Angry birds.

I have been playing Angry Birds on my phone. It's this game where, essentially, the player uses a slingshot to fling birds at these sinister green pigs who have stolen the birds' eggs. According to the creators of the app, players are to "use the unique destructive powers of the Angry Birds to lay waste to the pigs’ fortified castles." Destroying all of the pigs on the screen by either smacking your birds directly into them or collapsing structures upon them allows you to advance to the next level. The Angry Birds, supposedly motivated by the loss of their eggs, are kamikazes. They explode upon impact with the pigs, the stone or wooden structures, or, if your aim is too far off, with the ground.

If I play with the sound on, I can hear the birds shrieking as they fly towards their targets and the pigs snorting and laughing when they're lucky enough to survive a shot. It's all honestly kind of deranged. So, basically, if I'm a bird, I'm hurling myself wildly at those who have wronged me, hoping to take them down in an explosion of my own feathers. But I'm not exactly the bird...I'm the force and aim behind the slingshot. Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, claims "Each of the 120 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy." Their description makes me want to utter that guttural noise popularized by Tim Taylor on the 90's sit-com "Home Improvement." Arr, arr, arr!

Do I really have to explain the metaphor to you here? Probably not, right? Angry birds lash out and destroy both themselves and their enemies in pursuit of retribution. They don't negotiate. They don't treat the green pigs the way they would have themselves be treated. They certainly don't establish a schedule of visitation rights so that the green pigs can have the eggs one weekend and the birds can get them back the next...
Nope. They just hurl themselves full speed ahead, blindly at the enemy. I'm not kidding here--the birds even squint their eyes as they're flying through the air. They look like birds on a deadly mission. Kudos to the graphic designers.

So...sometimes I want to be an Angry Bird.

Sometimes I am an Angry Bird.

Frankly, it's easier to be an Angry Bird, to narrow your eyesight so singularly until your entire focus is on one target and everything else fades into the background. You see the wooden pillar only in terms of where and with how much force you'll need to pile into it in order to get it to fall a certain direction. It's easier when you have a single purpose, a driving force, a goal which you doggedly pursue. When you clear one screen of green pigs, there's always another. And another. And another. And it's so easy to just hit "play" over and over, thinking, "One more. I just have to beat one more level. I'll be happy once I obliterate all these damn green pigs."

What you lose sight of is the fact that there are one hundred and twenty levels. Sure, you could probably beat them all if you played the game in every spare waking moment, all day, every day. And also I'd bet when you finally beat level 120, having left a digital trail of bird/pig carnage in your wake, you'll feel so...so...so...nothing. Maybe vague triumph for a split second, followed quickly by boredom, and then disappointment.

Because while you were occupied with playing the game, determined to emerge the victor, you forgot about everything else. You were so consumed by your anger towards those damn thieving green pigs that you let everything else go. And everything else kept right on going around you, without you. And when you looked up, you had no earthly idea where you were.

And so really, who's to say the green pigs didn't win after all?


Adriane said...

Very insightful. Never quite thought of it in this manner before!

chksngr said...

Interesting metaphor...disturbing, but interesting. Who is the angry bird and who is the green pig in the metaphor? hmmmmm....

nancy said...

I'll tell you exactly how long it takes to beat all 120 levels: 7 weeks. Dan did it (I helped) and made 3 stars on every level. What makes me the maddest is the pig chortle after you lose the level.... ARGH!!!

Dan works in construction and after reading this post I'm wondering if there was some sort of satisfaction he got out of demolishing the things he normally puts together.