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A Cognitive Teardown of Angry Birds

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-really-hate-birds dept.

Games 220

Hugh Pickens writes "The 50 million individuals who have downloaded 'Angry Birds' play roughly 200 million minutes of the game a day, which translates into 1.2 billion hours a year, more than ten times the 100 million hours spent creating Wikipedia over the entire life span of the online encyclopedia. Why is this seemly simple game so massively compelling? Charles L. Mauro performs a cognitive teardown of the user experience of Angry Birds and concludes that the game is engaging, in fact addictive, due to the carefully scripted expansion of the user's mental model of the strategy component and incremental increases in problem/solution methodology. The birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user's mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased ... For example, why are tiny bananas suddenly strewn about in some play sequences and not in others? Why do the houses containing pigs shake ever so slightly at the beginning of each game play sequence? Why is the game's play space showing a cross section of underground rocks and dirt? One can spend a lot of time processing these little clues, consciously or subconsciously. 'Creating truly engaging software experiences is far more complex than one might assume, even in the simplest of computer games,' writes Mauro. 'You go Birds! Your success certainly makes others Angry and envious.'"

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Humanity sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002056)

/thread

Re:Humanity sucks. (0)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002144)

Humanity plural is awesome. People suck.

Snake (4, Funny)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002060)

Can we just agree that Angry Birds is the new "Snake" and move on?

Re:Snake (1)

phoncible (2468768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002398)

Is the graphical difference between the two a good measurement of our society's advancement?

Re:Snake (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002886)

What is "Snake" ?

Re:Snake (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002924)

A game people played at their telephones before the smartphones era.

Re:Snake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38003490)

A game people played at their telephones before the smartphones era.

A game people played in arcades and on early game consoles and home computers, before the mobile phone era.

Re:Snake (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003470)

I assume he means nibbles.

Re:Snake (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003012)

Can we just agree that Angry Birds is the new "Snake" and move on?

Puts me more in the mind of Castles of Doctor Creep [wikipedia.org] or Pharaoh's Curse [wikipedia.org] games, which involved a certain measure of puzzle solving, on and off screen. Love to see these come back, particular Dr. Creep.

because? (5, Informative)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002082)

"Why do the houses containing pigs shake ever so slightly at the beginning of each game play sequence? " because box2D or whatever engine Angry Birds uses needs to stabilize the simulation? Meh .. maybe I'm just too prosaic.

Re:because? (5, Insightful)

nepka (2501324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002248)

It's exactly for that reason. It's always funny when people try to find some deeper reason in simple things, over-analyzing things.

Re:because? (3, Insightful)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003100)

But from a cognition standpoint, those little bits of motion attract our attention, and make us go "Hmm...I wonder...". Sure, many of us in this particular audience realize the structure sometimes needing a few moments to stabilize is a consequence of the dynamic behavior of the physics engine, but we're not the rest of everyone else who gets sucked into it. That was the point of the article.

And it is some or all of those little other things, intended to do so by the developers or not, that suck more of us in to this version of a game archetype compared to other versions.

Also, read up on the design of casinos... there's a reason why they all basically look, feel, smell and sound alike. Or grocery or department store layouts...

Re:because? (3, Informative)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003114)

It's still a valid observation and worth noting. The author may or may not know that the shaking is due to the physics engine equalizing. His point is that it's interesting to users. Most people who play the game are not game developers. they have no experience with physics engines. They see random behavior and their brain churns it over and over again and again trying to correlate it with something. Consequently they are engaged in the game. Its technically a bug or a glitch, but it's a serendipitous one.

Re:because? (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002440)

Very rarely parts of some houses will just fall on their own after the initial shake.
Presumably we're to read into that that the developers had poor toilet training and had sexual fantasies about their mothers and cat.

Re:because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002468)

or, more likely, their birds

Re:because? (2)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003440)

It could be an accidental discovery, but keeping the shake in the beginning of the levels is a conscious design decision by Rovio. The game could have easily implemented the engine without the initial shake, but they decided that it added to the look and feel of the game.

