Angry Birds: One Man's Torrid Affair with an iPhone App

I like to think I'm a pretty good guy. I work hard. I try to treat my friends well. I try to educate myself and grow as a human being. But, I have plenty of faults. I'm more than happy to admit that because it helps me to grow when I realize what a jackass I was.

One fault that rears its ugly head from time to time is my tendency to tune out. As an only child, I had to entertain myself. I did so with video games, music, television and my imagination, which was often far more interesting than my reality. Even as an adult, I had a tendency to recoil into a daze when life seemed overwhelming. Like that kid who escaped into his room full of toys, I would disappear into the Internet or some other mindless time waster.

While I am far less prone to bouts with distraction now, there are times when some sensory virus can trigger that lack-of-focus gene and send me into near oblivion. Most recently, that virus was Angry Birds.

Angry Birds is a wildly popular game for smart phones that is about to be released for Sony Playstation 3 and PSP consoles, God help us. Have I mentioned it's really, really addictive? It's like that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Riker brought back a game from Risa that took over the minds of everyone on the ship and only Wesley Crusher and Ashley Judd could save them. Look it up, it's just like that.

The premise of Angry Birds is as ridiculous as you might imagine. A bunch of really pissed-off fowl take aim at green pigs who have stolen their eggs. Naturally, these swine have taken up residence in various structures made of wood, stone and ice and it is up to birds of varying size and skill (some break into multiple smaller birds, some drop eggs that are bombs and others simply are flying bombs) to fling themselves via slingshot at this medieval-ish architecture until all the pigs are dead.

It's inane. It's silly. It's, as my girlfriend put it, "a complete waste of time," but it is nearly impossible to put down. I found myself playing it instead of reading. I played it while watching TV (I know, I know). I even found myself daydreaming about how much the exploding black birds were awesome. I was in trouble.

After nearly four glorious days of playing and thinking about Angry Birds, I deleted it from my phone and began to detox. The road to recovery is a fairly short one, thankfully, and the only withdrawal symptom is the occasional fleeting memory of the time we spent together, but, God willing, it's over for good.

If you don't mind being addicted to phone-based video games or are planning on being stuck at the airport for 15 to 20 hours in the near future, I recommend Angry Birds, but don't say I didn't warn you.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke