Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.

They’re red. They’re angry. They’re birds.

First published on The Punch on April 1st, 2011.

Pull back, aim, let go. That’s it. Repeat a billion times.

The game’s objective is to guide a bird with anger management issues, projectile style, into a structure in the aim of killing the pigs within.

It mightn’t be much of a premise, but mobile game developers Rovio thought it sounded like a good idea. Myself and millions of fellow birdflingers around the world have been unproductive ever since it was released on the iPhone. Through careful use of trajectory, timing, and a slingshot, feathered vengeance can be mine.

Every day, a possible 50 million people worldwide spend a collective 200 million minutes trying to rain down avian justice.

Somewhere within the last twelve hours, I have lost most of my productive day. Sure, some of it was consumed by doing grocery shopping, some housework, and a reasonable amount of assignment activity. But like an edgy smoker my hand keeps drifting towards my iPhone. I’m about 2000 points away from earning the final gold star in an Angry Birds level I’m stuck on.

Angry Birds is the most successful game on the iPhone, and is slowly but surely starting to leak across to other platforms and devices. If the numbers released aren’t concerning enough, it’s also worth considering that once you add it up, there’s 1.2 billion hours a year spent collectively around the world, hurling birds at pigs. I can probably account more than I’m comfortable with.

Although you can’t see it in this article, between the previous paragraph and this one, I just spent 15 minutes googling the solution to that level I was stuck on and watching solutions on YouTube. That should keep me going for a while.

It can be distracting having what is essentially a powerful gaming system on me at all times. Before being an accomplice to the anger management issues of birds, I was practicing my ninja prowess on unsuspecting fruit. Before that, I was matching up gems. Think of all the time that I’ve wasted…

Of course the biggest time waster in our lives, without a doubt, is the television. Australia by itself can account for 24 billion hours a year, collectively, with staring at the goggle box. While that might average out to a modest three hours per person (hey, there’s 24 hours in a day to fill), I’ve never lived in an age where the television wasn’t the central piece of furniture in a household. A friend of mine last year told me that he’d gotten rid of his television, and my first thought was to wonder what he pointed his furniture towards.

It also barely holds a candle towards the 13.7 billion global hours a year that players spend in the virtual paradise of World of Warcraft. Twelve million gamers are playing an average of 22 hours a week in maybe a higher level of addiction.

Through clever advertising or reward-based systems (which shows that classical conditioning is alive and well) there are different distractions all over the world that can drag you away from what you should be doing. Some, like poker machines, drain millions of dollars away from people and destroy their lives, giving them little in return. But at least they get sympathy. At least they have a support group.

There’s many like me in the worlds that don’t have that support. But that’s fine, besides our addiction, we have something else in common.

We really hate pigs.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2011 by in entertainment, lifestyle, technology and tagged , , , , , , .
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