If you pull at the “realism” thread of any video game, the whole sweater tends to unravel. It would seem like an exercise in futility then to examine the verisimilitude of Angry Birds, a popular mobile game where geometrically unlikely, ill-tempered avians are slingshotted toward exploding pigs. That didn’t stop the makers of the game, however, from arranging a demonstration of the game’s authenticity that is literally out of this world.
For the launch of Angry Birds: Space, mobile game maker Rovio teamed up with NASA to teach a physics lesson from the deck of the International Space Station. In the video, flight engineer Don Pettit float-hops around a section of the ship, 242.5 nautical miles above the Earth’s surface, gathering the materials for his demonstration. These include a red plush bird doll, a green balloon with a pig’s face drawn on it, and a bungee cord.
Pettit recreates the objective of the game by using the bungee cord to turn the red bird into a projectile. Once he fires the little guy from the makeshift slingshot, we see it travel across a straight trajectory and hit a door on the other side of the room. With a further distance, though, it turns out gravity will attract an object moving in a straight line and curve its trajectory. Basically, it is the longest possible distance out of the way one could go to prove the point that in Angry Birds: Space, players have to account for a curving trajectory when firing their weird birds at eruptive pigs.