Analyzing The Allure Of Flappy Bird

Flappy BirdFlappy Bird has taken the App Store by storm to come out of nowhere to reach the top free spot. It’s not exactly clear how the app came to prominence six months after it launched, but it has become the latest App Store phenomena. No matter how Flappy Bird reached the top charts, it has now gained a lot of new users just from the number one positioning. The game has gained a lot of fans, and we’re here to analyze the allure of Flappy Bird. It’s one thing to get to the top charts, but it’s quite another to stay there while receiving a four star rating with over 500,000 reviews.
Flappy Bird is as simple as they come with one touch controls, simplified graphics, repetitive visual elements, and the same layout every time. It’s a bare bones gaming experience that calls back to the days of the classic arcade. It’s tough to pin point the appeal, but it really comes down to how simple the game is. There’s only one objective every time, to fly as far as you can while flying in between pipes. Your score is determined by the pipes you pass, and you can compete with your Game Center friends. What makes the game truly stand out is how extremely difficult it is to the point that scoring ten is an accomplishment. You go in to the game with low expectations, and the challenge throws you off. Then it becomes a whole new experience as the game seemingly insults your ability to play games, and you just can’t have it get the better of you.

Once you lose a couple times very quickly, you then start to care about your score. If you take your friends scores into account there’s an added challenge with specific goals to reach. As soon as you try to reach a certain plateau, the best parts of Flappy Bird appear. The main component is that it’s a very intense experience where your heart drops from time to time as you try to barely sneak through a passage way. It can be quite nerve racking when you’re trying to get to a certain length, mainly because it’s such a difficult set-up. Another key ingredient is the jarring deaths, as the bird seemingly slams into a brick wall with a sharp sound that draws from your tense nature. Both elements tie nicely into one another to keep you on edge for every single flap of your bird.
The biggest component of Flappy Bird’s allure is the difficulty, which is surprisingly not based on level design. Instead, the challenge arises from such poor game design that it makes it nearly impossible to succeed. There are some very challenging games on iOS including The Impossible Game, Duet Game, Impossible Road, and many others. Those games establish their difficulty with ornate level design, while Flappy Bird generates challenge from poor design. The physics engine of Flappy Bird is atrocious, while the death recognition is overly simplistic. The bird moves with herky-jerky flaps, and the game counts a death if the bird is even close to a pipe. It’s as though the game engine recognizes the bird as a single square that is larger than the bird, and that’s why it looks like the bird misses a pipe only to smack into it. You need to be overly precise since the game has such a poor design, and it makes for more challenge than a game designed specifically to be difficult. It’s as though you’re trying to overcome all of the mistakes in the game while trying to reach a high score.

Flappy Bird (Free, Universal) is the latest App Store sensation that is tried by more people everyday who get to experience first-hand what makes the game so appealing. It’s like those movies that are so bad, they’re funny. Flappy Bird creates an atmosphere of extreme challenge due to poor game design that oddly creates an intense gaming experience unlike anything else around.

The Three Ingredients Flappy Bird’s Allure:
1.) Poor game design creates extreme challenge
2.) Difficulty creates intense play sessions
3.) Jarring deaths add to the intensity, and replay factor

Flappy Bird (left) / How game actually recognizes Flappy Bird (right)

Flappy Bird (left) / How game actually recognizes Flappy Bird (right)


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