Thomasina Johnson, Editorial Editor

While traveling this summer, I started my torrid love affair with Angry Birds. For those of you not familiar with this game for iPhones, iPads, Google Chrome and Android platforms, the object is very simple: shoot different kinds of birds with a slingshot to kill green pigs. The birds are angry because these pigs stole their eggs. It sounds crazy, but Rovio, the design company of the game, estimates that fans of Angry Birds play the game for over 1 million hours every day on iPhones alone, according to developer Ville Heijari. Board game giant Mattel even released a real-life version of the game in May.

It’s no coincidence Angry Birds is so popular. It’s simple, fun and requires some skill if you want to successfully kill those thieving pigs. But also, some of its most basic concepts can be applied to the game of life if you stretch your imagination.

-You can’t do the job alone. Most levels of Angry Birds feature a variety of birds needed to kill the green swine and win the game. Each type of bird has its own special skill to do certain things. Like people, a successful bird team is made up of different talents.

-Failure only makes you want to win more. If you don’t succeed in killing all the pigs with your birds, the laughing of the pigs signals the end of the game. The laugh is so annoying — it’s halfway between a snort and a sarcastic laugh — that all you want to do is prove the pigs wrong.

-If you want something, you can get it, but be prepared to really work for it. The birds want the eggs back, but how many levels are there in Angry Birds? Yeah, it takes a while.

-There isn’t just one right answer. Each level of Angry Birds has millions of different combinations that can succeed in killing the pigs. Patience, planning and physics are key for winning the game. Being lucky doesn’t hurt either.

-If at first you don’t succeed… Being stuck on a level is not fun, but by asking for help from others (or Youtube) or looking at the problem with new eyes, you will win.

It’s not surprising that Angry Birds can be applied to life.According to a 2003 video game study by researchers from the U.S. and Germany, the real attraction of games (like Angry Birds) comes from the goal of solving problems in order to win. If a game “allows for a continuous stream of challenging and competitive situations that have to be resolved by the players,” humans will become absorbed by the game. Similar to studying for finals, right? And who ever thought Angry Birds and all-nighters had something in common?

http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=958735

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