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April 4, 2012 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Angry Birds, Farmville and Other Hyperaddictive ‘Stupid Games.' Does what it says on the box: plus, cute space ship graphics and exploding comments.

Hopefully you can view this without registering or paying. Apologies in advance for anyone who can't.
posted by Stagger Lee (58 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Link works for me and I've never paid them before, just fyi.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:00 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is this box, and where does it say it?
posted by crunchland at 1:01 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Holy Crap there's a spaceship and it's playable!
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:01 PM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


OMG it goes outside the box! I can shoot the Goldman Sachs link and make it blow up! Awesome sauce!
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:02 PM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Every newspaper should enable this feature for their comment sections.
posted by The White Hat at 1:04 PM on April 4, 2012 [32 favorites]


Brilliant.
posted by gurple at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2012


The only good part of this article is the interview with Zach Gage (of SpellTower fame), which is buried in the middle three pages. You can safely skip the rest of it.
posted by aparrish at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, and he got what sounds like MAME running on a mac .. Which is impressive, unless a clueless NYT reporter was glitzing it up.
posted by k5.user at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2012


Article: 3/10
Javascript game: 10/10 AWESOME

Monopoly, for instance, makes perfect sense as a product of the 1930s — it allowed anyone, in the middle of the Depression, to play at being a tycoon.

Monopoly was created in 1904, and was intended to illustrate how much it sucks to not be the tycoon. You know the horrible death spiral that drags on for hours as your kid forces you to mortgage all of your earthly possessions? That was the point of the game. Sigh, New York Times.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2012 [31 favorites]


"Stupid" games? No editorializing going on here, no siree.

And if Anderson genuinely thinks that simple, low-commitment, quick-reward, addictive single-player games are a new artifact of the digital age, he's never played solitaire.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:12 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


More than anything in the entire world I wish the game thingy was enabled on the election section. It would be the ultimate in bipartisan fulfillment.
posted by elizardbits at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2012


OK, that was the MOST FUN I ever had with the New York Times!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


k5.user i thought macmame has been around for a hella long time?

this article is interesting to me 'cuz it's nyt looking at an indie games dude. the conclusions seem a little off somehow, and maybe i am too inside the world of vidya gaem but it seems like farmville etc are kinda different than tetris

oh well
posted by beefetish at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had to google mame mac to see. I saw a lot of recent forum hits that indicated macmame is no longer updated, and everything else lacks a useable front end (to a mac sdl mame port).

Thus, I'm curious if he's really running mame on a mac, or just using a nice mac monitor in his mame cabinet, and commodity x86 box underneath.
posted by k5.user at 1:20 PM on April 4, 2012


The choice of Tetris as the starting point for these types of video games is a little odd to me. Almost every arcade game and most of the early console games were designed to be "casual" games as we call them today. You could start playing without any sort of tutorial and instruction and most plays lasted for a relatively short period of time. And a lot of times arcade games were in places where you could casually just play them, like at a pizza place or laundromat. If anything the "normal" games of today are more new and unusual, a game that requires 40 hours to play and tells a cinematic story is a lot more of a strange film/simulation/game hybrid than what was traditionally thought of as a game until relatively recently.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:20 PM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


The choice of Tetris as the starting point for these types of video games is a little odd to me. Almost every arcade game and most of the early console games were designed to be "casual" games as we call them today.

It's because before Tetris, video games were the domain of children and young men (arcade goers). When Tetris became popular, it was as a home game, and one of the first games that the "non-gamers" became addicted to.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This bookmarklet lets you destroy any page in a similar, Asteroidsy manner.
posted by sklero at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2012


Ball, I borked the link. Here.
posted by sklero at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Balls.
posted by sklero at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


"And if Anderson genuinely thinks that simple, low-commitment, quick-reward, addictive single-player games are a new artifact of the digital age, he's never played solitaire."

