Yes, I'm going do it. I am going to write about Angry Birds. It seems absurd only because it is so poplar and must have been discussed so many times before. The simple game has already sold 6.5 million copies and hopes to sell 100 million total--that's only the legal downloads on the iPhone, and the game's producers didn't even advertise!
Angry Birds: Need Tweezers.
If you've never played before, the game has a simple plotline in which birds (who are angry) are catapulted at pigs. The birds are apparently angry because the pigs stole their eggs. So they suicide-bomb the pigs and the fragile structures the pigs hide in. A little morbid... and quite anti-pig... but it's carried out well. And in any case, the plot isn't too important to the actual game--players can skip it--but it is a cute addition.
What is important about Angry Birds is that it demonstrates the direction games are heading. While a hardcore gamer may continue to buy expensive consoles and games that costs upwards of $20, the casual and cheap nature of this game appeals to incredibly wide audiences. This game costs less than $5 for the iPad, and only $.99 for the iPhone. The game play is incredibly simple: pull a slingshot back and aim, using only one finger. There are many levels that gradually increase in difficulty, introducing new types of birds occasionally, and each level gets a score out of three stars. The graphics and sound effects are aesthetically and aurally pleasing but minimal. It's also interesting to note that there is no tutorial, leaderboard or multiplayer. Its simple features and streamlined gameplay are what make it universally appealing.
XKCD: "The Most Powerful Gaming Systems in the World Still Can't Match the Addictiveness of Tiny In-Browser Flash Games."
Angry Birds is not unique in storyline or game type. Revenge and/or cute animals is a common theme is many games. "Destroy the Castle" games are numerous and easy to find. There are free games with similar one-touch gameplay, better graphics, better plots, cuter animals and even better use of physics. So what makes Angry Birds so popular?
Because Angry Birds is portable, it's easy to play anywhere. Each level is repeatable and easy to pick up, so it can be played during 5-minute work breaks, or even 3-hour long train riders for those of us who are a little more addicted. It's not inherently social because there's no multiplayer, but its ubiquity and popularity makes it possible for people to discuss it and even get help on how to beat difficult levels. And, perhaps most importantly, it capitalizes on the iPhone and smart phone craze. However, it's not the only game that could have become so popular, and such games are not limited to those who can afford expensive smart phones. So when I say that Angry Birds-esque games are the future of casual gaming, it's a good thing.
I want to leave you with the video that inspired this post and its title:
A Parody of Adele and Angry Birds
Also, I hope all the links keep you busy for many, many long hours of procrastination. You're welcome.