The New York Times published a great article on the rise of Angry Birds among older generations. While the popularity of Angry Birds is no secret, it is surprising how our elders are embracing the game. Households all over America are incorporating Angry Birds into their Family Fun Time. Fathers and sons compete over who can get the highest scores, the most golden eggs, and unlock the new levels the fastest. While it seems harmless, and even sweet that dads are finding a new way to relate to their little ones, it should be noted that this never would have been acceptable 20 years ago. Rick Marin, author of the NYT article says of his father:
“Mine wouldn’t have known what [Donkey Kong] was. And even if he did, it would have felt like a transgression of the respect/dignity boundary that used to separate men from boys.”
Is this true? Is it possible for boys to respect (or have a healthy amount of fear for) a father that’s defeated by the evil green pigs? Marin admits that his six year old son warns him not to play Angry Birds before bed. This kind of interaction simply would not have been acceptable in previous years, and maybe with good reason.
While our parents got to hear stories about their dad’s heroism in war, kids today are left to celebrate our dad’s ability to beat level 6 with two yellow birds to spare. And while my dad spent evenings and weekends in his wood-shop building our entire house’s cabinetry, the wood-shop and the garage have given way to the “man cave” complete with game consoles. So how will this affect our children’s perceptions of us? Can we instill work ethic and maturity while our father’s are stuck in perpetual adolescence?
While my boyfriend and I have established that, if we have kids, they will be limited to one hour of media a day, my boyfriend has admitted he’s concerned about enforcing that rule, as he wants to indulge in Halo (or whatever 3d shooting nonsense will be popular at the time, Portal 20?) marathons here and there.
It is yet to be seen just how this convergence of interests will effect familial relations. In fact, a Gawker article on the same subject suggests that it may have a positive affect on families:
Then again, maybe our modern Angry Birds world is actually better in the long run for American society? Marin’s experiences suggest that our iPads are helping to erase the hierarchical structure that has defined America’s families for so long, keeping parents and children at different power levels. Now there is no difference between fathers and sons: they speak the same language, play the same games, achieve the same “Achievements,” and—most importantly—share the same addictions. Sounds pretty democratic to me.
That could be true, but if it ever comes time for me to have kids, I’ll be hiding my Angry Birds obsession diligently.