Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird, for those of you who don’t know, was a smartphone game where users had to try and get a bird through as many obstacles as possible. I say had, as the app has been removed from the iTunes and Google Play – more on that later. I’m not sure I can really explain it much better than that, so take a look at this video to see it in action.

As you can see people take this game pretty seriously. The chap says how he has been playing it for about a week and that “it has totally consumed [his] life“. I tried the game on a friends phone and sensing that it was something that I was likely to get addicted to I decided not to install it myself. I am very glad I made that decision. In fact I have decided to take a total detox from all smartphone and tablet apps recently, and it really does feel great.

A screenshop of the Flappy Bird appUsually I install an app when I have some time to kill, but after a while, I seem to be wasting far too much time on pointless apps. I took a step back and saw that playing games such as Flappy Bird was just a waste of my time. This article is not asking you to stop using apps, but I do want to make people think.

I want to make people think, much in the same way that I suspect Dong Nguyen wants to make people think. Dong Nguyen was the creator of Flappy Bird and despite the fact that some sources report the game to have been earning around $50,000 per day in ad revenues, he took it down. The game was very addictive and didn’t really add any value to the lives of players. If anything, for many it just caused a lot of stress and aggravation.

Anyone who downloaded the game still has it, but if they uninstall it it is gone forever. Some people are selling their handsets with the game still installed on it, although many manufacturers advise against this on privacy grounds.

What I want to know – in the comments below – is what are your opinions? Was the developer right to remove the game? As a society are we getting more addicted to such games? If so, how are they affecting culture – or are they just a bit of harmless fun?

Oh and folks, please don’t go taking a hammer to your phone. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Flappy Bird

  1. Here you have touched upon a question that is very close to my interests Christopher. If we look at the history of modern times we find many examples of corporations exploiting addiction. Look at cigarettes for example, or gambling and alcohol.
    The moral question of right and wrong is difficult to answer in all of these cases. Are cigarette companies right when they market tobacco to developing countries? Is strong cider a good for society? Can a video or phone game be addictive anyway? Don’t I have the right to be addicted? What about the Facebook and twitter world? Many millions are addicted.
    And what about questions of foresight and intention? Does the game designer know that their game will become addictive? Maybe from a certain point of view that is the very aim of the design.
    It is a brave move to discontinue the game, but in the face of causing problems for individuals I feel it should be applauded. Maybe these things should contain warnings like cigarette packets, although as we all know addiction is a difficult thing to quantify and to fight.
    Great article, I look forward to next week’s provocation.

    • Christopher Roberts

      How effective are the warnings on cigarette packets anyway?

      I understand your point, many people think they have a right to become addicted, they can do what they want, and I am not sure adding a warning would really do that much. It would only be useful for legal reasons. Some people might play the game more if it has a warning, as they want to become part of the fun – ‘nothing is too dangerous for me’.

      Although he did discontinue the game, I reckon Mr Dong Nguyen made a pretty penny out of it whilst it was around.

  2. Apparently there is a new Flappy Bird clone hitting the app stores every 26 minutes. Despite Mr Nguyen’s actions there are a lot of others who are keen to exploit the addictiveness of this style of game.

    • Christopher Roberts

      I can believe it Neil. I have also heard that a lot of them are being used maliciously to install malware on users devices – often to try and glean information.

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