Angry Birds taking wing

An Orwellian craze is sweeping the nation, one that contends four legs are bad and two legs are good.

Angry Birds is an app from Rovio Mobile in which the player uses torpedo-like wingless birds to terrorize a bunch of mischievous pigs, who have brought this upon themselves by hightailing it with the birds’ eggs.

For those of you like me, for whom the words “angry birds” are more reminiscent of Hitchcock-style horror than leisure time fun, this may in fact be news.

My first exposure to Angry Birds occurred during a business party at a colleague’s house. A persistent 6-year-old first stole his father’s iPhone and then recruited me to observe his gift of using birds to shoot down swine.

In fact, the little one so often partook in such behavior that it led his father to post the following on Facebook:

“New word for 2011 — angry birded: the condition of finding your iPhone covered in little fingerprints and the battery drained e.g.: I went to check my email and had to go find my charger after I discovered that I had been angry birded. When I asked the 6-year-old about it, he just smirked.”

I must say that when I first encountered this game, it was not all new to me. My other half has had a weakness for these sorts of games in the past, using trebuchets or catapults to launch boulders toward an enemy castle in the name of conquest and glory. Perhaps I’m lame, but I do have “Crush the Castle” on my iPod Touch currently.

However, Angry Birds is significantly cuter and more whimsical, which may give it the edge it seems to have over competitors. According to Rovio’s website, Angry Birds is the number one paid mobile app in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and Niger, among several others. A simple Facebook search reveals well over 2 million fans of the game and it notoriety has extended so far as to garnish the game a nomination for international recognition as the best mobile game.

That’s right: Angry Birds is up for a Webby Award, held as the leading international honor for web-based content. Still, some are not persuaded.

Another friend on Facebook who has been doing a surprising amount of travel lately recently encountered a bevy of bird enthusiasts.

“At least three people sitting in front of me on the flight home were playing Angry Birds. JFTR (‘just for the record,’ if this acronym was lost on you as it was on me), I find the game to be incredibly boring.”

I for one believe that the craze will continue. The game is an addictive sort of fun. It reads similarly to a digital version of pool: You control the angles and power of impact, then sit back and enjoy the loud and colorful carnage. It sucks you in as you nervously watch the teetering bricks and boards, silently praying that just one more will fall to allow you to vanquish the evil green piglets. It’s a game of dominos or a house of cards where you’re freed from the painstaking set-up and left to reap the joys of destruction and mayhem, which I think will appeal to the remnants of our childhood ways.

Whether or not you have angry birded, this cultural phenomenon will be around for a while yet. So far, Rovio has released two variants, one of which is a seasonally altered pack for which an Easter-type interface will soon be introduced.

Love it or hate it, it seems Angry Birds has the hearts of the world pegged.

Lindsey is a graduate student