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My name is Dave Parrack, I’m a 34-year-old freelance writer from England, and I have a problem. I’m addicted to playing Angry Birds. Being hooked on catapulting feathered weapons of mass destruction into smug pigs may not be as bad as addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, or hard drugs, but it’s an addiction nonetheless.
I’ve admitted I have a problem. Which is the first sign on the road to recovery, or so they say. But I’d still like to get to the heart of the issue and know how and why I’m addicted to such a stupid little game. I think I’ve figured it out, determining the five biggest reasons why Angry Birds is so damn addictive. Whether this knowledge will help me, and possibly you too, to kick the habit remains to be seen.
Angry Birds is as simple as simple gets. The basic concept is so easy that everyone, no matter what their age or mental faculty, can understand it. There isn’t even a need for words, taking language barriers out of the equation. A couple of frames sets the tone for the chapter and off you go. You control the slingshot, and you’re using birds to destroy pigs in order to retake the birds’ eggs. Simple.
Why is simplicity addictive? Because your brain equates simplicity with ease. That means you know you should be able to beat the game. There is no real skill involved, just using angles of attack and working out where each variety of bird should be deployed. This harkens back to gameplay of old. Think Frogger, Pacman, Tetris, Space Invaders. All of which were also highly addictive.
There is a fine line between success and failure in Angry Birds. The difference between destroying all the pigs and scenery with the first bird, and leaving everything intact after three birds is a matter of adjusting the angles ever so slightly. Or even using the same angles but deploying a bird’s special ability at precisely the right moment.
Why is success/failure addictive? Because it keeps you playing, quite simply. Get it wrong once and you immediately want to try again, just tweaking the angle or point of delivery by a tiny increment in order to affect the outcome. And you’ll keep trying until you succeed, and move on to the next level.
There is a clear and obvious line of progression in Angry Birds. The levels are small, and you always feel that you’re making progress. After each level you’re immediately taken to the next, and you never want to stop playing. At least not until you get well and truly stuck. Even when you beat all the levels, an insatiable thirst builds for beating your best score and getting a three star rating.
Why is progress addictive? Because you’re always working your way towards a conclusion. With modern video games it’s often hard to see any progress being made; the levels are long, and the markers are few and far between. Angry Birds rejects that concept completely and returns us to a time when games comprised of dozens of separate levels.
I hate to admit it but there is a certain level of satisfaction felt in playing Angry Birds. Launching a bird into a wall and seeing the death and destruction rain down as a result is compelling. Getting it just right and seeing the whole level implode in one hit often elicits a smile or even a laugh. Which is more than usually happens when I’m playing the latest Call of Duty. Possibly because I’m crap at Call of Duty.
Why is satisfaction addictive? Because it makes you happy, releasing endorphins into the system. It’s really no wonder you want, or even need, to keep on playing and keep those feelings rolling in. The more you play the more you laugh, the more you laugh, the more you feel a rush, the more of a rush you feel, the more you want to keep on playing!
I’m now playing Angry Birds on Facebook, which has rapidly become my favorite way of playing it. I’m pretty choosy who I befriend on Facebook, and for that reason it’s only people I really want to talk to who make the cut. Who have I been battling on Angry Birds over the last two weeks? My boss at MakeUseOf, and my girlfriend. And they’re both kicking my butt. Even with me utilizing these hints and tips.
Why is competition addictive? Because no one wants to be beaten, no matter how uncompetitive and non-combative they may be. You play a level and finish it fine, but you’re still only number two or number three in the pecking order. You need to play again, to up your score, to overtake whichever friends are beating you on Angry Birds.
OK, so they’re the five reasons I’m addicted to Angry Birds, and if you’re addicted to Angry Birds as well then they may apply to you too. Together we can beat this addiction. By uninstalling the game from the various places we have installed it. By refusing friend requests or notifications your score has been beaten. By refusing to care about those birds and their godforsaken eggs. Or am I taking it all a little too seriously?
Image Credit: Sarah G…