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Work Culture

SimTower Taught Me Fundamental Truths About Office Life

This sounds crazy, but a lot of what I learned about work culture and marketing strategy came from playing SimTower as a child.

I will never forget the wrath of my SimTower tenants when I created hastily placed elevators with no schedule. You want to piss people off? Make an elevator that follows no rhyme or reason during rush hour.

Until I recently revisited SimTower on Wikipedia (rabbit hole!) I didn’t realize elevator management was actually a key component of the game:

SimTower, which was built around an elevator simulation program, places a strong emphasis on good elevator management.

Wikipedia

I was a kid – I didn’t understand the concept of rush hour, but I quickly learned to understand the complexity of society. Playing the game planted that seed that everything in an office is connected in a careful, deliberate manner.

Every department in a company can easily fall into a silo, and often one of the most surprising schisms is between sales and marketing. Only at one company (one!) have I joined a marketing team that frequently talked to sales.

I had a manager a couple years ago who literally forbade me from talking to sales. He said “they’ll figure it out” and it was a “waste of time” talking to them. Well, as a web manager I need to talk to sales! How else do I know if I’m sending over good leads (among many other things)?

This manager was eventually fired and it turned out, no, we were not sending over quality leads. Only when we were able to work closely with sales were we able to give them what they needed.

In the ten years of my career I’ve reminded myself to keep in good contact with Sims from every department, and I think this has served me well.

Shifting gears here, I read a piece in the Times this week about the future state of elevators in busy office buildings in the era of COVID-19 and beyond. The challenge is getting all of those people up in a non-petri dish way.

SimTower never had a simulation for a pandemic, however, they threw enough disasters our way to prepare us for anything. As Carrie Bradshaw would say, “I couldn’t help but wonder” when I read this article what a SimTower of 2020 would look like.

Would there be a SimZoom expansion pack, complete with Sims who can “see you but can’t hear you” or Sims who join the meeting a week late?

One can only hope.

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