Angry Birds isn't successful because of a big profound idea. It is the attention detail and little things that add up to make a highly polished and interactive experience.

Re:because? (1)

bell.colin (1720616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003456)

You can also exploit (cheat) it, I had one of the whole damn things collapse once without launching one bird. You have attempt to drag off screen while the level loads at the right moment and the physics take over. (my guess is you are dragging while the loading is catching up and hogging a cpu cycle long enough to throw it off)

Downtime (2)

Tuan121 (1715852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002106)

It takes no thought and works for clearing my head during a commute when I don't have the energy to think about work. Just like every other iphone game, nothing specific about angry birds here. It was just one of the first good ones.

Angry Birds a real killer (4, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002124)

If a waking lifetime is around 450,000 hours then at 1,200,000,000 hours Angry Birds consumes nearly 2,700 lifetimes per year.

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (1)

spicate (667270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002456)

If a waking lifetime is around 450,000 hours then at 1,200,000,000 hours Angry Birds consumes nearly 2,700 lifetimes per year.

That brings up an important question: is it better to be dead or to live out a normal lifespan doing nothing but playing Angry Birds? I'm leaning toward the former.

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002948)

Define "better".

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002558)

Or 694,444 Kardashians.

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (2)

FingerDemon (638040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003224)

I think you are on to something there. As a unit of measure, each 30 minutes of wasted time should be referred to as a "Kardashian". The same length of time as their show.

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003314)

I used Kim's 72 day marriage as the basis, but yours works too.

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002826)

If a waking lifetime is around 450,000 hours then at 1,200,000,000 hours Angry Birds consumes nearly 2,700 lifetimes per year.

Tetris was a Soviet plot to undermine American productivity (and has consumed orders of magnitude more time and money than any other game).
The Swedes just stole a free flash game and drew some pigs and birds.

Re:Angry Birds a real killer (1)

mj1856 (589031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003292)

Is it just me, or are assigning values like this a pointless excersize? Afterall, there are PLENTY of other activities that are more popular than angry birds. Angry Birds has nothing on ... masturbation ... drinking ... Elvis

In other words, (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002140)

It's a pretty well made game. Lots of visual clues, depth of strategy, and a smooth learning curve. Really, while hard to do, it's not that hard to analyze. "Mental model of the strategy component"? I'm thinking your just trying to justify a degree there.

Now, if you can take that and make a good game, I'd be impressed. Just saying in long, complex sentences with technical words what any decent game reviewer can tell you already is not impressive. Or news.

Oh, and the crappy plays on words are definitely not making me like this story any better.

Re:In other words, (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002242)

After playing for 20 minutes I was bored. Really, how does this compare to a truly great game? The fact that it is fun and caught on is about as important as Tetris. You aren't a world-minded guru because you do it better than someone else. And jealousy generated from my corner of the room is zilch.

Re:In other words, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002356)

Angry Birds is one of the most popular mobile games on the iPhone and Android devices, and we have already seen quite a few different Angry Birds themed gadget. Can anyone find the Angry Birds

USB drive [hkcolordigital.com]

?

Re:In other words, (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002396)

Never said it was a great game (I haven't even played it, for the record), merely that it seems like it was very well made from a gameplay point of view. There are plenty of games out there that fail at that (mostly by being either too easy or too hard). Angry Birds seems like it's right in the middle: easy enough for casual players, but with enough challenge to keep people engaged. That is not easy.

And difficulty/complexity curves can be even harder, if you add anything beyond a mediocre level of complexity (Tetris would be a great example. Incredibly simple all the way through) as each level has to be carefully balanced to introduce new stuff, but also show you how to use it and forgive the inevitable mistakes people make. And good visual clues are even more difficult, unless you use a massive blinking arrow, which is what most games resort to, even really good ones (like Bioshock).

Re:In other words, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002614)

To many people, "too hard" is the correct difficulty: it weeds out the weak. If you can't man up and deal with a challenging game, you are not a true gamer!

Re:In other words, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38003210)

And this is why filthy geeks are made fun of forever and ever. Man up to PLAY GAMES. Think about that.

