5 Terrible Lessons That Angry Birds Teaches Us

It goes without saying that Grand Theft Auto and such games exhibit a horrible value system. But why should they have all the fun? Even innocuous games are full of hate and unethical behavior. Take for instance:

Just The Facts

  1. Birds
  2. Are
  3. Angry.

Why Be Dem Birds So Angry?

So by now surely everybody and their mother has played Angry Birds, but here's a quick explanation for the six of you who haven't:

A group of birds with round bodies and vestigial wings finds their nest empty and their eggs gone. The trail leads to a bunch of pigs.

Rather than your standard porcines, these pigs are green, presumably from eating too many eggs, and either mischievous or evil; it's never made quite clear. The birds, understandably upset by their young being kidnapped and served up scrambled, decide to seek blood vengeance for the death of their family by using a slingshot in a weird blending of Frank Castle and Dennis the Menace. They hop into the slingshot and it is your job to aim them at the pigs in their protected structures of wood, glass and stone (hay, sticks, and brick presumably being outdated). If you run out of birds before you run out of pigs, you lose. And to keep gameplay interesting, each bird has a variation in what it can do.

Red for accuracy, yellow for speed, blue for multishot, black for explosions,

green for boomerange, and white for creating inventive new swear words.

Seriously. bad as the green ones are, I fucking hate the white birds!

However, addictive as this game is (and I should point out that I missed meeting my meth dealer twice just to get three stars on one level) it does wind up teaching some questionable moral lessons. I am not saying these lessons are intentional or even that they are necessarily wrong, but they do go against the central tenants of most major religions and government institutions and so I think they should at least be brought to the public consciousness.

5. Encouraging the Wanton Destruction of Property

The process of getting to those nasty little piggies is not always easy. They are cunning, those moustached and crowned pigs, and they hide behind shelter, forcing your birdies to smash into them with abandon, knocking down any impediments along the way.

The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but in real life it is also ta quick way to wind up in prison.

"You don't understand, officer. They're pigs who're green! This was totally justified!"

See, although those pigs are most definitely in the wrong, they have presumably made a quick retreat back on their property. So when the birds go smashing through that property, they are committing the crime of willful and malicious destruction of property. And in fact, you would also be liable just for helping them by aiming the slingshot, because encouraging destruction of property is also a criminal act. The punishment for these acts varies greatly depending on the amount of damage done and the intent behind it. It can be considered vandalism, which is just minor defacement, all the way up to terrorism.

Fuck whoever photoshopped this, BTW.

And while every single video game character since the dawn of time has engaged in property damage to some extent, from Link hacking through bushes and smashing clay pots to find rupees to Mario smashing floating blocks, that's a minor aspect of the game. In Angry Birds the entire point is to smash as much as possible. You literally cannot get a top score without demolishing just about everything on the screen.

4. Cheating is Not Only Allowed but Encouraged

Actually, this game not only encourages you to cheat, it gives you extra points if you do.

There is an additional feature you can buy called the Mighty Eagle. When you are stuck on a level you can summon the Mighty Eagle (for a small, one-time fee). Your remaining birds are exchanged for a tin of sardines which you throw at the pigs, then the shadowy shape of the eagle swoops down and demolishes anything in its way.

Apparently the Rovio Mobile animators translated "Eagle" as "Bullet Bill"

If you cannot get past a level, you can totally cheat by summoning the Mighty Eagle to clear it for you. Sure, there's a big eagle silhouette on the level selection screen announcing to all and sundry that you're a cheater cheater pumpkin eater, but you can go on to the next level. But rather than make that a sign of weakness, as most cheat codes are considered, this game encourages you to rosebud the hell out of the game. If you destroy absolutely everything on the screen you can win a feather for the level, turning this from a way of cheating to a whole different game in the same arena.

Is it ethical to cheat in a game, even if it is just against yourself? Is it ethical to cheat when that is the only way to succeed? Angry Birds answers a resounding "yes" to both. And it also begs the question, how long until they start making levels impossible without resorting to the Eagle, or to some other app that requires a few more bucks out of all of our pockets?

Why not just make it altogether impossible without punching in the Konami Code?

3. Angry Birds is Pro-Vigilantism

Every action movie focuses on one man pushed too far, who is driven to pick up the weapon of choice and dispense some well-deserved justice in a world desperate for it.

Leaping away from an explosion toward the screen is also

an integral step to this process. Hence there is dynamite in Angry Birds.

