Lessons from angry birds

Posted April 9th, 2011 by admin

Two nights ago, I deleted my Angry Birds in Rio app from my Droid…. Well, it was actually 5 am.

I spent much of the next sleepy day wondering what made that game so addicting, and why I would keep on trying to get to the next level.

I also spent two hours in a park, meditating with my eyes closed, seeing images of things falling, crashing… just one more monkey…

(hang on, I’ll get there in a minute)  A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary on dreams.  It seems that after running a maze for several days, a rat will actually run the maze during the REM phase of his sleep (I’m serious, they actually wired this little rat’s brain and mapped it out on a visual computer screen!)  It seems that during the sleep I missed while playing Angry Birds in Rio, I should have been trying to work out the events of my life, learning how to do it better the following day, a form of virtual life experience if you will.  I beat the system–I learned more from Angry Birds.

Anger:  A very motivating force.  What else will get you to try, try again to lob little kamikaze birds into rocks, bricks, boards, metal cages and vicious vampire monkeys?  There are always way too many birds to free or monkeys to kill, and you have to keep getting better at it to get to the next level.

Strategy:  You only have a small number of birds to use as bombs, bullets, etc. (how sick is that?)  Throw in obstacles–some moving, all falling, some that will rearrange to make a stronger barrier; so it is mentally stimulating to figure out exactly where the bird has to hit the pile of stuff to cause one of three events:

(Motivation:) …Free a bird (a truly noble cause), damage as much stuff as you can to drive your score up, or kill a monkey.  If you think about it, it appeals to  good (promote freedom), neutral (raise the score), and evil (KILL those damn monkeys) desires in our psyche.

The Slippery Slope:  I find it interesting that the first level was all about freeing trapped little innocent birds.  The second level was about killing vampire monkeys.  I didn’t play long enough to find out what was next for fear of having to bust through a moral barrier (not to mention the need for sleep.)

There is no such thing as a mindless game (, activity, relationship, career, etc.).  When we are not smart enough to keep from getting sucked into activities like Angry Birds (or Facebook), we need to consider who or what we are using as ammunition, what is our true motivation, and whether the reward is worthy of  what we will need to sacrifice or compromise to attain it.

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