By Jane C and Lisa
Taken from us too soon. Like a shooting star, your beauty was fleeting and rare and your memory forever in our hearts.
Chances are, you probably know Flappy Bird. You probably have a friend to blame for your addiction, frustration, and existential angst. Although Flappy Bird caused us pain, it brought us some sick, sad joy, the several million of us sitting with our faces contorted in rage, tapping frantically, losing our minds over a chubby, clumsy, 8-bit bird. We were in it together, tapping until the very end. On Saturday, Flappy Bird’s creator, Dong Nguyen, in a bizarre, rapid turn of events decided to take the game down. And we need to talk about it.
Flappy Bird and I (hi, Jane here!) got off to a rocky start, and our conflict will likely remain unresolved. There will never be closure. Flappy Bird, for me, was a huge emotional investment with little emotional payoff. The game was non-rewarding. I had a high score of 36, a score that I’ll probably never reach again, and nothing but a small gold medal to show for it. But in the grand scheme of things, achieving a score of 36 is really no different than getting 7 (my high score for a long time). Flappy Bird doesn’t get new wings when you pass 5, encounter new obstacles when you pass 15, become any more graceful of an aviator after 800. Flappy Bird just frustrates you. Forever. The only real reason to keep going is because after 36, there’s 37. Flappy Bird is pointless, an excuse to shout expletives in quiet rooms at best. But for some reason, maybe for that reason alone, it’s fun.
If you’re not playing Flappy Bird, chances are you’re probably talking about it. Saying things like “WTF IS FLAPPY BIRD WHY IS EVERYONE PLAYING IT AND WHY IS EVERYONE SO MAD?” Flappy Bird is a single-player game by design, but because of its rapid explosion on social media, immediate success, and seemingly ubiquitous presence, it’s almost social. My friends and I (now it’s me, Lisa!) discuss our (very low) high scores and vent our frustrations about the game. Even if three or four of us are sitting together and playing the game on our individual devices, we aren’t doing it silently. It’s a group activity no doubt. Yes, Flappy Bird is yet another thing that will have you glued to your phone… But it’s not as antisocial as other popular apps or games. Honestly, I don’t think I’d still be playing Flappy Bird if I thought I was the only one: the game is at most an amusing diversion for about five minutes if you don’t have anyone to share your frustration with. When you do, Flappy Bird takes on a whole new significance, and becomes far more fun.
And like all of life’s great pleasures, as just as soon as Flappy Bird was given to us, it was taken away. All too soon. A whirlwind romance leaving us high and dry, searching for answers and comfort in crisis. It was recently announced that the game’s creator plans to remove Flappy Bird from the App Store, despite the fact that it was the number one app for both Apple and Android and was bringing him about $50,000 a day. (Cue gasps). Nguyen tweeted that “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.” I think we can all relate (our successes being our high scores… unless you’ve developed a #1 app! Bravo! I hope it didn’t ruin your life). In spite of this man’s quest to save us all from ourselves and his game, he’s also the creator of the game Super Ball Juggling. Nguyen what are you dooooing to us. It’s free on iTunes and it looks just as frustrating and entertaining as Flappy Bird. I haven’t played yet, but I’ll download it in the name of proper investigative reporting.
For now, we’ll continue to mourn Flappy Bird, the ba(n)e of our existence.