It makes for a great movie, but in the real world it makes for a felony. This is because many years of law enforcement have shown time and again that people taking the law into their own hands inevitably make things way, way worse. At best, this results in complete inefficiency and maybe hindernig the investigation, at worst in lynch mobs and scapegoats.

And at very worst, Mel Gibson movies.

Vigilantism is the act of taking the law into your own hands. And it's almost never a good idea, because the people who are the most likely to engage in it are the people who are obviously not thinking clearly. They are not using deductive reasoning and piecing clues together; they are not likely to pause and wonder if the orgy of evidence leading to the pigs were set to frame their porcine neighbors. After all, when real people come home to find their children taken, they scream, they tear through the house, they rage against God. At some point after all that they remember to call the police and scream some more.

When in danger, fear or doubt

Run in circles, scream and shout

This is proper and as it should be. Losing your child is one of the most terrifying experiences any parent can suffer; ask anyone who ever turned around for two seconds in the supermarket. The realization "My baby is gone!" immediately freezes up all of your mental processes from focusing on anything except "Make it not be so." In this case, detective work comes second to finding the first person who looks like he might be a child molester and beating him bloody while you demand he return your son or daughter. The abject terror that is the human autonomic response in this situation makes climbing into a slingshot and hurdling yourself into a building seem like a perfectly rational response by comparison.

But it's not. It's counterproductive and dangerous, and if lawyer ever get involved such actions might even allow the evil pigs to go free.

In Angry Birds, it takes 3 chapters and 63 levels to enact vigilante justice on the pig masterminds who stole the eggs, and that's just in the first story. And it still doesn't keep the pigs from coming back for more. If the Angry Birds had gone to the authorities, they cops could have easily collected enough evidence to put all of them behind bars for a long time.

Although in this particular circumstance, seeking help from the pigs may do more harm than good.

2. It Encourages Revenge

One of the oldest stories of mankind, the drive for vengeance has been the ruin of many a soul. With the possible exception of The Count of Monte Cristo, the overwhelming moral in every single tale about revenge is that it is bad. The obsession for revenge consumes men's lives, drives countries to centuries of untold conflict, even makes Natalie Portman don a Guy Fawkes mask.

Is it obvious that we can't tell reality from fantasy yet? How much longer

can we discuss the morality of a $0.99 PPD app before it becomes so?

The one truth we take away from most tales of revenge is the futility of it all. Revenge is the most bitter of fruits. No matter how thorough the retribution, the reward is inevitably hollow.

Who knows how many eggs the pigs took? One? Ten? Fifty? How many pigs must die before the scales match? The birds never say. They never even pause to wonder. They just declare a War on Pork. And even when they get a few eggs back the next batch is also taken, and the pigs escalate their schemes as just as in real life, revenge ultimately proves futile. Rather than come to understand this and overcome it, the birds go out for blood in wave after wave of unsuccessful vengeance.

"MIssion Accomplished!"

The Angry Birds are vengeance personified. They literally destroy themselves and bring down everything around them as they strive to get to their targets. And if you're not cool with that, you don't get to play anymore.

1. It Supports Genocide

Okay, maybe that's a little harsh, but only outside the context of the game itself.

Remember we were just asking how many pigs must die before the birds are satisfied? The correct answer, of course, is ALL OF THEM.

"No mercy for the killers of babies!"

Angry Birds is a pass/fail setup. You do not get to go on until you have sent every single liddle piddy on the screen going wee-wee-wee all the way to hell. If even one of them lives, even battered and bruised or maimed for life, you fail.

The lesson: no one gets out alive.

Why did the pigs steal the eggs? Because they hate the birds' freedom.

Granted, when these green hams took the eggs, they automatically became The Enemy. But clearly there was animosity there to begin with. In the opening animation the birds see their eggs gone and immediately look over to the pigs. Who knows what the history of this was before; perhaps the birds have been oppressing the pigs for decades and the have finally decided to strike a blow back in the most spectacular, horrible way they can. We don't know.

All we know is that these two sides hate one another, both are committing wartime atrocities, and it does not look like either side will stop until one or the other is dead, dead, dead.

Even Bowser lived to fight another day.

This is a dark pattern throughout history. Its consequences have been seen time and again, such as between the Hutu and the Tutsi in Rwanda, the Bosniaks and the Yugoslavians in Srebenica, and just about everybody in the Middle East against everybody else and each other off and on for the last two and a half millennia or so. Wars happen because one side or the other shoots, so the other side feels justified in shooting back, and from then on you've got all the reason you need to keep killing each other till doomsday. And it is repeated here. Birds or Pigs, there is no chance for peace, no potential for compromise.

And it is more or less the entire point of this game.