Popular video game adapted to satirize corruption in India
'Angry Anna' made by Indian app developers to help support Anna Hazare
Topical game took three days to make
Analyst believes adapting video games is good way to transmit social message
When Indian activist Anna Hazare last month succeeded in pushing his government to take tougher steps against political dishonesty, victory came only after he endured days on hunger strike.
But the 74-year-old ascetic may also partly have another unlikely source to thank for his victory – a computer game that carried his anti-corruption message to hundreds of thousands of people.
And while Hazare’s campaign may have brought about a watershed in India’s long battle against graft, it could mark the advent of a new era of online activism driven by interactive games created through easy-to-use software.
The computer game, “Angry Anna,” is a straightforward pastiche of “Angry Birds,” a simple yet addictive game that has become one of the most downloaded apps of all time.
Whereas the original game involves using a slingshot to fire birds at pigs, “Angry Anna” substitutes the birds for caricatures of Hazare and fellow activists Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi and the pigs for Indian politicians including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Mohammad Faisal, who co-created the game with two colleagues at his New Delhi-based development company Geek Mentors Studio, said “Angry Anna” was put together in under three days, a speed that allowed them to feed into the momentum of Hazare’s protest.
“We wanted to go to a candlelight march at (New Delhi landmark) India Gate but we were unable to because of the heavy work load in our office, so we thought, why not build a game so people can vent their frustration by sitting in an office and playing,” said Faisal.
“We didn’t expect it to be so successful.”
According to figures from GameSalad, the company whose software was used to build “Angry Anna,” the game has been played online nearly 267,000 times. Faisal believes such figures allow him and his colleagues to take some credit for Hazare’s success.
“Definitely it made some impact in India anyway,” he said.
Faisal said the key to the game’s success was the swiftness with which it was published – a speed made possible by GameSalad’s free drag-and-drop software that allows even the non-computer-language literate to build games.
Once created, the games can be published in HTML5 – the latest revision of the web’s core language – which means it can be played on almost any browser and easily broadcast around the internet, bypassing approval procedures required by outlets like Apple’s app store.
Steve Felter, CEO of GameSalad, says although “Angry Anna” pushes a specific political message, it wasn’t unexpected.
“‘Angry Anna was the first example of that of something that was able to be produced in a few days; very topical, somewhat controversial, but able to be quickly spread through social networks because everyone can access HTML5 through the browser,” he said.