The Thrill of BitLife, and The Many Lives I’ve Lived

Many of us have a game that we just can’t put down. Animal Crossing. Bloodborne. Fortnite. We get sucked in, and it’s really hard to pull back. This happened to me in my preteen-teen years with The Sims 2, and it’s happening again with BitLife, a new text-based life simulator for Android and iOS.

I first stumbled across BitLife through YouTube playthroughs, and watched as Kubz Scouts played through scenario after scenario, each one as hilarious as the last. As a whole, BitLife has gained a ton of interest from YouTube gamers. Countless challenge videos have been uploaded to the site. One such as “who can have the worst life” or the “100 baby challenge.”

The fun in BitLife comes from the fact that many things such as personality traits and events are randomized. But there are certain aspects that can influence the outcome of a situation. For example, if you’re more intelligent, the chances of you getting a scholarship to university increase dramatically. Similar to The Sims, you have “need” bars that you must maintain, but the difference is that BitLife has four needs, whereas The Sims has six. You need to focus on maintaining your looks, health, smarts (intellect), and happiness in order to stay alive as long as possible, as well as work towards your goals and maintain healthy relationships.

Congratulations, you dropped out of school. Now what’s your plan?

You can choose to live your life in a variety of different ways. You get to determine your sexuality. You can map out your career path. Want to join the military? You can do that. Not smart enough to go to university? Work your way up through community college. Stay healthy by meditating, going to the gym or treating your illnesses at the doctor’s office. You can emigrate to different countries and travel to exotic places. You can date, or just have a series of casual hookups. Want plastic surgery? Sure thing! You can have anything from a liposuction to gender confirmation surgery.

For example, when you’re in your elementary school years, you may get into a fight with a bully. The injuries they give you are randomly generated. A bully might “puncture your lips,” which gives the player some odd imagery. Later on in life, your events get more interesting. On your one night stands, you can read the interesting interactions afterwards.

“You had a one night stand with Allison Thiel,” one of my results read. “She told you that you can call her mommy.” Yikes. 

An example of one randomly generated outcome from a fight.

The lure of many life-sim games is the ability to choose between pursuing sadism and success. With the original Sims games, it was deciding between burning down houses or meeting as many your Sim’s aspirations as possible. BitLife challenges have a little more flair to them. Sometimes, you challenge yourself to earn an enormous amount of money and work your way up the corporate ladder. Other times, you choose a darker path. How many drugs can you take before you develop an addiction? How many times can you escape prison? Can you have a baby with a different father each year you’re fertile? Can you get away with murder?

When it comes to The Sims, you have to add multiple mods in order to get that kind of drama. BitLife just is drama. Fun, addictive drama. You’re never going to play the same game twice, and the stakes are different each time.

In one life, I was Yasmin, an Ethiopian dog groomer with two kids. She had a knack for pickpocketing and was sentenced to 50 years in prison at the age of 20 for murdering her mother. At 25, she escaped from prison. For the next two years she worked as a bartender so she could pay her way through rehab for a heroin addiction. But once again, she was caught and sent back to jail for the rest of her (short) life. 

In another life, I was financial analyst and business bigwig Blake Walker, a Canadian and single dad with three daughters. I adopted two more children, and eventually got married. In the later years of my life, I struggled with an alcohol addiction and the deaths of two of my daughters, who were under the age of 50. 

While boring, it’s a life well lived.

Probably the favorite life that I have lived is that of Eliana Medina, a Mexican woman, millionaire porn director and devoted mother to four adopted children. Eliana had a rough start to her life – she was bullied for being overweight and unattractive. She couldn’t afford to go to school, so she worked in construction to support herself. When she was 21, her father died. But in a rags-to-riches spin, she got a job as a photographer, then as a videographer in the porn industry, working her way up the corporate ladder. Her funeral was attended by her two loving daughters, and she had a net worth of $38 million. Eliana, in my opinion, was a total boss. 

I have “lived” so many lives, each with their unique triumphs and tragedies. I’ve been a lawyer, and I’ve been an exotic dancer. I’ve been divorced twice, and I’ve had 77 lovers. I have struggled to conceive a child, and I’ve had 18 children. I once lived to be 120 years old, and in another life, I died of cancer at 8. Even if I play similar choices each time, I end up with a different outcome, and that’s what makes it fun.  In conclusion, someone needs to take my phone away from me, and you can get BitLife from Google Play and the Apple store for free now.

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