Meanwhile, the rest of us who are laughing at you are manning up to deal with life and winning.

Have fun racking up those achievement points or whatever. Very valuable.

Re:In other words, (2)

nepka (2501324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002420)

After playing for 20 minutes I was bored. Really, how does this compare to a truly great game? The fact that it is fun and caught on is about as important as Tetris. You aren't a world-minded guru because you do it better than someone else. And jealousy generated from my corner of the room is zilch.

It's not made to compete with traditional PC or console games. It's made for mobile phones, and for those it's an excellent game. You can launch it quickly, the levels don't really take that long to play (great for quickly playing with phone when you're waiting for something) and the physics make it fun. I can't really think of other mobile phone games which would be more fun and suiting. Maybe some tower defense games, but those aren't as quick to play as levels take a long time. You basically need to pause the game and later continue from where you left.

Re:In other words, (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002476)

I liked all these responses to my question. Yes, very much on the Tetris level, a simple portable game for a few minutes of challenge here or there. How it came to be as popular as Tetris, is a whole other analysis for the next game examiner to dwell on.

Re:In other words, (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002524)

Um. If you're only playing games to show off.. no wonder you get bored. Try playing games for your own entertainment, not your ego.

Are you saying Tetris isn't a great game? WTF. There are some amazing Tetris players out there too. To me a grade A Tetris player is as impresive as someone who does Rubik's cubes blindfolded, etc.

Re:In other words, (1)

f()rK()_Bomb (612162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002662)

After 20mins you problem hadn't got very far and didn't see the progression of complexity of levels and the the extra bird types, I though it was boring really the first couple of times I tried it, but then it really hooked me

Re:In other words, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002372)

I'm thinking your just trying to justify a degree there.

My just what? Are you retarded or just illiterate?

Re:In other words, (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002540)

No, there are plenty of much better games in the AppStore. The sad reality is that every new 1000 apps and games that enter the store daily 99.999% of them will never make it to the top 50, even great titles, unless Apple changes its policy of reporting and featuring games we will be stuck with these old games forever. Anybody of you ever ventured beyond the top100? Pretty much nobody... so those new great games are not really entering the market, this is major frustration developers experience on iOS. This game is successful due to extreme marketing practices and cunning ways employed by the already aggressive publisher to keep it in the top100. It really is 80% marketing 20% game.

I had a wikipedia page... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002148)

I had a wikipedia page, but it didn't meet their notability guidelines and was deleted.

Re:I had a wikipedia page... (2)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002502)

Makes you wonder... how long until somebody start mass murdering or worse in an effort to be notable enough for Wikipedia?

Re:I had a wikipedia page... (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003484)

Oh, now that you mention it, that's a pretty good idea. It would help with the insanity plea too.

Redirect of effort (1)

kodiaktau (2351664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002150)

It would be fantastic if all of that time (100M hrs?!?!) was recaptured into some meaningful or valuable effort. Even if it was a stupid game maybe having that effort stored into stirring pots of rice for hungry children in the 3rd world would be a good use of time.

Re:Redirect of effort (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002246)

Go choke on a dick.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002284)

Even if it was a stupid game maybe having that effort stored into stirring pots of rice for hungry children in the 3rd world would be a good use of time.

Those hungry children can stir pots of rice too and they'd be far better at it, since they're there and not somewhere across the world. It makes more sense, if you're going to think about that sort of thing, to steer effort into stuff that the game players do better than the people who supposedly are being helped. You know, comparative advantage sort of stuff.

Re:Redirect of effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002434)

Now, don't go throwing comparative advantage around. If we're going to be 'fair', then everyone gets to take a turn being an astronaut and digging the ditches. We don't want people getting to do specific things all the time just because they are good at it. The way we make progress is by everyone getting along and distributing resources evenly, and I'm not interested in your 5,000 years of written human history unequivocally documenting the opposite.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002444)

I can argue that people with more money are often better at making money then poor people, yet we encourage them to give their money to others less fortunate. And even if "regular" people donate their time or efforts, it can have a huge impact.