From the article:

Humans have always played stupid games. Dice are older than recorded history. Ancient Egyptians played a board game called Senet, which archaeologists believe was something like sacred backgammon. We have rock-paper-scissors, tick-tack-toe, checkers, dominoes and solitaire — small, abstract games in which sets of simple rules play out in increasingly complex scenarios.
posted by spacewaitress at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Totally lost me on the "Tetris = Stupid Game" foundation of the article. Stupid sensationalist garbage. Tetris is fast and addictive and frenetic, but is by no means a stupid game. So says me, level 25 ass-whooper on Tetris Battle on Facebook :)
posted by aydeejones at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]




It's because before Tetris, video games were the domain of children and young men (arcade goers). When Tetris became popular, it was as a home game, and one of the first games that the "non-gamers" became addicted to

The concept of "gamer" didn't really exist back then though. A game like Pac-Man was popular across all age groups back then in roughly the same way that Angry Birds is today. More children and teenagers played games in the arcade classics era, but it was the same way in '89 or even today. Plenty of adults play Angry Birds but it's even more popular with kids. The main reason it's probably seen as more "adult" is that it's primarily played on smart phones rather than a game console, but that doesn't have anything to do with what it is as a game itself. And Tetris is mainly as well known as it is in the US today because it was bundled with the original Gameboy which was one of the most popular handheld game systems of all time, but I would guess that a lower number of adults owned and played Gameboys when it was popular than played Pac-Man when it was popular.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are some obvious issues here. From the first page:

Monopoly, for instance, makes perfect sense as a product of the 1930s — it allowed anyone, in the middle of the Depression, to play at being a tycoon.


That shows some poor assumptions about the origin of the game. Just because it feels right, doesn't mean it shouldn't get fact-checked anyway.

But it's worth it for the cutesy spaceships, IMHO.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


k5.user i think it would be an entirely different probably better article about video games that would give us that answer
posted by beefetish at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2012


this article is interesting to me 'cuz it's nyt looking at an indie games dude. the conclusions seem a little off somehow

Welcome to mainstream journalism's reaction to video games since the mid-80s.

On overeducated_alligator's comment about games being for kids and young men before Tetris, he might not have been around for the ten-or-so years that arcade gaming was a popular general audience thing, 1974-1983.

And no, Tetris is not a stupid game. Neither is Angry Birds, which has its faults but is a legitimate game at least. What games are stupid are social games like Farmville, which have no real way to do badly, they're just things to watch and click on periodically.
posted by JHarris at 1:54 PM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


jharris yeah, but now mainstream journalism is reacting to indie games developers and isn't this going to be spectacular fun
posted by beefetish at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2012


What are some non-stupid games you guys enjoy on iPhone/iPad/Computer?

Personally I'm a fan of Seven Little Words, where you try to concatenate strings of letters to make hinted words.
posted by Strass at 2:04 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got up to like 1860 points, blowing up all the destructable stuff I could find, but then realized I can make popup "press esc to quit" things show up and blow them up for points as many times as I wanted, and quit.

I didn't finish reading the article and I wasn't allowed to blow it up.
posted by aubilenon at 2:08 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Didn't read the article, but I got 2370 points without cheating like aubilenon.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:14 PM on April 4, 2012


That was really cool, but once you finish destroying everything on the page, the little missiles start shooting off the screen and into the real world, so be careful. I just lost a pretty nice lamp.
posted by orme at 2:14 PM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Not a lot of insights in the article; but being able to blast everything on the page pretty much made my day, so I give them kudos.
posted by missix at 2:19 PM on April 4, 2012


Quell is a non stupid game puzzle game. Also I like the brain building games from luminosity.com, who have an android app that I can play on my kindle fire or phone. But really, Angry Birds is fun and i have no guilt whatsoever in playing it sometimes.
posted by dave78981 at 2:19 PM on April 4, 2012


2470, no cheating.
posted by maudlin at 2:25 PM on April 4, 2012


And it's not "Little Wings", it's "Tiny Wings".
posted by maudlin at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2012


Is it cheating to click "load more comments" before you start?
posted by aubilenon at 2:46 PM on April 4, 2012


I could say "Yes", but I'd hate to appear comments-negative.
posted by maudlin at 3:21 PM on April 4, 2012


I hate the connotations that come with the "stupid" vs "smart" choices of terminology, and the author appears to be carrying some of the "VIDEO GAMES ARE FOR KIDZZZZZZ" baggage that I also hate... But I found this really interesting overall, even beyond just the stuff about the guy who made Spell Tower, which is the highlight. (Spell Tower is a great game by the way.)

