Now once my ordeal was over (it was huge fun), I sat & pondered what made the game so addictive for the millions of users worldwide. After all it’s not every day that 50 million individuals worldwide would download a simple game & then get hooked onto it like crazy.
I went through an article by Charles L. Mauro which gives a cognitive explanation of this consumer behavior worldwide for Angry Birds.
First User Experience
“Oh, this is easy. I have understood. I can play this”
“And the birds are kinda cute & interesting..sweet”
Anyone who has ever played Angry Birds would have found his first experience as very simple or rather ‘perceived’ it as simple.
Angry Birds’ simple interface allows the user to quickly develop a mental model of the game’s interaction methodology, core strategy and scoring processes.
Simple gets Tougher, but gradually..
“This is exciting & challenging”
“Wow, these new birds have got great powers”
As Charles mentions in his article “These little birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user’s mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased. The process of creating simple, engaging interaction models turns out to be exceedingly complex”.
The game slowly progresses to be tougher & more challenging with new birds being tossed at advanced stages.
Clever response time with user error correction
“I need to correct the flight path jusssst a little bit”
“Bingo !! I hit the right spot in this attempt”
The flight of the angry flock is designed to be at a leisure pace as they arc across the sky heading for the pigs’ glass houses.Even in many play sequences, seconds are consumed as the pigs teeter, slide and roll off planks or are crushed under slow falling debris.
This gives the user time to think & correct his next attempt. Thus he can easily use hit & trial to become better & better at the game.
Use players short-term memory
Angry Birds is a surprisingly smart manager of the player’s short-term memory.
When the screen first loads, the user is shown a very quick view of the structure that is protecting the pigs. Just as quickly, the structure is moved off screen to the right in a simple sliding motion.
Predictably, the user scrolls the interface back to the right to get another look at the structure. The game allows the user to reload short-term memory easily and quickly. This keeps the player engaged.
Angry Birds is full of little mysteries. For example, as Charles mentions:
“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?
Why do the birds somersault into the sling shot sometimes and not others?”
Angry Birds’ audio effects and music seem simple but are, in fact, very complex.
In Angry Birds, we hear the birds chatter angry encouragement to their colleagues as each prepares for launch.
We hear avian dialogue as the birds arc toward their targets and hear the pained response from their victims when they strike their targets.
The pigs are by no means silent. When the avian interlopers fail, they are often egged on to try just one more time by the snickering, grinning pigs.
As noticed by Charles, these consistently applied audio elements reinforce the player’s interactions and deepen engagement by emphasizing the human characteristics & qualities of the main characters of the game and providing clever enhanced feedback during critical on-screen behaviors
Memorable Visual Design
So memorable is Angry Birds that the developers have deals for real world “brand extensions”, including Angry Birds stuffed toys, t-shirts, and all matter of off-the-wall consumer goods that make BIG profits. Whats more these have been launched in India as well by Mattel.
To summarize, in the context of Angry Birds, success is bound up in slowing down that which could be fast, erasing that which is easily renewable, and making visual that which is mysterious with nice sound effect and memorable cartoons.
But whatever may be the reason, I just loved playing it & I guess most of us would have? Isn’t it?
Any more people out there who are victims of this addiction? Please share..