I say it's a matter of scale, not a matter of who is better at a particular task.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002446)

Relaxation is a meaningful use of time. Not to the extent people play Angry Birds (or other video games) or that there aren't better ways (girls come to mind... oh wait this is /., nevermind), but still, just saying. People do need enjoyment and relaxation in their lives. Especially when they have nothing better to do, such as sitting on a bus.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002930)

Relaxation is a meaningful use of time. Not to the extent people play Angry Birds (or other video games) or that there aren't better ways (girls come to mind... oh wait this is /., nevermind

This truly is slashdot, isn't it? And you truly are a slashdotter.
If you had any interactions with females you would know that relaxation is not something that happens in their presence.

Re:Redirect of effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002486)

Better plan: How about they move TO WHERE THE FOOD IS!! You see this?? This is dirt!! You know what's going to be here in 20 year?? DIRT!!!

Re:Redirect of effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002592)

These responses are so goddamn stupid, and they happen every time someone sees a big number.

Who was going to stir a pot of rice for a starving 3rd world kid while they were riding the train to work? And what's wrong with someone spending 30 minutes on a game to chill out before they go to sleep?

Should people do more to help people hurting around the world? Sure. Great. Is there something socially irresponsible about lots of people liking a particular game, or games in general? No. One has nothing to do with the other.

Now if you'd said, someone should have worked the bitcoin mining process into protein folding compute power, or some such, then we'd take you seriously. Otherwise, piss off.

Re:Redirect of effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002618)

It would be fantastic if all of that time (100M hrs?!?!) was recaptured into some meaningful or valuable effort.

*sigh* Yes, yes, thank you, we're proud you have a degree in efficiency study. Now, go run along and trick some CEO into paying you stupidly huge amounts of money to study how their business can shave five seconds off an obscure part of their product design process, and we inefficient swine will sit over here and enjoy entertainment, no matter how much time it wastes.

We might laugh while we do so. Don't be alarmed; not all of it will be directed at the entertainment we're enjoying. Most of it will be at you.

Re:Redirect of effort (2, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002688)

If you stir pots of rice, you're cooking it wrong.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003030)

If you stir pots of rice, you're cooking it wrong.

Rice is cooked by soaking it in water. Typically, we heat the water to increase the speed at which it cooks and the amount of water the rice absorbs.
We typically heat the water indirectly by heating the pot itself.
When you heat the pot, you risk burning rice that comes into contact with the pot.
When the rice burns, the sugars crystallize, and rice becomes stuck to the bottom of the pot.
You absolutely should stir a pot of rice.

Now if you're referring to an automatic rice cooker, many actually recommend that you stir the rice in between the cooking cycle, and others actually use a double boiler method to cook the rice. These you don't have to stir, but they're not pots.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003342)

You definitely want to stir it a bit near the end of the cooking cycle.

I swear by Mahatma rice. Never had a bad batch.

Re:Redirect of effort (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002900)

It would be fantastic if all of that time (100M hrs?!?!) was recaptured into some meaningful or valuable effort. Even if it was a stupid game maybe having that effort stored into stirring pots of rice for hungry children in the 3rd world would be a good use of time.

99% of that time is spent multitasking anyway.
How much more productive can you be while taking a dump?

Here's how it goes:
Sit on the shitter.
Grab phone out of pants pocket.
Check email.
Read all tweets/social media bullshit updates.
Play all turns on Wordfeud (or Words with Friends, if you like buggy, inferior shit).
Load up Angry Birds because there's nothing else to do.
Play until you're done shitting, AND you've gotten 3 stars on the current level.

Re:Redirect of effort (5, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003362)

The iPad has revolutionized my poop time.

There's a sentence I didn't expect to type today. Or ever.

Re:Redirect of effort (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003308)

OK, but how does the stirred (not shaken) rice get from me to... ah! You're thinking with portals!

(QD goes to play Portal 2 again)

wikipedia (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002162)

more than ten times the 100 million hours spent creating Wikipedia over the entire life span of the online encyclopedia

Well, there were 200 million hours spent, but they were deleted as not-noteworthy

Re:wikipedia (3, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002216)

Citation needed

Re:wikipedia (2)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002390)

No original research.

