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Feb 03

Angry Birds

Apparently everybody plays Angry Birds.  Why is it so popular?

So I downloaded the app to my iphone and have played through a few levels.  I’m not sure why it’s so sticky.  The “what happens if I try this” hook that gets you to take another shot at a difficult puzzle and gets you to try the next puzzle is pretty effective.  It vaguely reminds me of why Sid Meier’s Civilization is such a dangerous game.  Civ is the most sticky, most life-interfering game I know, but I don’t know exactly why.  You get into that loop of, “what happens if I try this?” and then you see what happens and it really captures you into trying the next thing, and the next, and then you notice 6 hours or more have gone by…

Angry Birds was originally recommended to me by a colleague at a different university (who is not really a game player).  Then my kids mentioned playing it.  Then I saw a faculty member playing around with it during downtime in a faculty meeting.  Then I saw friends recommending it for entertainment for a friend who’s laid up for a bit.  It has definitely pushed some people’s buttons.

UPDATE: I’ve been talking about how dopamine reward is maximized by unexpected success for days now and totally failed to put it together with this app until I found myself yet again think “oh, cool, I didn’t think that would work” after a surprising outcome led to beating a level.  AB has a lot of that experience.  I also feel like the best crossword puzzles do, too.  Is this the main source of pull for the puzzle games?

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