That said, while I hate his choice of words for it, I do think there's quite a bit of difference between games that are meant to be consumed as the main source of your attention for long stretches of time, and games that are meant to be played interstitially during down-time moments in your day. And that there's a gulf between those and the sorts of things like Farmville, where it's a more naked attempt to just... hit known psychological buttons and keep you addicted even without the feeling of fun or accomplishment that I normally associate with games.

It's interesting reading someone struggle with this stuff, even if it's someone who seems more than a bit disconnected from gaming (at least as a cultural thing). I just wish he'd thought a little more carefully about his choice of terminology.

Good read overall though.
posted by sparkletone at 3:35 PM on April 4, 2012


*reads article*
*has an idea*
*adds it to her file of casual game ideas*

*eyes stencyl*
posted by egypturnash at 3:58 PM on April 4, 2012


A casual gamer in the asteroids era plopped down $10 in quarters at the arcade over a few hours on Saturday afternoon. A gamer during the asteroids era plopped down one quarter and played all afternoon.

When combat games like mortal combat and street fighter emerged, casual gamers stood in line to play. The gamer ran the machine and trounced all comers. Watching a gamer vs gamer match took generally the full length of the match, and you would always see a combo you had never seen before.

What is funny, is now the idea seems to be that hardcore gamers of casual games plop down real cash for in game advantages and actual casual gamers don't pay for them and take much longer to succeed.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:25 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got 3060, I think I've run out of things to shoot...

Most fun I've had on NYTimes.com in a long while...
posted by pupdog at 4:35 PM on April 4, 2012


And it's not "Little Wings", it's "Tiny Wings"...

Okay.
posted by ovvl at 4:39 PM on April 4, 2012


What are some non-stupid games you guys enjoy on iPhone/iPad/Computer?

DETECTED EXCUSE TO GO ON ENTHUSIASTIC TEAR, INITIATING GUSH PROTOCOL

Well...

Tiny Wings, Goat Up, Pac-Man CE, King of Dragon Pass, Sword and Sworcery, Frotz, Sid Meier's Pirates, Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, Civilization Revolution (when it's decided not to be crashy), Pinball Arcade, and 100 Rogues. For board games: PuzzleManiak, Puerto Rico HD, Small World, Caylus, Dominion (the card game), Forbidden Isle, Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne.
posted by JHarris at 4:39 PM on April 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Er, those are iPad things. Computer is a much longer list that, when you add in emulators, covers nearly the whole history of electronic entertainment.
posted by JHarris at 4:41 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Make that 3080 - can't believe I just spent 10 minutes doing that...

Maybe the NYTimes has figured out how to gamify themselves - I DID read the complete article after all.

Also, I don;t have a game problem. Unless it's Cannabalt. Or maybe Angry Birds, in the right mood. Or Bejewelled. Maybe Peggle.

Oh lord. I need help...
posted by pupdog at 4:42 PM on April 4, 2012


One tiny masterpiece, Plants vs. Zombies, ate up, I’m going to guess, a full “Anna Karenina” of my leisure time.

For all the article's factual errors, the author really got to that guilty feeling I get when I get stuck in yet another Bejewelled Time Suck - there could be clearly more intellectually rewarding I could be doing. I could be reading a book - I love books - but ... another round of Blitz, please.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:56 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Article: 3/10
Javascript game: 10/10 AWESOME


The NYT multimedia guy built that game off of Kick Ass. A bit of background.
posted by ignignokt at 5:08 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every newspaper should enable this feature for their comment sections.

Screw that. MetaFilter needs it for our comments. We could make it a whole new interface for favorites & flags. Eat hot death, Meatbomb! I'm gunning for you, cortex!
posted by scalefree at 5:28 PM on April 4, 2012


I came here to point out that most often when people talk about "stupid" games or games that "aren't really games," what they REALLY mean is "games that are played primarily by women."

