Why We Can't Stop Playing

Not since the invention of bacon and eggs has the collision of fowl and swine tasted so good.

A game called Angry Birds is dominating the best-selling-applications charts for Apple’s iPhone with a simple, whimsical premise: Players turn different species of scowling birds into projectiles with which to crush a collection of grunting pigs scattered around various ramshackle structures. More than 12 million copies of Angry Birds have been sold since it went on sale late last year, most of them 99-cent downloads for iPhones and iPod touches, according to Rovio Mobile Ltd., the Finnish company that created the game.

Why do smart people love seemingly mindless games? Angry Birds is one of the latest to join the pantheon of “casual games” that have appealed to a mass audience with a blend of addictive game play, memorable design and deft marketing. The games are designed to be played in short bursts, sometimes called “entertainment snacking” by industry executives, and there is no stigma attached to adults pulling out their mobile phones and playing in most places. Games like Angry Birds incorporate cute, warm graphics, amusing sound effects and a reward system to make players feel good.

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