The Artist Behind the Game

The Videogame

Angry Birds is a videogame that was initially released in December of 2009 by the Finnish videogame developers, Rovio Entertainment. Since its release, the game has become widely popular and along with a number of different versions, sequels, and spinoffs to the series the franchise  released an animated film, by the same name, in 2016. The videogame follows a variety of wingless birds out to destroy their piggy enemies and reclaim their eggs. In the game, the player uses a slingshot to launch the colorful birds with their unique abilities at the green pigs’ various structures to destroy all on the field. As the player progresses through the stages, new birds are introduced with different special abilities along with a variety of new obstacles.

Who is the artist behind the successful videogame series?
Jaakko Iisalo, Rovio’s head videogame designer

Jaakko Iisalo, a videogame designer, was the sole designer at Rovio Entertainment in 2009 and had pressure to create a new game. Iisalo had the idea for a game where a flock of aggressive birds went around destroying everything. As the concept for the game was being developed, the initial design for the birds were created_ round, wingless, colorful birds with angry eyebrows_ including the basic concept for the slingshot and structured demolition design. When the antagonists of the game were being created, Iisalo used the design of a pig, which he had been drawing since he was ten years old (Stuart).  As the popularity of the game rose and the series extended, the design team for the game expanded. However, despite the growing, Jaakko Iisalo is the designer and artist behind Angry Birds.

Screenshot from Angry Birds.


Why is identifying Jaakko Iisalo as the artist important?

Understanding what makes Jaakko Iisalo the artist behind the game comes with a sense of further understanding of the videogame. Scholars Hunicke, LeBlanc, and Zubeck present the M.D.A. (Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics) framework to explain how, “[w]hen working with games, it is helpful to consider both the designer and player perspectives… [to] observe how even small changes in one layer can cascade into others” (Hunicke).

Designer   —————>

Mechanics      Dynamics      Aesthetics

<—————   Player 

Grasping how Iisalo, as the artist and designer, understands the videogame explains how the game was designed and what is  its intended purpose.  Iisalo as the artist of the game, had an intention for the game’s structure and design; all the aspects including the objectives, the visuals and designs of the characters, and so on. In understanding the differences between the intentions of the designer and the perception of the player, one is also able to understand the art in the design of the videogame. When one is able to understand “how formal decisions about gameplay impact the end user experience, we are able to better decompose that experience, and use it to fuel new designs, research and criticism respectively” (Hunicke). The artist influences the game and supplies a perspective that differs and influences that of the player.


Hunicke, Robin, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek. "A Formal Approach to Game Design 
	and Game Research."
Stuart, Keith. "How we made Angry Birds." The Guardian (23 February 2016).



5 thoughts on “The Artist Behind the Game

  1. Very good job with arguing that understanding a singular person as artist is important for understanding the way that MDA works. Process of game development vs. sociology of art. Good job all around.


  2. I would also agree that your approach in identifying the artist was done very well. It is very concise and clear. I personally played angry birds for a bit when it came out because of how simple and fun it was. I did really like your picture that displays the tiers of game and where each person belongs on the hierarchy.


  3. Presenting the game as though no one has played it really hooked me in with that specific rhetoric. I really appreciate how deep you went into the game development and whether or not that would be grounds to call it “art”


  4. I used to love this game and Flappy Bird a lot during the time! But This was a very good break down of the artist, I felt it wasn’t so passively about the description and more with the prompt of the blog which was great all over good content


  5. I really like the how you use the concept of MDA to explain what the author’s intention for the game are but I feel like you could expand a little more on the player’s experience. For example like using the fact how sometimes video games are proven to improve cognitive functions, is that what the author had in mind for this game or did he make it only for entertainment purposes only? What did you feel when you were playing the game? Were there certain features that stuck out to you? do you think the author intended for theses features to stick out? Otherwise, I enjoyed reading your I personally used to love playing angry birds, in fact I re-downloaded the game on my phone after reading your blog.


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