Behind The Scenes Of Angry Birds
Most people will have heard of the Angry Birds game. However, less well known is how far this little game about flinging birds at pigs has gone and the good it’s done in the lives of families.
I recently visited Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds, at its Helsinki office in Finland. Whilst there I discovered there is much more to the Angry Birds story than just selling a lot of apps.
Whether you have a child who wants to get into the game industry or want to understand more about how games develop and extend into other parts of life, these interviews offer insight into how that all works behind the scenes.
I first spoke to Steve Porter and Kai Torstila at Rovio. They are responsible for the marketing and brand of the game. This includes some stories about how Angry Birds ended up going into space and creating an education centre at the Kennedy Space Station as well as a series of videos about the physics of space travel.
They also told me about an activity in partnership with The White House where they set up activities for families on the lawn. Then there was the work they’ve done with the Royal Foundation and a project with Prince Willian to highlight the plight of the Pengolins.
I then spoke to Toni Kysenuis, Art Director for Angry Birds, about the skills you need to get into video game art and graphic design. He gives an inside history of his time at Rovio and how the Angry Birds characters have changed over the years.
More interestingly for parents, he also offers advice on how a child can get into creating art and designs for video games. “Every single game artist carries a visual library with them, where ever they go. I always carry a sketchpad and pencils, when I travel. Because I can quickly sketch out ideas.”
His message was clear. If your passage is to get into video game art, you need to make time to draw and create all the time. Develop that visual identity in what you create and it will find a home in a future job — which could well be as part of a multi-skilled team making a game.
I also spoke to Simo Hamalainan, Rovio Brand Licensing and Antii Meriluoto, Rovio Creative Director. They outlined how Rovio had taken Angry Birds from a game to be a wider household name. From Lego to Star Wars and Transformers, they explained how these collaborations help a brand extend itself from the toy to the video game world.
Running through all this, Simon and Antii kept coming back to the central theme of storytelling and narrative. Rather than having strict rules about their brand, they instead offer narrative guidelines to enable internal developers and partners to use their creativity to take things in new directions.
“They’re called Angry Birds, but really they’re not that angry. It’s more about using anger for good and pointing that in the right direction.”
After my visit I came away not only with a better understanding of Angry Birds, but how companies like Rovio work to entertain children and old players in lots of different ways. Video games are not only exciting because of their interactivity but because they are a business that continually innovates on what it has to offer to players.
For parents, understanding this ensures you can guide your family to get the most out of the games (and toys and collectables) that they play.