Back in the 1700s, our games were much simpler. Sometimes, they were mechanical contraptions, like a ball on the end of a string, attached to a stick (the object being to drop the ball through an accompanying ring or some other contrivance). Other times, we might occupy ourselves with a game of cards, a round of singing, flying a kite, reading, or some other diversion.
In any case, because of the demands of daily life, one usually did not have a great deal of leisure time in which to play games. So there wasn’t a need to continually invent and re-invent new pastimes.
Now, in this 21st century, there are more choices than one can even imagine, let alone learn and play. That includes assorted sports and athletic pursuits, board games, card games, puzzles… and, of course, computer games of every type and complexity.
One of the most popular ones today is a game often found on communications devices (you call them “cell phones”). It is “Angry Birds,” a game of skill in which players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs standing around or within different buildings and structures. Personally, I cannot fathom how people can sit for hours pushing buttons and watching cartoon birds contend, convort, and contort.
My question: Through this game, does one manage to reduce the anger and stress brought on by modern life, or, on the contrary, create additional difficulties? Does the frustration caused by a compulsive desire to “best” the machine actually lower one’s sense of self-esteem and accomplishment, out of regular failure to achieve higher and higher scores?
One of my other concerns is a perhaps unfounded fear that the computer code necessary to create games like this could contain malicious material that, when activated from afar, serves to accomplish some nefarious scheme such as emptying a bank account, crippling the communications networks, or spreading misinformation during a crisis situation.
A recent report from an odd gathering called the “hackers convention” alerted me to these possibilities – their guest speaker actually singled out “Angry Birds” by name as a possible vehicle for mischief.
Perhaps a new nugget of wisdom, Poor Richard’s Almanack style, would be helpful at this time: One who plays with birds had best guard against unwanted presents from the sky (or internet).
Your humble servant,