bitizens and im about to 2 more floors with my impressive 1.2 million coins and insta-lift 2000 se.
    i think that im doing pretty well,
    sorry for being so up myself but anywayz,
    seee ya:)

  • ill name all my shops,
    vegan food,dentist office, bowking alley,game studio, comic store, scoops,fortune teller,theatre,graphic design, software studio, hat shop, cake studio, casino,tea house,mapple store, plant nursery, pharmacy, frozen yogurt, coffee house, aquirium,music store,pottery studio, photo studio,bank,game store,fancy cuisine,mini golf,arcade,tutoring centre and a pizza place.
    the rest is apartments.

  • I am spooked!! Got to level 35 and a bitizen moved in with my initial and surname! I don’t have my name in my iPad so how did it know?
    The call is coming from inside the house!!! Lol

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