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What is the one game in the world that has youngsters, hip teenagers, middle-aged soccer moms, business executives and retired seniors all glued to their smartphones, tablets and PCs? Unless you have been living under a rock for the last two years, the answer should be a resounding Angry Birds. With more than half a million downloads worldwide as of November, 2011, it is the game that seemingly everyone, everywhere is playing.
The premise is simple. Little green pigs have stolen eggs from a flock of kitschy, colorful little birds. Of course, the offense angers these wingless, unnaturally-shaped birds. In response, the birds seek out their revenge by catapulting themselves at the pigs. Hidden behind various structures, the pigs desperately try to protect themselves, even laughing when a bird unsuccessfully attempts to knock down their hiding place.
From the player's point of view, the game appears fairly simple. The idea of catapulting little birds at structures made of ice, stone, wood and other materials lends to the idea that the game is overly simple. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, destroying the structures to get to the pigs is part of the puzzle. The appearance of ease is part of the game's allure, feeding the gamer's addiction. Throw in the snarky snorts and giggles of the offending green pigs, and players can't help but want to see to the pigs' demise. The game, like most puzzle games, is based on levels. Players must destroy all the pigs in a given level before unlocking the next level. Levels become increasingly more difficult, but more birds also become available. Some birds have special skills. Tiny little blue birds can multiply into three birds with just a tap. Round little black birds can hold their breath until they turn red and explode, increasing their destructive powers. Although more birds with varying skills become available, the pigs also gain advantages as levels progress. Larger pigs can take more damage, while pigs with helmets offer another challenge for the birds. Who would have ever thought that a simple game app, featuring grumpy, wingless birds fired from a sling shot, would become a worldwide craze? What is it about Angry Birds that makes the game so universally addictive? Ask anyone who has ever played the game and the answers will likely run the gamut. In short, you simply have to play the game to understand just how incredibly addictive it becomes. There's just something about hurling those birds and watching those little green pigs go poof!
Since it's release in 2009, Angry Birds has grown from a free game app for iPhones, to one the most downloaded gaming applications in the world. The game is now available for iPhones, iPads, tablets, Android phones and even PCs. In January, 2011, Apple listed Angry Birds as the fourth most downloaded paid iPhone app of all time, topped only by Doodle Jump, Tap Tap Revenge 3 and Pocket God. The highly addictive game has taken Rovio, Angry Birds' developer, from a nearly bankrupt company with just 12 employees, to a multi-million dollar empire with more than 150 employees in just two short years. Future plans include versions for several popular game consoles. Already the game boasts three versions, including the original Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio. Editions for the Seasons editions include the latest release, Ham'o'ween, as well as versions for Valentine's Day, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day and more. Angry Birds Rio is a direct tie-in to the hit movie, Rio. The game's premise is that the original Angry Birds are captured and taken against their will to Rio de Janeiro, where they team up with notable Rio characters.
The growing popularity and down-right addictive nature of the game has spawned an entire merchandising arm for developer Rovio. Stuffed toys, cell phone cases, bags and other novelty items are available for die-hard Angry Birds fans. Apparel, bird masks and even school supplies further extend the Angry Birds merchandise available. There are even rumors of a feature-length film, Saturday morning cartoons and other expansions. So, what is it about Angry Birds that has everyone so intensely addicted to playing the game? Is there some secret psychology behind catapulting irate birds at snarky little pigs? PC Magazine published a story in early 2011 with interesting research from Ask Your Target Market, a marketing research firm founded by David Handel and Lev Mazin. According to AYTM, more than 80 percent of players report feeling addicted to Angry Birds. Although addictive, more than 75 percent of users say they have no plans to remove the game from their device.
In an article published in Psychology Today, Dr. Michael Chorost explains that the game's simplicity and humor provide entertainment, but it is the affect on dopamine that creates the addiction. According to Chorost, the game creates tension, for which the brain craves release. Upon being rewarded by popping pigs and crashing structures, the brain is rewarded with dopamine, which provides release from the tension created by the game. Chemically, the brain craves whatever allowed for the release of the tension, making players want to catapult more birds and see more pigs go poof! If you haven't already become addicted, or if you are just starting on your journey into Angry Birds, be prepared to feel a little anger yourself as you play the game. It can be frustrating to launch bird after bird, only to inflict little damage on the structures protecting those snarky little green pigs. The snickering from a barely-bruised green tormentor will eventually have you determined to see him, and all of his little piggy buddies, ultimately pop. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it might appear. As such, tutorials are available all over the Internet. In fact, Rovio has released several tutorials for each version of the game, and each level within those games.
You can find most of the official tutorials through Rovio's YouTube channel, available at http://www.youtube.com/user/RovioMobile.
Through the Rovio YouTube Channel, beginners can find tutorials for most of the original free version of Angry Birds. Starting with the first level, you can find answers for the best way to knock down structures, which birds have special features and clues on how to angle the sling shot.
Walkthroughs and tutorials are available for the original version of Angry Birds, regardless of the device on which it is played. There are some differences between the free and paid versions, but most of the walkthroughs apply to either version. Rovio offers walkthroughs all the way through the 11-2 level of the free version.
Likewise, Rovio offers official walkthroughs for the Rio edition of Angry Birds. As with the original edition, each level has its own walkthrough. If you find yourself stuck on a particular level, you can find an official walkthrough by searching with the numbers of your current level. For example, if the structures on Angry Birds Rio, level 7-11 has you ready to throw your phone, you can find this walkthrough on Rovio's YouTube Channel.
While Rovio offers several walkthroughs for each level of the free and Rio editions, they do not offer walkthroughs for Angry Birds Seasons. Other players, users and organizations, however, offer non-official walkthroughs. For example, if you want to know how to get three stars on Angry Birds Ham'o'ween level 1-8, YouTube user AngryBirdNest offers the tutorial shown below. Finding walkthroughs and tutorials is simple. Just search for a particular level and most likely, someone will have a video available.