Evil UI (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002188)

Although I played it for a while, it always seemed to me like an impeded game of tanks. Not being able to enter an angle and power just became frustrating. My fat finger wasn't an accurate way to control avian ordnance whilst stood on a packed train so I gave up. I'd say i got some of my "life" back; but that isn't possible when commuting to and from work.

Re:Evil UI (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002670)

That's the nice thing about Tiny Wings. Just one control - you're either touching the screen (anywhere) or your not.

Re:Evil UI (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002816)

So play it sitting down?

Inflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002254)

So now a bird in the hand is worth 10 in the brushy labyrinth that is Wikipedia.

I wish... (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002288)

For a second, I thought "it would be cool if the guys behind the new CoD could read this and learn a bit"...
But then I thought that they would just make X sequels of CoD where the first one is innovating and the rest are the same rules applied over and over again because they work.

This breakdown of the game, part by part, must look like some kind of a miracle recipe for those who want a quick buck (read: every CEO out there).

Well, that certainly makes it unique (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002292)

The birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user's mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased ...

Translation: The game gets harder as you go along.

Re:Well, that certainly makes it unique (0)

spicate (667270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002406)

The birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user's mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased ...

Translation: The game gets harder as you go along.

I think a better translation is: The game offers you more tools for solving problems as it gets harder. Still not earth-shattering, since many games do this, but you oversimplified.

How does this make the dev managers feel? (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002354)

You know the standard console games, the dedicated gamers, people who plunk down $2000 on a cool looking case for the PC, constantly looking for more graphics card performance, immersive gaming experience ... And these dev managers kept giving them what they want. Then Wii shows up with rudimentary graphics, trivial gaming strategies, but with a new user interface. Rocks the world and kicks the pants off the traditional gaming platform. Then this angry birds. Seemingly trivial game that a self-described "gamer" would not even deign to take a second look at, and it is played by more people than the population of China! Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can explain it. You deconstruct it. You can do Monday morning quarterbacking and make a cogent theory that describes it well, may be even accurately. But, there were professional software development managers. Working for XBox, and Sony Playstations, constantly looking for new ideas, new games, new strategies, new ways to expand their marketplace... All of them flunked. They did not see Wii coming. They did not see the Angry Birds coming. Why?

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002404)

Working for XBox, and Sony Playstations, constantly looking for new ideas, new games, new strategies, new ways to expand their marketplace... All of them flunked. They did not see Wii coming. They did not see the Angry Birds coming. Why?

There are lots more casual gamers than dedicated gamers. Casual gamers generally don't buy gaming PCs or game consoles, unless they're cheap.

As for the Wii, I saw one once. I don't know anyone who owns one.

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38003098)

Actually, I know many people who own one... The real trick is to find one person among those owners who actually "uses" the Wii they own.

I bought a Wii because it was neat at a party I attended. After a few hours I had my fun, then my attention waned and I got bored. I decided to go back to my XBOX and I rarely ever use the Wii anymore.

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003434)

I thought there'd be more good JRPGs on the Wii. Well, there *are*, but Nintendo refuses to bring them to the US despite there already being English translations for the UK market and despite a vocal market who would like to see them.

[rarity]See if *I* buy a Wii U. Hmpfff![/rarity]

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002414)

The same reason solitary is the most played game on PC. Popular platform, and after a while a game can feed on its own fame.

Mod Parent Up! (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003018)

This. It's just an accessible, well-known game you can kill time/trance out with. People are freaking out about it being some kind of amazing formula to make millions but really it's just what Windows Solitaire has been for so many years. This time someone was able to monetize it, but at this point that lesson isn't useful until the next big platform shift, and even then you'll probably be headed off at the pass by Angry Birds' momentum.

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003452)

Solitary? That some sort of prison game?

(sorry)

Don't read the news much do you? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002428)

Nintendo made a loss. The 3DS tanked and Wii sales are dropping.

