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SD Brothers Win Award For iPhone Game

San Diego twins Ian and David Marsh have received Apples’ prestigious iPhone Game of the Year award for Tiny Tower, the 14th game produced by their company, Nimblebit.

Ian Marsh said the face of the iPhone inspired the idea for the new game, as the tower just seemed to fit the portrait of the phone perfectly. “Bitizens” live inside it with dream careers designed by the players.

Tiny Tower has been downloaded eight million times, making a total of 40 million downloads for all of their games.

One reason Apple likes the game so much is because it is free to play from start to finish. The profit comes in when approximately 5 percent of the players opt to buy “currency” to enhance their fun at $10 a pop.

Marsh said a lot of the credit for their success as design entrepreneurs goes to their former Web-development teacher at Serra High School, Joe Austin.

“Joe was really the first teacher to get us to think about what you really have to offer and how you could apply your own skills to succeeding for yourself,” said Ian Marsh.

Austin bought Ian Marsh his first software-programming book and also got him his first job: designing the school district website.

Austin said the Marsh brothers always stood out.

“They were really clear, all the time. In fact, the more complex it was, the more they seemed to enjoy learning about it. They were sort of out, blazing a trail,” Austin said.

The Marsh brothers, who have earned millions with their games, donated 30 iPads to City Heights’ Joyner Elementary School, where Austin is now principal.

Spurning several offers to buy their company, the brothers continue developing games in their new Solana Beach studio. The best test of a game -- if their mother enjoys it.

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