Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Angry Birds make Happy People

Let’s face it, nobody’s happy when one steals our young ones away from us, especially when it happens to be a bunch of globular green coloured pigs who chuckle at the our remorse. And how do we reclaim the eggs? Get that catapult ready, I say.
That’s the back story of ‘Angry Birds’, the latest gaming phenomenon created by Finnish game developer company, Rovio which has grown to become a household name amongst Apple iOS users, where it includes of a flock of fat birds, with rounded yellow beaks, thick, black eyebrows and a angry, slightly crazed expression on their faces who are on a quest to save their babies by using your help to destroy the sniggering swine.
The game has been downloaded 50 million times all over the world from the online Apple i-store with patrons like British PM David Cameron and Dick Cheney admitting to possess a mild addiction to the game, amongst thousand others, of course.
In total, the game notches up 200 million minutes of play time every day, which is close to the number of minutes viewers in the United States spend watching the average prime-time television programme. The massive popularity has also turned Rovio into a company reportedly worth 1$ billion dollars.
The company has taken retail merchandising to the next level, from mothers baking Angry Bird cupcakes during Birthdays, to stuff dolls of the six different birds, key-chains, mobile phone covers. Mattel is coming up with it’s own version of a board game, a cartoon series and if all goes well, a film. One restaurant chain in Hong Kong have even struck a deal with its creator to turn the featherless bird into mooncakes -- a pastry eaten to mark the Chinese mid-autumn festival, which fell on September 12th this year.
So who’s behind the distressed birds?
Self-confessed video game junkie and Finnish game designer, Jaakko Lisalso was left home-alone one night two years ago. With nothing constructive to do, he sat on his couch thinking to himself if he’ll still have his job a few months from now, as his employer, Rovio was short of funds and the company came to a point where they were forced to draw a make-or break business plan.
That’s when Lisalso started scribbling down vague sketches of rotund birds and presented to to his boss the next morning. The idea was simple and very kiddish, but his collegues just found something utterly adorable about the concept and just couldn’t say no to the fuzzy creatures. And before you know it, the application turned out to be the most profitable of all the 300, 000 Apple apps at the I-store.
AYTM, an American-based research company conducted studies to learn more about the Angry Birds addiction phenomenon and have found that 82% of the respondents claim to feel a dire addiction to the game and have deleted the application numerous times only to find themselves re-installing it back in a few days again. So what makes the game do darn’ addictive?
Firstly, it’s got to do with simplicity and it’s complexity. The idea is simple, yeah. You use no controls, just your finger and a slingshot. But there’s more to it.
Angry Birds takes into account different concepts of Physics like gravity, mass, velocity and trajectories. Certain trajectories work better than others and different birds need to be drafted in depending on the material to destroy.
Psychologist Michael Chrost who works at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Maryland explains that Angry Birds actually elicits a neurophysilogical response in players. He refers to Angry Birds as a “masterpiece of addictiveness” because it’s “simple, realistic, rewarding, and funny, but it’s also a terrific manipulator of the brain’s dopamine system.”
Owing to the mania around the game, the designers at Rovio are under even more pressure to keep improvising it in order to keep the game on top its charts. Since launching the game with 63 levels in December 2009, Rovio has added another 147, at the rate of about 15 every three or four weeks. It’s hard work, no doubt.
In the meantime, Google has arrived at the conclusion that in the last two years Angry Birds have had more hits than even the world’s most lovable cartoon- Mickey Mouse.

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