The problem with going after casual users is that they are fickle. I got to buy new games to justify my expensive gaming rig. But a casual player? Here today, gone tomorrow.

Oh and it is Angry Birds that is hurting Nintendo the most.

Re:Don't read the news much do you? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003196)

Nintendo made a loss. The 3DS tanked and Wii sales are dropping.

Nintendo has made huge amounts of profits off of the Wii. And huge amounts of profits off of the DS.
The 3DS did not tank by any measure. It sold more units in the first X months than the original DS.

The video game industry operates on generations, not fiscal years. Furthermore, the bulk of Nintendo's "loss" is on paper (vs previous forecasts), and the main cause is the strong yen and failing dollar/euro.

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002466)

Well they target different markets. iPhone games or the Wii are best for casual gamer. Who want a quick fix then get on with their lives.

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (1)

spicate (667270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002514)

Seemingly trivial game that a self-described "gamer" would not even deign to take a second look at, and it is played by more people than the population of China!

The 50 million individuals who have downloaded 'Angry Birds'...

Population of China is about 1.3 billion. That's some serious software piracy...

Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (1)

TreeInMyCube (1789238) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002882)

Your post reminds me of Christensen's "Innovator's Dilemma" from the late 1990s. Console game developers, and PC game developers, are listening ever more closely to their customers. More pixels/polygons, more frames/sec, deeper storylines, open universes. Along comes a disruptive innovation -- mobile platform with a relatively coarse-grained user interface (fingers). Or a different disruptive innovation -- accelerometer-driven Wii-motes. A whole new audience segment is discovered, e.g., senior citizens for Wii Bowling, and casual gamers for Angry Birds. Christensen argued that the existing providers (such as PS3 developers) would find it very difficult to produce such innovations while working within the parameters of their existing market.

learn anything through games (2)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002442)

Their is some value in understanding just how powerful iterative learning tied with reward is.

Of course this is way easier to apply to a game then to real life subjects, but we could try.

Imagine a computer programming tutorial game. Problems are thrown at your to solve by writing a function, class, whatever. Successful unit tests bring rewards and so on.

Functions written in the early parts of the game could be used in subsequent challenges if not required. Use of them brings bonuses, achievements, etc. The faster your code runs the better...so replay would include rewriting older versions of your functions as to improve performance.

There are plenty of games out there for children around school subjects, etc, but I rarely see them marketed at adults. Could modern warfare 3 not actually teach something as the game play goes....seems like language would be a good fit. You have to interact with characters in the game with more and more complicated version of some language to proceed. Start with having to say hi to a guard in whatever language, end the game having to convince him your not a spy.

I guess the real point is creating a better sense of achievement and combining entertainment to overcome the usual tediousness associated with learning. I liked learning how to code because every time the compiler reported no errors it was like completing a level of angry birds. I can't say the same for economics and for many I'm sure they got no pleasure from cracking a calculus problem.

Re:learn anything through games (1)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003166)

In lieu of mod points... those are fantastic ideas - very thought provoking.

Re:learn anything through games (1)

BlackSupra (742450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003350)

Imagine a computer programming tutorial game. Problems are thrown at your to solve by writing a function, class, whatever. Successful unit tests bring rewards and so on.

Light Bot! http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/459508 [newgrounds.com] Awesome puzzle game that includes writing functions and loops.

Re:learn anything through games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38003474)

In grade 4, I began pulling ahead of my classmates in math. I had a phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime teacher that year who went above and beyond to challenge me (something I never experienced again in my schooling). He set me up in front of a computer that had a racing game that asked math questions. Correct answer and your car pulled ahead a bit, wrong and your car slowed down a bit.

I will NEVER forget what a scalene or isosceles triangle is because of that week of "playing". I learned about as much as any regular day of school learning new material, but what I learned STUCK.

If more of my learning experiences had been this interactive, I would have retained a lot more from my schooling, of that I have no doubt.

Good idea. (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002462)

Fact: Lots of time is wasted playing video games.

Let's waste a lot more time analyzing why!

(In other news - why in God's name does my browser still think I live in Canada - it marks "analyze" as mispelled.)

