Viewpoint: Why we like Angry Birds

Tomorrow, Angry Birds fans around the world can celebrate as the new Angry Birds Space is made available for smart phones everywhere. Angry Birds, like IKEA and H&M, has become yet another popular product to be churned out of the apparent paradise of Scandinavia. The Finland-based game has become an obsession all over the world. Millions of people have purchased it for their Androids or iPhones.

Why is it that Angry Birds is so popular? We all ready know the answer for scientists and tech geeks. The answer lies in that the game is basically about physics: seeing how the aim of a slingshot or the speed of a bird brings down many different types of structures. But what about the rest of the population? What about all the people who just like the game without thinking about the science behind it? Why is this one game more successful than other applications available for smart phones? The answer, at the risk of sounding even nerdier, lies in human evolution.

The basic premise of the game is that a group of evil green pigs steal the birds’ beloved eggs. Through the series of games, which has taken the birds through all manner of environments, seasons and even to Rio, the birds, armed with a slingshot and pure determination, launch themselves into a variety of structures created by the pigs. One wins each level by destroying the structures and all the pigs.

Those reading this might think to themselves, what on Earth does any of that have to do with human evolution? The answer lies millions of years ago in the Savannah environment that earlier humans were living. Imagine a young ape-like, human-like parent trying to protect its offspring, or the early human out hunting, trying all manner of ways to bring home the bacon.

Angry Birds captivates us because it taps into the violent ancient instincts that still exist within us. It speaks to all of our basic instincts that have made us successful. The strategy-building required of the birds to destroy the pigs’ increasingly complex structures speaks to the spark of creativity that exists in the human mind that has driven all of the major artistic and technological advances of our civilization. The basic mission of the birds, to reacquire their stolen eggs, speaks to the human instinct to protect our young from threats. Finally, the dramatic deaths of each and every pig strikes at our violent nature that was built as we had to compete over everything from food to who mates with whom during our early days.

Whether the creators of Angry Birds were aware of this or whether it was just pure luck, they have invented a game that is being played every single day by millions of people during lunch breaks and at the water coolers. They have struck a chord in the human mind with a game that will probably still be played 50 years from now.