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Text-based Life Simulator
|Genre(s)||Life simulation game|
BitLife: Life Simulator or simply called BitLife is a text-based video game released in 2018 by CandyWriter LLC. The objective of the game is to live a digital life without struggles and difficulties, depicted with cartoons and humorous scenarios. On the Google Play Store, it was ranked as the most popular game on the website and mobile app, as well as on the Apple App Store.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Development and updates
- 2.1 iOS vs Android versions
- 2.2 Notable iOS updates
- 2.3 Notable Android updates
- 2.4 Other notable updates
- 2.5 Purchase of InstLife
- 3 Online community
- 4 Reception
- 5 References
Upon creation of a new game, the character (you) has a randomized name, hair and the city and country in which the character lives in varies. The first thing the app displays is who the character's parents are, and their occupation, as well as your birthday, star sign, how you were conceived and if you have any siblings or pets. In some cases, your character may have been put up for adoption at birth. To add one year to your character's life, you press the "Age" button.
Stages of a life
Between ages 0 and 5, you are considered an "infant." Between ages 5 and 8, depending on the country you are playing in, you begin elementary or primary school. You then advance to the next level of schooling between ages 11 and 14, either "middle school" or "secondary school" depending on the country, and then (in some countries) to a final level of basic schooling by age 16. All-female characters will also have their menarche randomly between ages 10 and 15. At age 10, it becomes possible to find a date or be asked out on one. Upon reaching age 12, activities to raise the character's four bars (happiness, health, smarts, and looks) start becoming available. Then by age 14, the option to get part-time or freelance jobs becomes available.
During childhood, you are largely limited in activities to do. You may be able to ask your parents for money, depending on how generous or rich your parents are as shown by their "generosity" or "money" bar. Various pop-up scenarios may also appear depending on what age you are at. In your "infancy" for example, you may encounter scenarios involving your first words or being taken to get vaccinated. Once you reach school age meanwhile, scenarios involving activities with friends, your "first kiss," school dances, or other events may appear.
Between ages 15 and 19, depending on the country, you can take your driving test, which is simply a test asking what a road sign means, contrary to real life. If you pass, you may receive a car from your parents depending on their generosity. After you graduate from secondary school, you can decide whether to continue your education, take time off, acquire a full-time occupation, or enlist in the military.
At age 18, the option to buy a house becomes available, as do all remaining activities such as clubbing, vacationing, emigration, various crime options such as burglary, and gambling. As you age through adulthood, random pop up scenarios will appear as you age requiring decisions that can have major effects on your life. Such scenarios generally involve your career, your health, your spouse and/or children (if you have any), your friends, as well as potential random encounters such as a homeless person asking for money, being a witness to a crime, having to decide whether to risk your life to save another, among others.
After working for a certain number of years, the option to retire becomes available (the exact age of which varies by country). Many occupations will force you into retirement after a certain point, though in most full time occupations you will receive a pension after retiring.
If you live your life without many harming consequences, you will die of natural causes. Generally, if you keep your health bar close to or at 100%, you will most likely live beyond 100 years, contrary to real life where few people live for that long. At the end of each life you are assigned a ribbon, based on how you lived your life. For example; "Fertile" ribbons are assigned for having lots of children. Some ribbons are easy to get while others are far more difficult to obtain. Currently, there are a total of 30 ribbons.  All previous lives you lived are viewable via a "cemetery."
After you die, you have the option of starting a new life (either customized or random), replaying the same character again with the option to make different choices, or continuing a "legacy" as your character’s child. 
At the bottom of the screen when playing are four bars showing the happiness, health, smarts, and looks of one’s character between 0 and 100%. Each bar will randomly fluctuate each time the "age" button is pressed. Various activities can be performed to either raise or lower each of the bars, such as going to the gym to raise looks. The levels of a player‘s bars have major impacts on the lives of their characters. High smarts can allow one's character to receive a scholarship to university for example, while by contrast, low smarts can result in one's application to university being rejected altogether.
Certain occupations in the game (such as an acting job) can make one become "famous," at which point a fifth bar showing your level of "fame" is shown. If you fail to keep the fame bar above 0%, then the bar disappears and you are no longer "famous." There is also another major bar concerning the character's "karma," which fluctuates depending on the nature of actions you take for good or bad. While the bar is never seen as one of the main bars at the bottom of the screen during gameplay, it can still have an effect on your character's life, and it is shown on your character's gravestone after death.
