The concept of “Flappy Bird” seems simple: tap the screen to make the bird fly while simultaneously maneuvering it through a series of differently sized “Super Mario”-like green pipes. If the bird touches a pipe, it’s game over. Sounds easy, right?
Wrong. With even the slightest nick of a pipe, the bird falls straight to the ground, instantly aggravating the player. The game keeps track of players’ high score, causing them to try and beat it each time they open the app.
Which is why “Flappy Bird” throws your life for a loop. The phrase, “one more try,” starts to become a common excuse to say when your friends tell you to stop playing so much. Trying to beat your high score becomes a problem, as you are no longer completing your homework.
The problem turns into an obsession as you refrain from social interaction by sitting in the bathroom between classes, a new high score on the horizon. The obsession becomes an addiction as you lay in your bed under the covers playing at 1 a.m., your eyes red from sleep deprivation (or from the fact that you haven’t showered in three days and the smell is getting to you).
But you have almost beaten your high score, so none of that really matters. Eventually you reach a new high score of about 101 and figure you life’s work is complete, thus ending your addiction. Sound familiar?
“Flappy Bird” is a relatively new phenomenon. The game was put into the App store last May but did not become well known until about last December. In January the game became the number one most downloaded app in the world for the iPhone. According to Forbes, in-app advertising made creator Dong Nguyen about $50,000 daily.
“Flappy Bird” took the Twitter-verse by storm with parody accounts like “Flappy Bird Problems,” which posts tweets such as, “Retweet if you spend more time playing flappy bird than doing your homework,” or “Don’t cry over spilt milk. But it’s fine to cry over ‘Flappy Bird.’”
I have a love-hate relationship with “Flappy Bird.” I enjoy the 1990s graphics, but I wish the bird would give me a little more expression. I think it should show me a smile when I fly far instead of simply falling to the ground lifeless, or even look a little nervous when I near a pipe to caution me. I like that the app keeps track of the score as you move, a feature that enables me to build up my excitement as I near a new high score. At the same time, I hate that the game keeps score because I always have to get farther than I did last time. I just have to, or else I won’t be satisfied.
Despite the game’s incredible success and popularity, Nguyen recently took “Flappy Bird” off the app market. According to an interview the creator had with Forbes he said, “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed.” When he realized how the app was affecting people, he had to do something about it. “To solve that problem, it’s best to take down ‘Flappy Bird.’ It’s gone forever.”
Technically, the game is not “gone forever.” It may be gone from app stores but players that previously downloaded ‘Flappy Bird’ on their devices still have access the game.
It would seem like the people who have not downloaded “Flappy Bird” are out of luck, but there is a way for them to get their hands on the game. iPhones with the downloaded app are now up for bid on eBay. Some phones are selling from a reasonable price of around $60, while other phones are selling at around $9,500 or higher. If you consider selling your device with “Flappy Bird,” it could pay for a semester of college. Or instead, wait around to see what the next big phenomenon will be.