'Angry Birds' clear way for the 'Mad Cows'

You may have heard of a video game called "Angry Birds." If you haven't, the object of the game is to slingshot an angry bird and destroy a group of pigs' fortified shelter, thereby defeating the pigs. The game has been known to cause excessive distraction, sleeplessness and even addiction.

Most parents like myself would probably agree that video games possess no redeeming qualities, with the obvious exception of "Angry Birds." You see, it may be the perfect lesson in several branches of physics, including acceleration, trajectory, gravity, ballistics and explosives. It also requires that you develop the virtue of patience. Unfortunately, it can lead to addiction.

I was first made aware of the game when my son, Nolan, got an iPod last year. After he would go to bed, I would seek out the iPod and play until the wee hours of the morning, trying to improve my skills dealing with trajectories, acceleration and ballistics, of course. Have I mentioned that the game might be addictive?

I introduced the game to my wife recently when we had about six hours to kill in an airport. She took to the game immediately, hurling angry birds through the air in an effort to disrupt the tranquility of the pig utopia. She liked the game so much that she conquered every level before we got on the plane. She has yet to admit that she has a problem.

Judging by the success of the game, I've decided to develop a game to rival the "Angry Birds." It's going to be called "Mad Cows," and I'm hoping it's going to make me rich.

The object of the game will be simple: separate cows from their herd mates within the confines of a large pen. So you're not impressed? Here are the details.

Individual cattle are quite predictable in their movements and their desire to avoid people. They are so calculable that their reactions to people should be predictable with mathematical formulas similar to acceleration, trajectory and ballistics. For example, when a cow walks toward a person in an alley, she will always turn around once she gets to within a distance that is uncomfortable to her. This distance is variable between cows but their reaction is always the same.

Now, put another person behind the cow pushing her toward the first person and see what happens. The cow's action remains predictable but a little more complex. She will approach the person standing to try to get around him. And here's the object of the game. Steer the cow into the correct alley, while preventing other cows from following her.

The levels increase by adding cows, obstacles and commingling different breeds of cows. The Holstein cows are sort of like the default cow. But add in a Jersey cow for stubbornness and a Brown Swiss or two to get in the way and you have a real challenge. Throw in an ornery bull to keep everyone honest and we have a game.

OK, the game might sound silly, but in real life it really is very entertaining. It's so entertaining that I rarely turn down an opportunity to help a farmer sort cows when the need arises. But if there are any video game developers reading this now, consider the idea copyrighted. Have your people call my people (my wife); maybe we can work something out.