Re:Good idea. (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002680)

It's analyse in British English

Re:Good idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38003508)

Congrats! You got the point of the sentence! Pat yourself on the back.

or maybe... (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002566)

it's like the game in the ST:TNG episode (the one where Wesley Crusher saved the Enterprise)

Re:or maybe... (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002832)

Yeah, but less Ashley Judd, dang it.

Re:or maybe... (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002862)

That was like half the episodes; you need to be more specific.

And here I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002626)

..that the popularity was because it's one of the few games that is easy to pick up and play and which works well with a touchscreen interface. The challenge is only interesting for those who like to beat games. I would suspect that most players just like the ability to pick it up and play.

Mountains out of Molehills (1)

Araes (1177047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002684)

This is a prime example a black swan. "The event is a surprise and has a major impact. After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight." Its a normal problem of tipping point studies and knowledge propagation. An otherwise good game goes viral and suddenly the circles of those who know about it expand exponentially until everybody does. Rationalization and questions after the fact. "Why did it spread, why is it so amazing". Its cheap. Its easy to get. Its easy to communicate why its fun. It has low bariers for starting to play. It has emergent depth. Yay.

Navel gazing about how the buildings shake doesn't illuminate why it actually spread.

I'm not that interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002744)

It's good for people who enjoy that genre, whatever it is, but I don't really enjoy the game that much. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to games, even casual ones. I kinda prefer something like Dragon Quest on these devices.

Apple (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002748)

From one of TFAs: "The developers at Rovio took existing gameplay, presented it in a unique style, and sold it to people who would never have looked twice at Crush the Castle or the games from which it had been derived." So Rovio is just like Apple then! Maybe Rovio's boss should be the new Steve Jobs.

that stupid game is nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38002798)

... I remember playing Gorilllas on QBASIC almost 15 years ago... that game was 1,000% better than Angry birds, which is nothing more than a trivial distraction

This. (4, Interesting)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002962)

"seconds are consumed as the pigs teeter, slide and roll off planks or are crushed under slow falling debris. "

This, this and this. There is something very satisfying about watching a structure teeter at the brink and then fall over in a spectacle of smashing debris.
Also, the other day i figured out that i could topple a tower by timing a bird strike to correspond with the pendular motion of the structure after an initial strike. It blew my shit away....that realization.....the satisfaction of that......the simplicity of it.... It's a good simple game, can't we just enjoy it?

Why is this [...] game so massively compelling? (1)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002994)

Easy: casual gamers got bored of FarmVille.

Or... (2)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003064)

While it is interesting to see a UI expert dissect a piece of software, this piece reminds me a bit of folks who do analysis of lottery ticket numbers and then try to convince us that the winners are geniuses. We all know of a bazillion games that are similar shoot-projectile-random-result games (golf, bowling, Bloons, Peggle, Darts) and why they are addictive. Angry Birds is good, but the amazing success probably has more to do with social mania than UI design. OH, and hitching your corporate bandwagon to the iOS.

I killed 66 pigs (1)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003416)

and 45 angry birds in about the same time as reading this article and posting this comment - sad that my Karma here still sucked bad!

Simple, Yet Challenging (4, Interesting)

CycleFreak (99646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38003422)

I installed on my Android tablet (Acer Iconia, btw). I have not played games since Quake II - yeah, I'm old(er). But I thought I'd try it out just to see what all the hype was about.

Here's why I keep playing it: Learning the game was fast and the controls are intuitive. I can fire it up in seconds, play a few levels and be done. I don't feel like I need to invest hours in it just to get good at it. But the game itself is actually enjoyable and satisfying to play. Look, after a day of stress at work, I don't really want to "work" at playing a game. I want to relax and have some fun. The graphics are well done and the sounds made by the birds and pigs are humorous. Even after playing it for weeks, I still giggle a little at the sound effects.

But really, the biggest thing is that the game is good for time-fill rather than time-suck. Also, let's face it: There are millions (billions?) more people who are not "gamers" than there are "gamers". (Too many quotes? Possibly.)

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