A Disclaimer: I started writing this piece a little more than a year ago. Over the next month, I’ll be publishing this essay in progress in parts. You, fair internets, are part of my creative process. There’s a much longer project I’m embarking on, and this essay in progress figures prominently. Thanks for reading. -S.
Thousands of them. Real and imagined, suddenly appear from nowhere. At least to me. My iPod shuffled to a haunting tome in Nina’s brittle contra-alto, ‘Why you wanna fly, blackbird? You ain’t ever gonna fly.’ I clicked a link of short essay of images from the Gulf:
The timing of these two moments did not suggest coincidence. Later, I observed a quiet invasion on the A Train to Manhattan. To my left, a five year old boy’s attention fixed on a small screen. To my right, a forty five year old man methodically slid his index and thumb across a device. Their faces were aglow in part by the blue white light and the satisfaction at destroying something. I didn’t get it. Soon, I discovered the game everywhere.
By the end of 2010, Angry Birds had been downloaded 50 million times. At a 99cents per download, Rovio Corporation, the small Finnish company who created the mobile app with just $100,000 yielded a return of $8 million. I don’t think I’ve ever considered birds angry. What would birds have to be angry about anyway?
I played it once. It’s a simple slingshot game. Three little birds pummel digital wooden and stone structures to retrieve eggs stolen by evil pigs. And if I’m to be honest, there’s something quite gratifying about aiming a thing at a target and hitting it. It’s rote and it’s calming. Anxiety runs pretty is high these days. I’m not sure that I’m good at anything. I can do many things well, but what have I exactly? I’m still struggling with that answer. Yet, this Angry Birds app is the truth. I can advance to higher levels and achieve precision with just two fingers and lord over my opponent. A wooden wall, a house of cards constructed by evil pigs. The metaphor isn’t concealed here. David versus Goliath. People versus the Corporation. Could my bird pummel a brick wall? Will I ever fly again?
I found the observation of this academic curious:
Rovio made a smart choice in making the birds angry, said Jesse Schell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who studies game design and entertainment technology. “You can smash them into things and it’s O.K.,” he said. “Imagine if they were cute little birds. It might be kind of funny on some level, but most people would probably be a little repulsed.”