Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Angry Birds Take Over The World!

Angry Birds have come from nowhere, to become the best-selling mobile game of all time, in the process making it one of Finland's most high profile export of recent years.

Indeed, it has been a busy month for the makers of Angry Birds, Rovio. The small Finnish company, which was allegedly on the verge of bankruptcy before they released the game, has celebrated the 30 millionth download for Android phones, bringing the total downloads to around 100 million. It also received $42 million in extra funding from venture capital firm Accel Partners. And probably most importantly, it has been the object of a tribute on the Conan O'Brien show, in the shape of a real-life version of the game (see below).

At this point, I have to confess that I am not a gamer at all. I retired from active gaming around the time of Pacman (or was it Pong?), as that was already stretching my ability, skills and concentration. But having vaguely followed things from afar, I know that games have generally been getting faster, more complicated and more realistic graphically. In contrast, Angry Birds appears to be ridiculously simple. So simple in fact, that I might even come out of my self-imposed retirement to give it a go some day.

Smug pigs sheltering from catapulted angry birds
In case you have remained untouched by the Angry Bird phenomenon, the prelude to the game is that some green pigs have stolen the birds' eggs. The legless, cross-eyed birds are understandably angry and hell-bent on revenge. So the object of the game is to use a catapult to fling those angry birds at the smug pigs who are sheltering under constructions made of various materials.

What??? Green pigs, cross-eyed legless birds, catapult??? What twisted mind came up with that? Ah yes, a Finnish mind of course!

I actually met some of the guys from Rovio at a recent tradeshow in Barcelona, and they looked quite normal to me - well, in a software-developer sort-of-way. In a recent article, Daily Telegraph journalist Paul Kendall appeared similarly disappointed by the normality and the seriousness of the guys he met at Rovio.

So how does one reconcile this seriousness with the complete wackiness of the game?

Well, it seems to me that it's very much in the tradition of other wacky Finnish ideas. Think of swimming in a hole in the ice in the middle of winter, or wife-carrying racing... These ideas are, let's face it, insane. Yet, the Finnish practitioners take them extremely seriously.

The difference this time is that the Finns have managed to export their insane idea on a grand scale!

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