“BE WARNED: Insanely addictive!”
This title, belonging to one of the world’s best-selling apps “Doodle Jump”, has grabbed the attention of well over 10 million people and has helped to make the game a household name amongst users of iPhones, Blackberries, Androids and numerous other Smartphones around the world.
The “Doodle Jump” app, which was released on April 6th 2009, is a shining example of what can be achieved with a flash of ingenuity, lots of hard work and a great deal of luck. Developed by two brothers Igor and Marko Pusenjak over a period of just 3 months, much of the game’s popularity and success is owed to its simplicity.
What’s the aim of the game?
Put simply, the purpose of the game is to guide a four-legged critter called the “doodler” up an infinite set of platforms using your phone’s accelerometer to steer him left and right. Helping you on your way as you jump from platform to platform are a number of objects which provide short boosts. Jetpacks, rockets and propeller-hats will thrust your “doodler” upwards. Trampolines and simple springs may be slightly less effective, but they do add a great deal to the game’s unique charm.
Sounds easy? Well, be sure to make sure you don’t fall through a broken platform; jump into a monster; get abducted by a UFO; or get sucked into a black hole!
Once downloaded, the player can access nine different levels, each with a different theme. Switch between the spooky “Halloween” level, the underwater “Ocean” level, or the far-out “Space” levels at the touch of a button or the slide of a finger.
So what makes apps like “Doodle Jump”, and more recently “Angry Birds”, so popular?
- The Price. By charging just £0.69, Doodle Jump’s creators ensured that buying their app would not break the bank. This is a crucial marketing strategy. The vast majority of the best-selling apps on Apple’s App Store are priced at just £0.69.
- It’s addictive! Hours and days can be spent (some might say wasted!) trying to improve your best score.
- Its simplicity makes it fun for all ages and for all types of people. Lady Gaga’s dancers, for example, have been known to wear images of the “doodler” on their clothes during concerts.
- It’s a wonderful time-waster. Have you ever been bored waiting for a bus, a train, or an aeroplane? So, it would seem, have over 10 million other people.
However, we shouldn’t simply focus on the positive aspects of the world of apps. The danger that modern technology poses to young people has been well documented. We know, for example, that it is often hard to restrict what young people can access on the Internet. Or, more worryingly, who they might be talking to in Chat Rooms.
However, the rise and rise of apps has shed light on certain new issues. Namely:
1. “Are we becoming more and more antisocial as a species?”
Nowadays it is rare to catch the Underground in London, or the Metro in Paris or Barcelona, without seeing at least one person engrossed in a mobile phone app. This may seem harmless at first and some may argue that Smartphones allow us to stay in contact with friends on Facebook and other social media websites. But at what price? Do we really pay attention to the world around us any more, or are we just slaves to our mobile phones?
2. “Are we doing enough reading?”
It is undeniable that reading is a pleasure for some people but absolute torture for others. Certainly the appearance of Amazon’s Kindle and other electronic ‘e-readers’ are doing a great deal to keep the world of literature in line with the world of technology, and they are proving to be quite successful. However, in a world saturated with video games and mobile apps, it really is debatable whether or not young people are reading enough from a young age. Language, and the ability to converse, is the most obvious thing that distinguishes humans from apes and reading is the best way to develop your use of language. If mobile apps take the place of a good novel, might this have a negative effect on literacy rates?
There are many pros and cons associated with apps and their real impact remains to be seen. Their popularity, however, is undeniable, which means they’re here to stay whether you like it or not!