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' Flappy Bird  is a game that accepts that it is stupid to be a game'
'Flappy Bird is a game that accepts that it is stupid to be a game'
February 4, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

February 4, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
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    13 comments
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Design



"Flappy Bird is not amateurish nor sociopathic. Instead, it is something more unusual. It is earnest. It is exactly what it is, and it is unapologetic. Not even unapologetic—stoic, aloof. Impervious. Like a meteorite that crashed through a desert motel lobby, hot and small and unaware."
- Ian Bogost shares his thoughts on the surprisingly popular mobile time-waster Flappy Bird in a recent essay published by The Atlantic.

Flappy Bird seems to be what we're playing this week, in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- the fact that it's a simple, maddeningly difficult one-button mobile game with no clear purpose, goal, or sympathy for the player.

Perhaps that indifference is what makes it so appealing -- Ian Bogost seems to think so, and explains his reasoning in an excellent essay that popped up yesterday under The Atlantic's masthead.

"In fetishizing simplicity, we also mistake the elegance of design for beauty. [...] To understand Flappy Bird, we must accept the premise that games are squalid, rusty machinery we operate in spite of themselves," opines Bogost.

"What we appreciate about Flappy Bird is not the details of its design, but the fact that it embodies them with such unflappable nonchalance. The best games cease to be for us (or for anyone) and instead strive to be what they are as much as possible. From this indifference emanates a strange squalor that we can appreciate as beauty."

You can -- and should -- read his full essay on The Atlantic's website.


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Comments


Gonzalo Daniel
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That game is pure and simple masochism.

Daniel Holbert
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Tell me that this article is a parody of people who attend modern art galleries.

Artur Moreira
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Just what I was thinking..

The guy made a little game for people to have fun with, suddenly it goes viral and everyone has something fancy to say about it..

People put more meaning to the game than it was intended on its creation.. I start to think journalists are all about following trends, rather than creating the trends themselves from what they think is good material..

Zach Lyle
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Title of the linked article:
"The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird"

Subtitle:
"Why playing stupid games staves off existential despair"

Maybe this guy should go see his therapist.

Matthew Mouras
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Ian Bogost has written some of the most insightful comments I've seen on Gamasutra. This article isn't as well written as many of them. It reads like a grad student trying to impress. Maybe I'm missing something?

Ron Dippold
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Well, every magazine's got a house style. And usually editors to enforce it. If it were Salon it'd be something about how Flappy Birds proves we should all be weeping and wringing our hands because oh god we're getting to that age where we're starting to die did you hear about Philip Hoffman and we're all fundamentally bad people and have no goals or aims in life, just like this game.

Anyhow, grad student trying to impress is very Atlantic, so it's probably writing to the audience or got edited to that.

Richie Meneses
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I dislike cynicism, you know.

Chad Wagner
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I long for the moment when it is revealed that Flappy Bird is at the top because of some kind of exploit or error in the system. Then we look at ourselves trying to explain what's great about something that's not so great. :)
Like the movie "Being There."

Mattis Folkestad
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I think it's interesting that a game so masochistic has gained such popularity. I made a game with a similar game mechanic and theme (and name) three years ago, and now seeing a spike in downloads after Flappy Bird. Maybe people are looking for an easier alternative, or plainly downloads the wrong game. I'm not complaining :)

Robert Leach
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Flappy Bird isn't difficult, masochistic, or hard. It's a game without a precision instrument. There is no learning required, and as far as game mechanics go, you're playing with large and colorful wooden blocks, meant for stacking and little else. This isn't Duchamp putting a urinal in a museum, it's some guy getting a game made and posted on iTunes... possibly to test some kind of giant review-farming tool.

Deconstructing a game like this is like deconstructing lettuce: great for highly specialized science and useless for everybody else.

SD Marlow
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This game is an example of how a "top rated" system is broken, and how sheepish people really are. Grab any 10 games at random, put them at the top of a (shopping) list, and wait a week to see how many tweets and posts and news stories start to surface as those randomly selected games basically influence modern culture.

Jameson Quave
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I'm possibly a bit biased, but I think my game "Dream Flight" is a better take on this mechanic :)

Artur Moreira
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I will support your statement. Flappy Bird is actually something that you get done for a jam in a weekend, not exactly "top rated" material. It is what it is, a time-sink. Because of that, the fact you tried to make an actual game already beats that by far :)

I am glad you and the other people commenting here don't get influenced by this game's popularity. Sometimes I feel that people will start developing towards what seems to be an easy success, but I see that is not the case, and the focus remains on what matters ^^


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