Unexpectedly, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has quite the sense of humour. We first saw it come to light in the 2011 Census Twitter account (no, really), and now it’s back with – wait for it – a new game for iOS. Run That Town uses real census data to populate versions of real-world Australian locations, and invites you to step in as mayor.
The simple, turn-based gameplay is a twisted variation of SimCity, minimising the actual building elements and putting all the attention on your popularity ratings. Proposals are dropped on your virtual desk, and you can survey the population to find out if people really want a concert hall. A few taps gives you the most enthusiastically positive and negative responses, but the final choice is up to you. An unwise decision could see your rating plummet.
Your task is simple (and somewhat obvious): Manage a happy city and get your approval rating up as high as it can go. Fail at that, and your angry residents will literally throw you out of town.
The game is available via iTunes around the world, not just for Aussies, but for locals there is a certain sense of glee at finally building that shopping mall that never happened in your home town.
There’s a certain novelty factor at play as you interpret and manipulate real-world data, but even without all that, Run That Town is the sort of game that’ll make you miss your bus stop. Did we mention: It’s free!