Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tiny Wings and the Horror of a Death Carried out in Public

Recently I've been playing a new game on my iPhone, Tiny Wings.

It's very simple and utterly charming. An auto-runner in the long line of Cannabalt clones, it manages to distinguish itself through delightful visuals, soothing audio and a make-believe fairytale story. As the image above says, "You've always dreamed of flying - but your wings are tiny. Luckily the world is full of beautiful hills."

As I write this, Tiny Wings is on the top of the Australian iPhone charts. I could not be happier. Here is a story so beautiful in its simplicity and so elegant in its execution that I spend far more time plying it than I would it if were another run 'n' gun. Even Mirror's Edge didn't hold my attention for this long. I simply want to help that little bird fly.

I could get all sentimental and talk about how he represents the hope in us all, but you're intelligent enough to come to those conclusions on your own. One thing has struck me as odd, however, and when I thought of it today, I burst out laughing in the middle of a very serious conversation.

What if that bird is a jerk?

We always assume that people with dreams are nice people, especially people with unachievable dreams. I automatically assumed the bird keeps trying every day because he's optimistic that this time, this time, he'll make it. What if he's just dumb?

But, really, I'm playing Devil's Advocate here. I love the idea of an optimistic bird who doesn't know his dream can't come true, and so makes it come true in bits and pieces. It's endearing, and it makes me want to help, which is a good marketing strategy indeed.

Thinking about jerks, however, got me to thinking about Ugly Betty. I've recently been watching Season 2 and (spoiler alert), just finished the episode where Bradford has a heart attack. It's bad enough that he's getting married at the time, but the part that really made my heartstrings twang was that the fact that the entire process of Daniel trying to revive his father was televised. I don't mean simply because it's part of a TV show - within the show, the wedding was being televised, and so was Bradford's heart attack.

Watching someone try to save a loved one's life is chilling. I've seen it once, and I never want to again. All credit to Ugly Betty, but they got it right. Horribly right. As soul-destroyingly, gut-wrenchingly right as can be. And this is why I love the show. The drama gets too much for me a lot of the time, but amongst all the jokes and purely stupid moments are glimmers of pure humanity. I've never seen a TV show bring it across so clearly. I just wish most of their moments of humanity didn't bring me to tears.