An App Review: Angry Birds

Angry Birds

I feel like I don’t have to say anything else.  The game is ever so popular with all age groups. There was even an “Angry Birds” boat in the Dewey Lake Fourth of July boat parade this year where the occupants flung water balloons off the boat and had the decor of boxes falling.  It was quite amusing.  That’s beside the point, I want to take a look at this app in the learning context.  According to the Rovio website, “Angry Birds features hours of gameplay, challenging physics-based castle demolition, and lots of replay value. Each of the 120 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy.”  I think this says a lot for the development of the game because it goes into the developers mindset that perhaps the game was not meant to be addicting, where people sit around and play the game all day, or talk about it constantly and the dialogue of how someone beat a certain level.  Perhaps there was an educational intention behind this development.

Although the game is widespread in the traditional media and will most likely go down in the record books of pop culture, I’d argue that there is some legitimate reasons to integrate Angry Birds into the classroom.  According to Herrington, Herrington, and Mantei (2009), Design Principles for Mobile Learning, there are eleven major design principles when looking at the creation of a mobile learning environment.  I believe that Angry Birds fits the bill for the following principles: Real world relevance, Mobile contexts, Whenever, Wherever, Whomsoever, and Personalise.  Angry Birds provides users with the ability to have some real world application when looking at the construction of the various structures that are “under attack.” These structures are obviously not sound and hence require additional support. Additionally, as this article suggests, the birds are being “flung into the air.  Thus, providing physics teachers will real world support for their discipline and engaging the students through something they are already familiar with.  In conjunction with the real world advantages, the other five principles go hand in hand with this app being available on mobile computing devices ranging from Palm, to iPhone, to iPad, to laptop, etc. which makes the game and learning environment constantly available to any user that has access to his or her own mobile device.

Barbara Fernandes in her blog provides some excellent out of the box thinking in her integration of Angry Birds into classes that aren’t physics, but language arts with writing and reading strategies that can be deployed when working collaboratively on the game itself.  I’d like to argue that other disciplines could be included as well.  What about integrating Angry Birds into art class by drawing your own level or background for the game?  The integration is endless as long as you are creative and purposeful in your decision making.

In the creation of the many versions and “seasons” of Angry Birds, I feel as though Rovio has undergone the same user feedback and interaction as discussed by Bradley, Haynes, Cook, Boyle, and Smith in their chapter “Design and Development of Multimedia Learning Objects for Mobile Phones.” Albeit not drastic changes, changes have been made with later releases of this app, which perfects what they are working with and how they are crafting this app as fully-functional with limited down time or interruption, making the game that much more addicting to users.

Overall, Angry Birds was developed incredibly well to engage a user.  The users continue to compete for higher level advancement, more stars (by becoming more perfect and receiving a higher score), etc. It’s only time until Angry Birds and Rovio continue to advance, upgrade, and change this game into a true learning experience for all.

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