A core component of the game is "relationships" with NPCs. These include your parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, children, grandchildren, lovers, and friends you make. With every one of these characters, your character has a "relationship bar" that fluctuates randomly as you "age" and can be raised (or lowered) by interacting with them. If a relationship bar drops too low, then the family member or friend in question may refuse to interact with you.
Your most important relationship is the one with your lover, with whom you may get married and/or have children. You may encounter potential lovers randomly as you play, in the "love" tab, at school, or in your workplace. In some cases, your parents may arrange for you to be married, especially if they have a high "religiousness" stat bar. After you date a lover for the first time, even if you break things off with them they will remain in your character's "ex" tab, allowing for the ability to get back together.
Any pets you have also have a relationship bar with you and are listed alongside other family members and friends of yours with unique interactions, tailored specifically to the type of animal the pet is.
There are several types of job occupations that a player may take up within the game. Most full-time jobs require a certain level of education, with some requiring you to attend a specialized school, such as a veterinary school for a veterinarian occupation. Other jobs may simply require a certain character stat to be at a high level, such as high looks to be a model. All full-time jobs also require an "interview" before you are hired, which is simply a random question you must answer. Alongside full-time jobs, there are also part-time jobs which a player may take up alongside a full-time occupation such as school, as well as "freelance" jobs that can be taken up at random for quick cash, like babysitting and lawn mowing.
Each job comes with a certain number of "hours" of work. The hours your character works can vary widely, depending on the country and whether the job is full or part-time. In total, it is possible to have a "schedule" of up to 70 hours a week in the game, though a high number of hours puts the player's character at risk of contracting high blood pressure and ultimately a heart attack.
The game has dozens of different countries for a player to play a life in. Depending on the country, certain activities such as gambling, same-sex marriage, or abortion may be legal or illegal. Cost of living, incomes, and life expectancy vary by country as well, as do tax rates, with some countries like Saudi Arabia having no taxes at all in-game. Playing in certain countries such as Afghanistan is also made more dangerous by a small chance that each time you hit the "age" button, you can be randomly killed in a sort of "terrorist" attack. Another notable difference is that when playing in South American countries, llamas will replace horses in the pet store.
Every country also comes with a handful of cities one can select to play in, such as Warsaw, Poland. In two cities (Miami and Tucson in the United States) in the game, which in real life are host to the headquarters of BitLife's developers, it is possible for your character to get a job working for Candywriter. 
Within the game, there are various minigames you may encounter when performing certain actions. In the casino, for example, there is a blackjack minigame you can bet money on. Another example involves the option to solve a puzzle that involves maneuvering around a guard to escape from prison, which changes in difficulty depending upon the security level of the prison the player's character is in. There is also a minigame based on the 1978 game Snake which one may play while in prison to start a riot. When serving in the military meanwhile, you can occasionally be sent to a random country on "deployment," in which case you must solve a Minesweeper-type minigame (regardless of the branch) without detonating a land mine.
Since August 2019, the game has featured collectible "heirloom" items, with the ability for a player to collect a new one once per day. Upon receiving an heirloom, it appears alongside a character's "assets," and you may have the options to refurbish it, play with it, sell or donate it. If you continue as a character's child after death, the heirloom is passed down to the child. Over time as you "age," the value of the heirloom will rise exponentially. A list of all heirlooms the player has collected is found in the main menu. It is possible to collect the same heirloom more than once.
Certain heirlooms are rarer than others, with the rarest ones being called "super rare." Notable rare heirlooms include the Holy Grail, a Route 66 gas pump, and Donald Trump's golden toilet. Generally the rarer an heirloom is, the more monetary value it has, though this is not always the case.
The game has periodically included various temporary features in recognition of certain events. On certain holidays for example, the game has made available temporary job occupations, such as an "elf" occupation in recognition of Christmas,  a "pilgrim" occupation in recognition of Thanksgiving where you were employed by the Plymouth Colony,  and a "leprechaun" occupation in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day.  Besides temporary job occupations, the game has also seen the addition of other features for holidays such as various pop-up scenarios, one notable example being the ability to attempt to "kiss" your cousin under the mistletoe, which was added during the 2019 Christmas season and required you to hit a confirm button multiple times. 
