Some games you really love, and you can articulate exactly why. Other games grab hold of you and simply will not let go – and at the end of the day, you don’t really know whether you could articulate why you love it so much.
Tiny Tower, a free game for the iPhone and iPad, is that type of game. There’s not much to it – you build new floors on your towers, you make them into various businesses, services, or apartment buildings, and then you restock them with offerings so that you can make money. Once you’ve done that, you do it all again. The game never ends and it never really changes. It really is just a constant grind.
But what a delightful grind it is! In the manner of the dreaded Farmville, it is basically just a series of time-delayed clicks. The joy isn’t in the process, but the result. The “bitizens” that live in my tower are often hilarious to look at. There is a certain amount of joy to discovering that your next floor is going to be a video rental, a bike shop, or a “Mapple Store”. The joy gets even more pronounced when you’re able to place these bitizens into their “dream job”, where they will be categorically happy for the rest of their 8-bit lives.
These pleasures are constantly within reach, to the point where I will excitedly do mundane tasks, like stocking and restocking my tower’s various businesses and operating the elevator, just so that they may be brought on more quickly. The question the game forces you to ponder is a crucial one for both game playing and living: is this stuff really worth it?