BitLife has been around since 2018 and is described as a life simulation game. Updates and new inclusions are regularly added, and an Android version was released this year.
The objective is to essentially live a digital life from birth to death, acquiring education, relationships and jobs along the way. Like real life ,there are both good and bad choices along the way. Your character lives and dies as a result of the choice made by the user.
There are stages representing infancy, primary school, high school, and on to undertaking university courses and gaining employment. Bit-money is earned, houses and cars can be bought, and a player may even follow a life choice to become famous. There is a lot of detail put into the choices that lead from various paths, and mini-games within your bit-life ( e.g. playing black jack for bit-money ).
With an adult life, comes adult considerations and here is where the content of the game may be too much for some and is definitely NOT for children.
Decisions to make are very mature at times ranging from choices around sex (one-night stands, group sex), murder or assault, prostitution, and drug taking are all on offer. There is the option to choose not to have protected sexual intercourse and suffer the possible consequences of that action. Or the player might get sent to prison and join a gang, or train to be a prison guard etc.
Ratings are inconsistent across platforms:
The Apple store offers a 17+ rating
The Google play store 15+
Common Sense Media throws in a 14+, so for parents it is hard to know where to draw the line, when advice is so conflicting.
Safe on Social suggests that it is absolutely not one for anyone under 15+, as some of the choices offered made are emotionally and conceptually beyond those below this age group. There is a strongly humorous, tough in cheek approach with this app, the nuances of which will be missed by younger teens and children.
Once a character dies, you are able to restart and live your “life” again – endlessly. There is scope within the topics raised in BitLife to open discussions with your teen about appropriate actions to take in circumstances presented via text in the game.
There are several alternate versions of BitLife available in the app stores , the majority of these being free, and of the names listed below, all are similar in their general approach to BitLife. Some options and life styles offered within the apps may vary, but at the core they are the same thing, and cover similar mature life choices.
- Life Simulator
- Your Life Simulator
- Life Simulator 2018
One that is not appropriate at all, is the charmingly named Hobo Simulator.
This is offensive due to the name, as the app offers experiences such as eat from the trash, fight individuals, rob banks……offering the user a chance to play at life of the streets – which is just nasty, and disrespectful of the homeless, but of course given time – you might become a CEO.
This app has been around for a while and contains features such as conserving beer to use when your happiness levels fall low, taking strange pills you might find, getting onto disability benefits, or welfare, Vodka boosts your popularity and the character may die from starvation within 7 days quite easily if you don’t give the game enough attention.
This one is not for children or anyone with a modicum of empathy. It is also more difficult to play and requires more time spent on it to drop the hunger score of the character, and build up happiness, so can be quite addictive.
BitLife is considered to be entertaining, addictive and only appropriate for older teens given the range of mature content, bombardment with advertising, and the subtle humour. Life simulation apps are popular and they can be fun but the age ratings hover around 15+ for most of them, and given the subjects addressed this is a more appropriate age than for children in Primary School.