My Life as an Angry Bird
According to internet gaming designer, author, and speaker, Jane McGonigal, each day about a half a billion people will spend an hour or more "gaming", with almost two-fifths of that number (183 million) residing right here in the U.S. Annually, Americans will spend about 23.5 billion on games according to the Internet Software Association's 2016 Annual Report. To put that into perspective, that is about 4 billion more than the entire annual budget for NASA. Mark Zuckerburg, in a 2015 report to investors, stated that American's who have a Facebook account spend about forty minutes a day on the social media platform. The Wall Street Journal found that only 15% of that time was spent on Facebook games, but that Facebook netted about 45 million dollars a month in income from this activity.
Enter me and my unhealthy addiction to Angry Birds "Friends". Screen name: "BestoftheBest" It's taken from one of my favorite scenes from the movie Men in Black...
And yes, while I would describe it as a very small amount, I must confess that I have on a few occasions used some of my real money to buy virtual Angry Bird 'coins' so that I can surpass my fellow competitors in this brutal, gladiatorial match of fowl vs swine.
So I have to ask, where does this primal urge to rule the battlefield in the great war between birds and pigs come from!?
Ms. McGonigal makes some interesting arguments for a few positives that can come from some forms of gaming, such as the rapid development of imaginative, problem-solving and collaborative skills. However, somehow I'm thinking that at least when it comes to Angry Birds and games like it that the motivations and outcomes are not quite so noble. It could be just to satisfy a need for mind-numbing amusement, a simple form of escape from the unpredictable complexities of life and its relationships. Or perhaps it is meeting a deeper and perhaps darker psychological desire, such as an ego-driven feeling of victory or superiority. The unspoken sentiment might go like this: "Dammit, I may not be winning at real life but at least I'm the king of the hill in a competition to kill snorting, evil pigs by using a slingshot and an assortment of aerial, feathered predators!"
Either way, one wonders if it's the most effective use of $45,000,000 a month.