EXTRA CREDIT Critical Play: Theme Only Games

Now, ya’ll KNOW I had to write this critical play on Physics games… Being my favorite genre to play on mobile, this type of game uses unique gravity and physics settings that the player must learn to understand in order to complete an objective (typically hitting a target or escaping a space). I love love love physics games because they typically test your spatial awareness and reaction time ability and can even improve such skills. The games are also rather therapeutic and allow you to escape from what is going on around you; they make a BOMB distraction. Two of the most popular physics games are Cut the Rope and Angry Birds and they also just so happen to be the most recommended apps on my phone in that order. But, though they reside in the same game genre, the themes of the two games entirely change the feelings they evoke in its player and overall experience.

Cut-The-Rope cutesy themed forest scene!

As said previously, both games are low-investment and aid in providing a sense of dissociation to its player. From its character to its settings to its main premise, Cut-the-rope is an adorable game point-blank. Essentially in the game, the player’s objective is to get a piece of candy for Om Nom, a cute green monster character, so he can satisfy his hunger. While playing, you feel really one of two ways: like a failure or like a savior. When you are unable to get the candy to the precious and adorable Om Nom, you personally feel like you have failed him. When you succeed, on the other hand, you feel over the moon that you were able to feed Om Nom and make him happy. I think the cute theme of the game honestly makes Om Nom seem like a sad helpless child that needs help. NO ONE wants to see a child sad which is why the fun in the game really does come from this desire to save the cute damsel Om Nom and consequently see through this desire. 

Angry Birds map of enemy structure!

Angry Birds, on the other hand, may also be low-investment/provide an escape but its theme greatly serves to differentiate itself from Cut-the-rope and others in the physics genre. The objective of Angry Birds is to protect bird eggs to ensure a prosperous progeny; one does this by using a slingshot to sling grown birds with different powers/characteristics at a wall of evil enemy pigs. While playing angry birds, I personally feel not at ease, protective, and low-key angry at the enemy pigs. I feel like the game’s theme forges this great connection between the player, their eggs, and their birds that they temporarily see them as like a family. And, I don’t know about you, but I’d do anything for my family. For this reason, I feel like my objective is to crush the pigs no matter what. The fun in-game comes from finally crushing the pigs and ensuring the safety of your birds and eggs! I also must say that some of my pleasure comes from the cute little sound effects of pigs falling and things breaking; it makes the game all the more immersive.

Though both games rely on gravity/physics mechanics, Cut-the-rope made me feel like I was helping a little child or sibling (giving me great satisfaction when I’d fulfill the objective) while Angry Birds made me feel like I was protecting my loved ones from harm (making me defensive and wanting to win at all costs) which both prompt differing feelings between the games.



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