The Flappy Bird Craze

By Chris Fischer

A new game has risen to the top of the charts but not with exciting game play or fun strategy, but instead with the hardest, most gut-wrenching, insanity-causing simpleness. The app description: Tap to flap your wings to fly. Avoid pipes. The game itself is nothing much. The graphics are pulled straight from a 1980’s 8-bit NES game with just three sound effects. There is no goal. There is no climax. Just the promise of frustration. And pipes, lots and lots of pipes. So then why is this game so popular, with it getting over 10,000,000 downloads on Android alone. On top of this, as of February 4th Flappy Bird is currently ranked number 1 in 88 countries for iPhone and number 1 on the iPad in 77 countries. On the Google Play Store, it is number 1 in 11 countries.

Sophomore Matt Murray's Flappy Bird high score
Sophomore Matt Murray’s Flappy Bird high score

Unfortunately for us, Flappy Bird feeds on your frustration. You start off playing one game, this will be easy. Wait, how did you hit that pipe? All you had to do was tap, but you messed up. You know you can get to the next one, it was so close. One. More. Pipe. And just to add to our insanity, there is a slight 4.2 second delay between dying and starting a new game. So no, you can’t jump right back in; you are forced to think about how you messed it all up. It’s also in those 4.2 seconds that you will decide whether you will do anything else that day. Your answer will either be turning off of your phone or a rapid spamming of the “play again” button.

Briarcliff High School’s high score belongs to Matt Murray with 224. Matt Heyda, with 170, has some advice: “Listen to music with a good beat while playing, and don’t think about.” For those of you without an Apple or Android smartphone, you can play at flappybird.com, but don’t expect to do anything even remotely productive that day. Yet although hundreds of thousands of hours have been spent tapping away, we are still left with some burning questions. Why does this bird look strangely like a fish? Will there be a new section on the Common App for your Flappy Bird high score? Or is this a plot to end the sanity of our generation, or a government conspiracy to allow Obama to control our minds?

Update: Flappy Bird has been removed from both app stores on February 9. Its maker, Dong Nguyen, tweeted that it is not related to legal issues but that he cannot take it anymore.

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