“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. John Walker quoted Einstein in the reading this week about the validity of videogame addiction. So if doing something over and over and expecting different results is by Einstein’s word “insane” – what can we say about Flappy Bird?
Flappy Bird is the latest touch-screen craze to grace us with its addictive presence (addictive in the colloquial sense). This is the type of game that makes you all fluffy inside. You see the colourful arcade graphics, complete with Mario (you can’t deny they’re from Mario Bros) transporting pipes! But all that follows from there is the agonizing pain discovering that this bird is the spawn of all-evil.
So lets break down the game. The task is simple, fly through the pipes without touching any millimeter of them. This action is allowed through a simple ‘tapping’ motion. As you progress through the side-scrolling perspective you are awarded a higher number as per the number of pipes you have been through. You may be rewarded with medals, but essentially the goal is to keep Flappy Bird happy and flapping. What makes this game unusual is the actions required. Instead of an incessant tapping, which is natural when you’re so irritated – the game requires a lot of reserve with its actions because it showcases a tempo which takes some time getting used to.
This game is unforgiving, brutal and aggravatingly frustrating. So why is it so successful? Could it be due to videogame addiction? I would probably have to argue no, but perhaps it is more related with the addictive culture surrounding games with such simple and streamline objectives. Since there is little hard-core action and flashy gimmicks, Flappy Bird can be seen for its’ goal therefore a competitive culture is able to easily grow around it. John Walker loosely describes addiction as a need for activity, where acknowledgments for self-regulation and control are necessary for keeping a level mind. Arguably, the addiction associated with Flappy Bird could be surrounded in the audiences’ pride, frustration at its one life layout, or even in competition to beat your peers. If people say they hate this game, they’re lying because they are simply just sick of losing.
Consequently, it is ironic that Dong Nguyen the creator is now taking down Flappy Bird because it ‘ruins his simple life so now he hates it’. It ruined our lives too… but I still want to know that it’s there.