Monday, March 25, 2013

Hello, My Name Is Mama D, And I'm An Addict

With all my heart and soul, I curse the person who first introduced my sons to Angry Birds.

A cute game, I mused, watching them play.  An enjoyable way to pass a few free minutes, I thought.  Ha.  Famous last words, as it turned out!

For those who may have been living under a rock for the past few years, the premise is simple.  Bad pigs have stolen the eggs from birds' nests, and the birds retaliate by trying to kill the pigs.  (The human game-player controls the birds.)  The birds are destroyed in the process of attacking the pigs, which seems a bit counterproductive, but my husband once correctly pointed out that the game is called "Angry Birds," not "Rational Birds."

At any rate, each level presents the player with a line of birds (each type of which has its own properties and abilities) that the player must launch sequentially into the scenario presented for that level: scenery and some kind of structure, in and around which the pigs are arranged in some configuration.  To pass the level, you must kill all the pigs with the birds you are given.  The more points you amass while doing so, the more stars you are awarded for that level, three being the maximum possible.

Fun and addicting.  Unfortunately, because I have mild OCD tendencies, I feel compelled to try to get three stars on every level.  And there are a LOT of levels, so this becomes a major time suck!  Not only are there many, many levels per Angry Birds franchise, there are actually five franchises, all of which I have downloaded--they are ridiculously cheap!--and play obsessively: the original, Space, Seasons, Star Wars, and Rio.   (Angry Birds Rio is somewhat different from the other four in that pigs are not the targets, but it's the same general idea of aiming birds into structures to collapse them.)

My beloved family constantly gives me grief about the amount of time I spend playing this silly game, and not entirely without justification.  My only defense is that it does teach and reinforce useful life lessons!  With this comment, after much consideration, I bring you my very own:


10) Aim high.  If something weighty is at the top of a structure (in this game, as in life), gravity is your friend.  When that object falls, so does the rest of the structure below it.

9)  As a corollary to this, it's important to pay attention to the configuration of a structure so that you can calculate where best to aim a shot.  (Sound familiar, anyone who works with org charts??)  Sometimes, starting operations at the bottom of a structure is most effective.

8)  Look for patterns.  If you've seen a particular configuration before, you should know what you need to do.  Why reinvent the wheel every time if you don't have to?  

7)  Use the tools you're given.  Sometimes, you don't have the tool you want, and improvising is the only way to go.  In this game, birds are your tools.

6)  As a corollary, know how to use your tools.  Doesn't matter what you're given if you don't know what to do with it, or how to use it most effectively.  (Each bird has its own properties...some go through wood, some stone, some glass, some explode or expand like a balloon or drop bombs.)

5)  Consider all the consequences.  What kind of chain reaction will a shot set off?  Is it a good one or a bad one?

4)  Think outside the box (or planetary orbit, or underwater world.)  The obvious way to do something is not always the way that's going to work.  If one approach doesn't work, try something else.

3)  And by extension: there is not always only one right way to do something.  As long as you get all the stars in the end, it doesn't matter which bird you put where in which order!

2)  Execution is everything.  Close only counts in the proverbial horseshoes and hand grenades.

And finally:

1)  Don't give up!  Sometimes it's the 100th attempt at the same shot that finally gets it exactly right.  "Patience, my young Padawan."

See, Dad??  Not a complete waste of my time, after all.  :)  May this list help you to win over the skeptics in your own life!

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