Alongside temporary holiday-themed features, since July 2019, the game has also featured pop up scenarios relating to "current" events. Notable ones have included an option for your character to pick a side in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, and an option to decide whether or not to join in on the Facebook event to storm Area 51.
Although the game is free to download on both the App Store and Google Play, in order to access certain features and remove advertisements, the game has the option to purchase "Bitizenship" for real world money. Upon doing so, you become a "Bitizen," a title displayed by a badge in the upper right corner of the screen when playing. This is currently a one-time purchase worldwide, although the developers of the game have experimented in select countries with making it a subscription-based purchase in the past. Such experiments were indefinitely terminated after it became widely known to players online that they were taking place at all.
Development and updates
The game was originally released in September of 2018 for iOS only, later being released on Android the following February. Since inception, the game has been updated many times to include large swaths of new features including siblings, pets, rekindling of broken relationships, more available countries such as Switzerland and Vietnam, new ribbons, and the option to continue on as a character’s children after your character dies, among hordes of other smaller features.
Updates adding new content are typically released every couple of weeks. Often, much of the new content added is suggested to the developers by users online. The game is owned and developed by Candywriter, LLC, which is based in Miami, Florida. 
iOS vs Android versions
As the iOS version of the game was released months prior the Android version and the developers of the game are native to iOS when it comes to programming, the Android version currently lacks numerous features of iOS, such as the ability to make friends or to save multiple lives at the same time in separate game slots. Despite the differences, iOS and Android typically receive updates at the same frequency, and as a result most new features are typically added to iOS first, and then Android later on, though some features have not been added to Android in the same order as they were for iOS.
Notable iOS updates
Character emoji updates
When the game was originally released, it lacked any visual representation of your character, showing only the flag of the country you lived in where it now displays your character's emoji. The original version of character emojis added was modeled off of the real emoji skin colours set, which resulted in "yellow" skinned models being controversially used to represent players' characters of East Asian background. Another update concerning character icons was released later on in May of 2019 for iOS (September on Android), which added red-haired characters and hijabs for female characters in Muslim countries, while also removing the "yellow" skinned models.
A major update adding in the ability to become "famous" from certain careers along with various fame activities was released for iOS on April 26, 2019.  Having been released in the wake of the college admissions scandal that had become widely publicized in the previous month, one notable new feature was the ability for your character (when "famous") to bribe college admissions officers to get your child into university. The update also dramatically raised the cap on money your character could earn, which had previously been limited to only $2,147,483,647 by the 32-bit integer limit. By upgrading to a 64-bit limit, which has a maximum value of over 9 quintillions, the update effectively removed the limit on the amount of money your character could realistically make.
Prison life update
On August 8, 2019, a major update that completely overhauled and expanded the prison aspect of the game was released to iOS users, adding the ability to join a prison gang, take on a prison job, among other features, such as the addition of "minimum" and "maximum" security prisons in place of previously having all prisons be the same security level. Capital punishment as well as life sentences were also added, ending a previous running gag of players simply being able to rake up an endless number of years in a sentence that could last well beyond an actual lifetime. While the update was generally well-received, sharp criticism ensued over a feature that allowed players to "have their way" with fellow inmates in the game. The feature was later removed in a patch released days later.
As each fellow inmate in the game (who were viewable via the new "prison yard" feature) when you went to prison each displayed what they were "in for" on their profile, a lighthearted joke was added by the developers of the update where some inmates were in for "complaining about BitLife Android," which drew some criticism from Android players who saw screenshots of the feature online. This feature was also later removed.
School life update
On September 29, 2019, in celebration of the game's one year anniversary since launch, a major update adding in a host of new activities relating to school was released for iOS.   New content included the ability to interact with classmates and teachers, join clubs and sports, a popularity meter and various "cliques," fraternities and sororities at universities, a revamp of the different levels of schooling with respect to country, among many other features. The update also included new college professor and college dean occupations, and (notably) a new feature allowing your character (when a university student) to "seduce" and possibly "hook up" with college professors and the dean. 
