Students flip over the bird


Ben Simone

Student Playing Flappy Bird

“F#$&! Sh*&! Motherf*&%$#!!” my suite-mate shouted as he threw down his iPad. He had been playing “Flappy Bird,” the newest and hottest mobile game, for nearly two hours.

For a couple weeks the mobile game has flapped its way to Johnson State College and has caused cases of anger and frustration across the student body.

The game is quite simple, but extremely frustrating, and as multiple students have said, it’s just impossible to put down.

To frame it to those who have never seen the game, game play is simply tapping the screen of your mobile device as the bird, which looks more like a pixilated rock with eyes and lips, moves up and down avoiding obstacles as the screen scrolls from right to left.

The point of the game is to get the bird through small gaps that appear on different heights as you continue. As soon as you go through one, you get a point. Tapping causes your bird to flap, going higher or maintaining its level. Stop tapping and it begins to fall. One wrong tap, the game is over and you lose all your points.

Now you must be thinking at this point that this can’t be too hard, you just need to get into a rhythm about it. But it is hard. And maddening. And addicting.

Staying true to its Game Boy-like graphics, the game also has glitches like the bird just ceasing to flap for no apparent reason, only adding to the frustration.

Unlike other mobile games that have become hits before, there are no levels in “Flappy Bird.” It’s unforgiving. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made it to 100 points or three; when you die, you lose everything.

However, albeit the game is extremely difficult, it has an iron grip on students’ index fingers.

Amanda Bolduc, a “Flappy Bird” user, may have been part of the reason that the game spread so quickly to JSC after winter break.

“It was the first weekend back and I was like ‘Hey Barbara have you ever played this game, it’s called “Flappy Bird,”’” Bolduc said. “I let her play, then she downloaded it, and it spread like wildfire across our table. Everyone just started downloading it and we were all playing it at the table, not even talking to each other.”

Soon she had introduced the game to 20-25 people on campus.

“When you like something you want everyone to know about it,” she said. She said she thinks about 80 percent of students on campus have tried the game or at least know about it. Her high score is six and she doesn’t feel a need anymore to try to raise that.

Jonathan Howard’s score is currently 99, with an average of 30 per try. He’s one of the first people whom Bolduc introduced it to and describes himself as an addict.

“‘Flappy Bird’ is probably one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played in my life,” he said. “But I am absolutely addicted to it.”

He said that when he started he first wanted to throw his phone, yet it’s a game impossible to put down. Howard said he’s never seen any other mobile game take over the Johnson campus as this has.

As “Flappy Bird” was flapping its way across campus, tragedy struck. According to The Salt Lake Tribune’s article “‘Flappy Bird’ craze spawns clones, outrageous auctions,” the game’s developer Nguyen Ha Dong suddenly decided to take what was one of the most popular apps for iPhone and Android down because of all unwanted press attention it had gotten as well as the addiction it was causing in people.

“‘Flappy Bird’ has unexpected effects. It causes addiction [in] people. I think it is an unexpected problem … and I have to remove it,” Dong said in the article.

While it had already been established within the student community, it’s clear that the unavailability of the app has caused somewhat of a lull. “I feel like it was spreading everyday even more,” Howard said. “It kinda just kept expanding, but now it’s just stopped because of them canceling it.” He said it’s too bad for people who want to play but were too late to catch onto the fad.

However, now with the game unavailable for download, a market for phones with it already installed on them has opened up. Kemper Gottshall is a JSC student trying to sell his phone on eBay, advertising it as having “Flappy Bird.”

Gottshall said that he had been meaning to sell his iPhone4 for a while but without much interest, this peaked, however, when a friend sent him a link showing that phones with the addictive game on it were on eBay for $80,000.

“So I’m selling it for at least 150 bucks,” he said. “Because I’m including a phone case that’s worth 80 bucks because it’s waterproof.” If users want to buy the phone immediately, however, he will sell it for $250.