Persuasion, New Media Ecologies, and Some Angry Birds

I’m not a big fan of video games, but during the last break, my poor sister-in-law had to suffer as our family gradually became more and more addicted to the game “Angry Birds” on her Iphone. At the same time, as a scholar, I’m intrigued by the way in which persuasion is leveraged in digital environments. Charles Mauro has a great article breaking down the question, “why is an interface so engaging that users cannot stop interacting with it?” Moreover:

“Why is it that over 50 million individuals have downloaded this simple game? Many paid a few dollars or more for the advanced version. More compelling is the fact that not only do huge numbers download this game, they play it with such focus that the total number of hours consumed by Angry Birds players world-wide is roughly 200 million minutes a DAY, which translates into 1.2 billion hours a year. To compare, all person-hours spent creating and updating Wikipedia totals about 100 million hours over the entire life span of Wikipedia (Neiman Journalism Lab). I say these Angry Birds are clearly up to something worth looking into. Why is this seemly simple game so massively compelling? Creating truly engaging software experiences is far more complex than one might assume, even in the simplest of computer games. Here is some of the cognitive science behind why Angry Birds is a truly winning user experience.”

I think Mauro’s conclusions may have lots of applications beyond the domain of video games, perhaps in political campaigns, etc. Read on for a terrific look at how such compelling and/or totalizing experiences can be crafted here.