Start a sorority in Tap Campus Life

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By Pete Davison Comments

Tap Campus Life is a new mobile game from Pocket Gems. It’s a free-to-play game, and made its debut as the No.9 top free iPhone app at the start of this week. The game is available now from the App Store.

Tap Campus Life casts players in the role of a custom-designed female avatar attempting to start her own sorority. Beginning with a tiny, empty room with no furniture, it’s up to the player to recruit new girls, purchase new items to entertain them and build a better sorority than the game’s “villain” Prissie.

The game unfolds in a similar manner to many other free-to-play games of this type — “quests” walk the player through “suggested” activities, pointing out exactly what buttons to press with large bobbing arrows, and the player makes most progress by following this linear path of tasks rather than taking advantage of the illusion of “freedom.” Income is generated by the girls present in the sorority at regular intervals (though exactly where this money is coming from is seemingly left up to the player’s imagination) and this may be spent on new items for the house. In order to attract new girls, various “events” must be completed, each of which have prerequisite items or costumes that must be purchased before it can be begun. Some “premium” girls with more distinctive appearances (such as a “punk rocker” character) cost hard currency to unlock before they may be attracted.

Upon triggering an event, a real-time countdown begins. This may be bypassed by expending hard currency, a small (and easily-spent) quantity of which is provided to the player at the beginning of the game. Once the countdown has expired or been bypassed, the event begins. Most events require the player to look out for on-screen symbols to tap on and trigger various animations — for example, a “workout” event sees the player triggering yoga poses and stretches around the room. Each event has an “energy bar” that is partially depleted with every action taken, and when this has been emptied the event is over, hopefully with the object of the player’s affections feeling more inclined to join the sorority than before.

Once a prospective new member’s prerequisite events have been completed, the player may attempt to recruit them. Once again, there is a real-time (and bypassable) countdown before this action actually begins, at which point the player must pick from several on-screen conversational topics, represented by icons, in order to build the new girl’s affection bar to the maximum. If the player is successful in attracting the girl, she joins the sorority; if they fail, they must try again later.

Tap Campus Life’s gameplay is a little different from other similar mobile and social games of its type, making it mildly worthy of note, but what is somewhat less admirable is its depiction of women as skinny, image-obsessed, airheaded wannabe “socialites.” The fact that it quite literally objectifies several of the characters by requiring premium currency to unlock them only adds to the game’s rather sexist feel overall. The “airheaded sorority girl” is an established trope in popular media, but in movies and TV shows, characters of this type are usually depicted in an exaggerated, over-the-top manner and played for laughs — in the case of this game, however, it’s never quite clear if the developers are expecting the player to take these characters “seriously” or not.

Ultimately, Tap Campus Life is another addition to the ever-growing category of freemium mobile games that offer relatively little in the way of depth, but can provide mildly amusing diversions. It’s not a terrible game, but neither is it particularly interesting, either. It will likely enjoy a short period of success, but in the long-term its likely to be replaced by another, very similar game.

Tap Campus Life is currently ranked at No. 9 in Top Free Apps, No. 13 in Top Grossing Apps, No. 5 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 21 in Top Grossing iPad Apps, No. 5 in Top Free Games and No. 3 in Top Free iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.