With more than 500 million downloads, Angry Birds is without argue the most popular online game of all time. But why is this simple, irreverent and noisy app so addictive to people of all ages? Perhaps the answer lies in its unique representation of collaboration that we also advocate at InCommons.
Angry Birds, as you likely know, is found on gadgets such as iPads and Kindle Fires as well as touchscreen smartphones of almost any variety. Available in different versions for less than $1.99 and often free, the game focuses on users slinging a series of wingless and angry birds through the air to knock down barriers and buildings that house pigs that stole their eggs. Get rid of the pigs and eventually the birds get their eggs back.
The embittered fowl vary in color, size and abilities. For example, the yellow bird can go fast and can penetrate concrete. The blue one can triplicate itself while mid-air to increase its effectiveness.
One could suggest many reasons why the game is so addictive and acclaimed. For one, it strikes the perfect balance between being easy yet challenging. Or, like the hula hoop or Pac-Man from preceding decades, it's a fad that comes along just at the right time. But could there be a deeper meaning to its success? Perhaps it's because Angry Birds demonstrates to each of us how we need different people with different strengths to solve serious problems. In the Angry Birds game, no individual bird has the skills to knock down the whole barrier; it takes multiple birds to chip away at different parts of the problem. No one bird can do it alone. In life, neither can we.
To solve problems, we need someone with aim, focus and purpose (like the red bird.) We also need someone to ease into the situation, quietly hang around for a while and then explode with solutions (like the black bird). We need someone who can assess the situation from high above, then circle back and take action (like the green bird). We need a person that comes in slowly, drops a bomb of ideas and then moves on quickly (like the white bird).
Deep down, we know we need to collaborate, but too often we go it alone. Perhaps Angry Birds reawakens that belief in us all.
So, if you're an Angry Birds devotee, keep enjoying (and know that through smart collaboration, Angry Birds' founders are supporting important wildlife causes). But as you do so, remember, the secret to true collaboration may very well be in the palm of your hand.