“Flappy Bird” taps out



“Flappy Bird” rose to #1 in the App Store before it was deleted by its owner, Dong Nguyen.

Beads of sweat trickle down an IPhone user’s face while he, with intense concentration, taps at his phone screen. Suddenly, the person drops the phone in anguish and slams his fist against the desk.  “STUPID BIRD!”

If you’ve seen a person exhibiting this kind of behavior, then chances are you’ve encountered a Flappy Bird fanatic, a devout follower of the simple-looking yet frustratingly-challenging app game that is sweeping the nation, but has now disappeared from Apple’s App Store completely.

.GEAR Studios, a small, independent game developer based in Vietnam, developed and released Flappy Bird in 2013. In January 2014, it was the top free download in Apple’s App Store, available on iOS and then downloadable for Android users.

The premise of the game is simple.  Players must navigate the “flappy bird” (a pudgy, yellow, lemon-shaped bird with obvious aviation difficulties contradictory to nature) through a series of pipe openings by tapping their screen.

While that might sound easy, it really isn’t.  If players do not tap with the utmost precision, the flappy bird bumps into a pipe and nosedives into an immobilized state on the ground with a pathetically vacant look in its eyes.  The bird’s plummet is accompanied by a slight flashing of the screen and a slapping sound effect for good measure.

A player’s point accumulation depends on how many pipe-openings the flappy bird flies through.  Players can receive medals depending on their score.

The graphics of the game are relatively simplistic, taking on an old school “Marioesque” appearance. Flappy Bird’s graphics add to the frustration of the game, because they create the illusion that the game is easy.

The “frustration” that Flappy Bird ignites in its players is precisely the reason why Dong Nguyen, the game’s creator, removed Flappy Bird from the App Store on Feb. 9, 2014.  After reading multiple online complaints by game reviewers, Nguyen reportedly realized that Flappy Bird was “addicting” and a “problem.”  Nguyen took to Twitter to announce Flappy Bird’s impending removal and followed through the next day.

Since Flappy bird’s demise, parody games have been released by other gaming companies, as well as a Flappy Bird “generator” on the internet where one can upload any image to serve as a customized “flappy bird.”  Also, at the onset of Flappy Bird’s removal, sellers took to websites like eBay to sell IPhones with the Flappy Bird app for prices ranging from hundreds to even thousands of dollars.

Even though the possibility of broken IPhone screens due to temper tantrums, accidental injuries, internet rumors of gameplay murders, and wounded ego and pride are all possible Flappy Bird side effects,  there’s no doubt that Flappy Bird is hilariously entertaining while playing and while watching others play.  While Flappy Bird might descend in failure on your IPhone screen, there’s no stopping Flappy Bird’s ascent into App superstardom.