The update was generally received well by players. One major bug that was reported within hours of launch involved a player's character being permanently stuck in "middle school" once enrolled, which also allowed for one to date classmates as young as age 10 despite being an adult.  A patch was released several days after the initial update to correct this.
Notable Android updates
A series of three updates dubbed "ketchup" updates by the developers began to be released in late September of 2019 for the Android version of the game, following the hire of a new Android engineer in order to speed up the process of bringing iOS content over.  The first of these updates (released in September) included the addition of achievements, various pop up scenarios, and numerous other little features; and was generally received well by players, though it soon became notorious for the number of bugs it carried, including one in particular that became widely shared on social media (especially Reddit) where players could live for an infinite number of years without ever dying of old age.  After a total of three patches were released over several days, the "aging vampire" bug, as it was dubbed, was finally removed. 
A second "ketchup" update was later released in the middle of October, adding in military deployments, heirlooms, part-time jobs, and many other new features.  The third "ketchup" update (not including the 2019 Halloween update) was released in the middle of November, which introduced the school life update, the 8 new countries from the iOS version of the Halloween update, among many other smaller features as well as stability improvements in preparation for the "generations" update. 
On December 20, 2019, the ability to continue on as your character's child after the death of your character, widely dubbed "generations" mode, was released for Android.  While this was generally a welcome addition for Android users, who had been waiting for nearly eight months since the previous April when the feature was released for iOS, criticism soon ensued over a major bug that resulted in the random deletion of players' saved games after closing the app for a certain period of time. A patch was later released on January 8, 2020 as a means to fix this. 
Other notable updates
2019 Halloween update
During the week of Halloween in 2019, a major update was released adding in numerous seasonly themed items, such as "haunted" houses containing various supernatural beings like "ghosts" and "demons,"  as well as an option for your character to "dress up" for Halloween, which upon doing so changed your character's emoji to whatever costume you picked until the character reached the age of 8. Other features included a large number of pop-up scenarios, including random encounters with supernatural beings who could induce various health problems or outright death for your character. On the day of Halloween itself meanwhile, job occupations as a "zombie," a "witch," and a "vampire" were available for 24 hours.  
Unlike prior major updates, this update was the first to be released for Android prior to iOS  (the two releases were around one day apart ). This was also the first major update to be specifically centered on a holiday. Alongside the Halloween themed features, the update also added eight new playable countries to the iOS version, including Hong Kong;  while for the Android version it added the "time machine" feature,  which allows players to de-age a character by anywhere from 1 to 20 years for a flat fee of $0.99.
The developers of the game have stated that the "haunted" houses are a permanent addition, as are all non-Halloween themed items from the update. 
Purchase of InstLife
On June 17, 2019, it was announced by the developers of the game  that BitLife had acquired another life simulator game named InstLife by InstCoffee (its main competitor at the time), and that content from the latter was to be merged into the former over the following months. The acquisition provoked polarizing reactions online, with many praising the merger and the new content it would ultimately bring to BitLife, while others (especially longtime InstLife users) sharply criticized it and accused Candywriter of trying to "eliminate competition."
Since the release of the game, the developers of BitLife have operated accounts on a handful of social media platforms, namely Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. In the game, each account is linked to players via the "BitLife Community..." tab. The developers frequently engage with players of the game on their various accounts, often taking and implementing suggestions from users in comments of their posts into the game.
Android "Beta-zin" program
Since the release of the Android version of the game, the developers of the game have run a Google Group called BitLife Beta  where registered members of the group can receive updates for the Android version ahead of their full release to all players. The group is used by the developers as a means of testing updates for bugs, with the expectation that members who receive and play the not yet released updates report any bugs they encounter to the developers so they can be eliminated prior to being released to everyone. Members of the group are referred to by the developers as "Beta-zins," and can receive "Bitizenship" for free. 
Overall, the game has received positive ratings. In November of 2018, the game was the #1 overall app in the App Store on iOS in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.  The game currently maintains (as of January, 2020) a 4.8/5 rating on the iOS App Store from over 800,000 reviews, and holds a 4.4/5 rating on the Google Play Store from over 400,000 reviews. Common praises of the game are often of its wide variety of content and addictive nature. Common criticisms meanwhile are generally directed at its heavy usage of ads and the inferior level of features on Android compared to iOS.
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