Next time you see somebody hunched over their laptop, staring intently at the screen and tapping away at the keyboard, you should stop and watch: it’s quite entertaining to see somebody freak when they lose a game of Robot Unicorn Attack, Marlborough’s newest video game fad.
A Flash game release by Adult Swim, Robot Unicorn Attack is a simple game in which the controller uses the arrow keys to make the unicorn jump or “dash” in order to destroy obstacles. Points are determined by how long your unicorn can keep running and the number of obstacles you destroy. On AdultSwim.com, the game has received well over 33 million plays, though it would be impossible to count how many people have actually played Robot Unicorn Attack because it is featured on many other sites, including SiriusArcadeGames. So why is this tedious game so popular?
One favorite feature of the game is its theme song, “Always,” a synthpop track by Erasure. Robot Unicorn Attack also contains special sounds and features used to enhance the gamer’s experience, including bursts of chimes that occur when you get points and a huge crash when you die, accompanied by a page with a unicorn’s severed head and virtual tears coming from its dead eyes.
Although some argue Robot Unicorn Attack is an unexciting time stealer because it only involves staring at your computer screen and moving two fingers of your left hand, others say that it’s a good pastime for adolescents.
“In my work with several private school students, it has become clear that in the rigorous academic environments, teenagers don’t often focus on ways to actively cope with stress,” said Dr. Jennifer Hughes, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at UCLA. “It seems as this game could provide a good distraction for teens who feel stressed.”
iTunes has launched a version of Robot Unicorn Attack as an iPod Touch and iPhone App, including Christmas and Heavy Metal editions, so that people can play on the go.
Although it is a good pastime and an excellent stress reliever, the fact that it’s so addicting tends to make time pass a bit too quickly. Robot Unicorn Attack is a good distraction but should be used lightly.