Why the birds are angry

Listen up, Glenn Beck: Angry Birds is a socialist analogy

Late one night, while hurling animated birds at a fortress containing smug little green pigs, I began to wonder if "Angry Birds" - the smart phone game that's sold over two million copies - could be seen as a socialist analogy.

For those who haven't played Angry Birds, the premise of the game is this: malevolent pigs have stolen all of the birds' eggs and barricaded themselves in wonky citadels, in preparation for inevitable avian retribution. The player's goal is to catapult (understandably) "angry" birds at these structures, in order to topple them, kill the pigs and reclaim their eggs.

I Googled "Angry Birds socialism", to see what the internet had to say about it. The first result was an article on tech news site TG Daily about ranting US radio show host and Tea Partyist Glenn Beck linking the game to the far-left.

“Ah", I thought, "Glenn Beck denounces Angry Birds as socialist propaganda. How like him". Then I read the article properly. Beck wasn't condemning Angry Birds, he was using it for his own means. According to Beck, the birds represent the "wealthiest one per cent of society". The pigs are the "mooching" poor, who have stolen the rich birds' hard-earned eggs. This logic is completely upside-down. Beck has tried to claim Angry Birds for the right and it's now my personal mission claim my favourite iPhone game for the left.

First things first. The birds aren't rich bankers and businessmen, they're disgruntled workers. Birds don't "earn" eggs, as Glenn Beck's warped logic would have you think, they make them. The eggs represent the worker birds' industrial output, the profits of which have been harvested by the capitalist pigs (could this be any more obvious?).

What's more, although the birds come in several different colours, the original bird is red. Coincidence? And it's also interesting that the capitalist pigs happen to be green - the colour of (cue drum roll) the US dollar.

And as if all this weren't enough to set the player's political compass twitching, some of the pigs wear soldiers' helmets and even crowns. None of the birds have helmets. They're a ragged band of unarmed freedom fighters. And the crowns? Could this possibly be a more blatant anti-monarchical message?

So, Mr Beck, you can spit all the bile you like about liberalism. You can foam at the mouth about gay marriage and abortion. But Angry Birds belongs to the left and there's nothing you can do about it.


Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Kyle Seeley
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For emotional value, Emily is Away – a nostalgic instant messaging game – is this year’s best release

If you want to express your lingering teenage angst, there’s no better option.

Every now and then, a game is released that goes beyond what it may look or sound like. It goes straight to the pit of your insides where you thought you had no soul left, and jolts you back to life. Or at least it attempts to. This year, it's Emily is Away.

Firstly, anyone and everyone can virtually play this thing as it’s a crude Windows XP simulator displaying an AIM/MSN messenger client and can run on the PC equivalent of a potato. And it's free. It’s a short game, taking about 30 minutes, in which you play a person chatting away to your friend called Emily (who could be more), choosing from a set list of pre-selected instant messages.

Each chapter takes place in a different year, starting in 2002 and ending in 2006.

You’re instantly smacked with nostalgia thanks to the user screen of Windows XP and a fuzzed out background of Bliss, which was the default wallpaper in the operating system, and probably the most widely seen photo in the world. And your ears aren’t abandoned either, with the upbeat pinging sounds reminiscent of how you used to natter away with your personal favourite into the early hours.

The first chapter starts with you and Emily reaching the end of your last year in high school, talking about plans for the evening, but also the future, such as what you’ll be studying at university. From this early point, the seeds of the future are already being sewn.

For example, Emily mentions how Brad is annoying her in another window on her computer, but you’re both too occupied about agreeing to go to a party that night. The following year, you learn that Brad is now in fact her boyfriend, because he decided to share how he felt about Emily while you were too shy and keeping your feelings hidden.

What’s so excellent about the game is that it can be whatever you wish. Retro games used the lack of visual detail to their advantage, allowing the players to fill in the blanks. The yearly gaps in this game do exactly the same job, making you long to go back in time, even if you haven't yet reached the age of 20 in the game.

Or it lets you forget about it entirely and move on, not knowing exactly what had happened with you and Emily as your brain starts to create the familiar fog of a faded memory.

Despite having the choice to respond to Emily’s IMs in three different ways each time, your digital self tries to sweeten the messages with emoticons, but they’re always automatically deleted, the same way bad spelling is corrected in the game too. We all know that to truly to take the risk and try and move a friendship to another level, emoticons are the digital equivalent to cheesy real-life gestures, and essential to trying to win someone’s heart.

Before you know it, your emotions are heavily invested in the game and you’re always left wondering what Emily wanted to say when the game shows that she’s deleting as well as typing in the messenger. You end up not even caring that she likes Coldplay and Muse – passions reflected in her profile picture and use of their lyrics. She also likes Snow Patrol. How much can you tolerate Chasing Cars, really?

The user reviews on Steam are very positive, despite many complaining you end up being “friend-zoned” by Emily, and one review simply calling it “Rejection Simulator 2015”.

I tried so hard from all of the options to create the perfect Em & Em. But whatever you decide, Emily will always give you the #feels, and you’ll constantly end up thinking about what else you could have done.