Belittle Computer People: Smile

Smile is a morose game. It’s The Sims stripped back until you can see the white of its skull, a few beads of blood spoiling the perfection of bone like the piss-burned holes in a field of fresh snow. Your little computer person has needs, just as a Sim or an actual human does, and the entire purpose of life is to ensure that those needs are fulfilled. In Smile, this means that every day is a struggle to survive, as cooking a meal takes valuable time that could have been used playing a game, which would have been fine if you’d been able to have a shower at the same time. Smile is free (donations accepted through itch.io) and was created during the Ruin Jam.

The obvious joke, of course, is that Smile’s barebones approach to the life sim is cut from the same cloth as The Sims 4. Less of the same. If it is more than a joke, however, then it seems to be a representation of life as a challenge, the daily slog of spinning plates lest the whole structure of self collapses like a bone china skeleton. We’re back to that gleaming skull again.

Perhaps there’s a slightly more suitable analogy given the consumerist nature of Sims and their race to not only keep up with the Joneses but to run the Joneses off the road and set fire to their aspirations. Smile is life presented as busywork, with all the joys of social interaction, good food and a relaxing night’s sleep extracted. The only thing remaining is a collection of bars to balance and of demands to be met.

Smile is a grim little toy and its punchline leaves a bruise.

10 Comments

  1. Didden says:

    Little Computer People? : link to youtube.com

    • Safari Ken says:

      I loved that game when I was a kid, and the headline’s reference to it is the main reason I clicked on this article.

      • Didden says:

        Likewise. I liked the fact your tape had a different little person on it than others. Mine was pretty good on the piano, but would bugger off in the attic and hide for quite a while. Grumpy bugger.

        • Kefren says:

          I had it on Amiga as well, but think the C64 version kept me spellbound the longest. I would just leave it on while I was in the room, and look up if George tapped on the screen.

          I assumed the room he hid in was his wanking room.

  2. TechnicalBen says:

    The only way to win is to be content…

  3. Strangeblades says:

    I actually don’t want to play this Smile game because it succeeds with me. I don’t want to feel morose. I’m having a good time right now. So, I guess, the developer has achieved success?

  4. t3hsquirr3l says:

    It took me ten minutes to figure out how to keep all of the bars nearly completely maxed constantly, and then it stopped being interesting. The secret to endless happiness is sleeping, eating snacks, and chatting online. :P

  5. DXN says:

    Damn but I love Ruin Jam. :D

  6. Gog Magog says:

    Yes, yes, abandon all hope ye who enter here should be tattooed inside every birth canal and what do you know of the darkness of god’s plan or how flesh is so frail it is hardly more than a dream.

    … still gotta admit I love the idea behind the Ruin Jam. It’s just funny :)