But then I clicked through to the article and now all I can say is OH MY GAWWWWWD I LOVE IT SO MUCH THAT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER!

Except that the mechanics for the "coasting" action are kind of a drag. (PHYSICS PUN Y'ALL.)
posted by ErikaB at 8:31 PM on April 4, 2012


Well, it'll make up for the Katamari Damacy browser hack going dark. For a little while.
posted by JHarris at 8:48 PM on April 4, 2012


I don't really think angry birds is really a "dumb game" Getting 3 stars in a set of levels actually takes a lot of patience, planning and experimentation.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The in-game physics of angry birds is ingenious.
posted by Renoroc at 7:19 AM on April 5, 2012


From the article: "Monopoly, for instance, makes perfect sense as a product of the 1930s — it allowed anyone, in the middle of the Depression, to play at being a tycoon."

qxntpqbbbqxl: Monopoly was created in 1904, and was intended to illustrate how much it sucks to not be the tycoon. You know the horrible death spiral that drags on for hours as your kid forces you to mortgage all of your earthly possessions? That was the point of the game. Sigh, New York Times.

Stagger Lee: Some poor assumptions about the origin of the game. Just because it feels right, doesn't mean it shouldn't get fact-checked anyway.

I like to snark about the NYT and their shoddy journalism as much as the next man, but if you're going to go there, at least get your facts right.

Monopoly was indeed a product of the 1930s – it evolved out of The Landlord's Game, which was invented in 1903 but not published until 1906, and, with various amendments, wasn't much more than an academic/teaching aid for much of the next 25 years, aside from local variants which people taught friends and neighbours. It didn't evolved/mutate into Monopoly until the late 20s/early 30s, and didn't take off as a major commercial concern until being licenced, in 1935, by Parker Brothers, who had been rejecting various iterations of The Landlord's Game since as far back as 1910. It's not as if this is difficult to check.
posted by Len at 12:13 PM on April 5, 2012


Len:
Well in fact it's only recently become common knowledge that there were versions of the game before Charles Darrow's. Part of this is because of first Parker Brother's then Hasbro's mythologizing the man as the game's creator, calling him the first millionaire game designer, etc., which information for a while was included with every copy of the game.
posted by JHarris at 12:29 PM on April 5, 2012


Speaking of SpellTower, it's getting a multiplayer mode tomorrow.
posted by sparkletone at 2:05 PM on April 5, 2012


"In 2011, Rovio’s chief executive claimed that Angry Birds players were spending 200 million minutes inside the game every day"

Productive. But hey, i've heard a lot of people say that Steve Jobs was the most influential person in the last century (ha!), maybe they're right!
posted by palbo at 3:25 PM on April 5, 2012


Game-studies scholars (there are such things) like to point out that games tend to reflect the societies in which they are created and played. Monopoly, for instance, makes perfect sense as a product of the 1930s — it allowed anyone, in the middle of the Depression, to play at being a tycoon. Risk, released in the 1950s, is a stunningly literal expression of cold-war realpolitik. Twister is the translation, onto a game board, of the mid-1960s sexual revolution. One critic called it “sex in a box.”

What, then, does the premise of Angry Birds say about modern society?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:51 AM on April 6, 2012


His terminology throws off what's otherwise a pretty solid article about, what these should be called, which is "casual games". I guess that casual games doesn't really sell paper like the moral panic-y "stupid games".

Anyway, in relation to his last point that brings in McGonical and her serious game utopia, I like Ian Bogost's take on this phenomena, which is that games are becoming domesticated, much in the same way that motion pictures are now used as everything from traditional movies to selling potato chips.

The mobile phone architecture that supports casual gaming breaks the magic circle of gaming more effectively than many other innovations that have come before: you can be playing a game just by having a GPS enabled computer in your pocket. Real life suddenly has a sophisticated feedback device that can take any number of input in real time and incorporate it in to game rules.

It's inevitable (and perhaps frightening, if you follow the dystopic viewpoint) that games will become more and more a part of our lives, just as you see hundreds of motion picture products in a day.
posted by codacorolla at 3:29 PM on April 6, 2012


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