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In Defense Of Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird is a game. Flappy Bird is a game that, for reasons both known and unknown, rubs many "gamers" the wrong way. There have been countless articles attempting to understand Flappy Bird's success and its rise to the top of the app store. Countless more articles have been written about it's poor quality, about its creator making $50,000 a day, or written out of pure hate for a game that to many is "destroying gaming." Some video game websites have even gone so far as to review the game. In fact, so much commotion has been made about Flappy Bird that the game's creator just announced he would be taking the game off digital store shelves in the next 22 hours because he can't take the attention and criticism.

Flappy Bird is not a game worth getting upset over. Flappy Bird is not worth hating. And I can say with certainty, Flappy Bird isn't hurting anybody or anything. Except the people who take time out of their day to despise it.

In case you aren't in the loop, lets get you caught up to speed. Flappy Bird is a free mobile game with a simple premise - flap. Just flap. Keep flapping. Tap the screen to flap. Flap your way between pipes eerily similar to those found in Mario as a bird avatar which might be a rare, endangered species in the Mushroom Kingdom.

That's all the game is. There is no music. There are barely sound effects. Hit boxes for both Flappy and the pipes are large and confusing. Surviving beyond one or two pipes takes some serious coordination, timing, and practice.

And it has skyrocketed to the top of the iOS and Android app stores. People cannot get enough of this game. Maybe it's the challenging difficulty. Maybe it's the Mario-esque art style. Maybe (probably) because it's free. I don't have all the answers here, but what is easy to see is that for many gamers, Flappy Bird represents 100 percent, Grade-A certified EVIL.

Of course, evil is just a synonym here for casual. "Hardcore" gamers hate casuals. It's an us versus them mentality of exclusivity. Many of us who swoon over The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite feel threatened by this ever increasing "mob" of casual gamers, who we somehow believe have come to transform our favorite hobby and art form into a faceless monster of money grabbing micro-transactions. So when a half-baked game capitalizing on both Mario nostalgia and people's strange obsession with video game birds conquers the mobile world and starts raining money upon the game's lone developer, the hardcore crowd gets upset. The numerous mobile games which could be considered art are being overlooked, replaced by a monstrosity of design and programming.

But there is no reason to be concerned. There is no reason to hate Flappy Bird, because the truth is Flappy Bird has always existed.

Flappy Bird is a time-waster. It is a game in the lowest sense, a game in its most animalistic form. We all play games to occupy time. We play games to escape reality. I did this pretty much everyday in my computer class in junior high. In fact, I might as well have played Flappy Bird. I would find a fun flash game and play it every time the teacher wasn't looking. The whole class would get in on it, sharing mind numbing and utterly pointless games with one another to pass the time. Do you think any of us when class was over rushed home to play those flash games? No. Us gamers in the group went home to our consoles and played the latest and greatest titles on the market. Kids in the class not into games went on with their daily lives, not giving those flash games or gaming in general a second thought.

That's what Flappy Bird is. Flappy Bird is a flash game in junior high, played by many, forgotten by all. It's a kind of game very different from most of the games we are used to now. The medium has come a long way since its creation. Games now rival movies as an entertainment form. A game can now be a piece of art. I would argue games can be and are the most powerful kind of art and storytelling.

But not all games are art. Not all games will ever be art. Some games are just games. Time-wasters. Like those flash games in junior high. Like Flappy Bird.

And here is the real kicker - the vast majority of the people downloading, playing and enjoying Flappy Bird? Just like those kids in my junior high, they have no interest in becoming gamers. They aren't gamers. They don't want to be gamers. They just want to see what this stupid bird game everybody is talking about. They just want something to occupy their time for a few minutes. There is no casual conspiracy. There is no "us" versus "them." It is an imaginary threat that rears its ugly head every time a game not made for the hardcore crowd finds success.

Flappy Bird will fade into oblivion, as will the hundreds of clones the game will and is spawning. Another Flappy Bird will rise to take it's place in the near future. The cycle will continue, probably forever. No matter how refined and prestigious video games get as an art form, Flappy Bird - the time-wasters - will be there. So will the people who play them.

Games can be art, but they can also just be games. Now tell me, is Flappy Bird worth getting upset over?

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