Angry Birds Nation

The Daddy and I got our iPhones just over a year ago. The negotiations over getting them went much like the TiVo Accords, only this time I was the one who made the move to seal the deal with a trip to the Apple Store.  “It’ll be so easy to check email,” I said to myself, “and I can get a few fun games for the kids to play.”

On my first day with it, I took it in to the office where my co-worker, a veteran iPhone user, helped me set up my email account. “What apps are you going to get?” he asked innocently. “Have you seen Angry Birds?”

And thus it began.

For those of you who have never seen nor heard of Angry Birds (Hi, Mom!), it’s a maddeningly addictive game created by a Finnish company called Rovio. In the game, evil green pigs have stolen eggs from a flock of birds. (According to Wikipedia, the game developers made the villains pigs because the original design process took place during the swine flu outbreak.) The birds are very angry at these pillaging pigs and you, the player, are charged with helping to get the eggs back.

The pigs jealously guard the eggs underneath structures made of various materials. The materials include wood, glass, ice, and stone. You launch the birds by slingshot at a section of the structure, and whether or not the bird breaks the structure and kills the pig(s) is decided by some kind of sophisticated algorithm that takes angle, force, and speed into account. Complicating matters is that each bird in your arsenal has a different skill or function. Red birds are boring – they go straight ahead at medium speed and will possibly break something if everything is perfect. The blue bird turns into three when you tap on the screen. The yellow bird accelerates when you tap. Black birds land and then explode like a bomb – they’re my favorite. The white birds (hate them) act like a boomerang. Etc.

The game is highly addictive (I keep saying that word) and trance-inducing. I’ll play for a while, put it down, and then think, “I could do better on that level,” and pick it up again. Any situation that involves waiting (doctor’s office, airport, grocery store lines) is now time in which I can potentially increase my score. But I’m not addicted. Nope! I prefer to say I’m loyally dedicated to learning. Current learning schedule:

6:00 pm: Waiting for water to boil. Playing Angry Birds.
6:10 pm: Waiting for spaghetti to cook. Playing Angry Birds.
6:40 pm: Quick round of Angry Birds before I clean up the kitchen.
7:30 pm: Kids’ bathtime. Benjamin prattling on about Transformers. Playing with kids, but plotting Angry Birds strategy in the back of my shriveled mind.
8:15 pm: Sitting in Ellie’s beanbag chair, waiting for her to fall asleep. Angry Birds.
11:00 pm: Can’t sleep…maybe just a few minutes of…

You get the picture.

It’s not always like this, thank heaven. The initial obsession has waned, and now I only go cuckoo when a new update or version is released. I’m not alone, though…over 12 million copies of Angry Birds have been purchased from the iTunes App Store. There’s a feature film in the works. I even read an article in a business publication not long ago outlining how Angry Birds can make you a better manager and leader. At first I thought, “Wha?” But the author made some compelling points.

So if you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, or Droid and you haven’t tried Angry Birds yet, you really should! Or maybe you value your spare time and you really shouldn’t. But if you do, just so you know, you’ll have a hard time catching up to me. I’m currently ranked number 2, 230,520 out of 12 million. Beat that, suckahs!

BEWARE THE EVIL EGG-THIEVING SWINE
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