Ah, Flappy Bird. You flapped your way into our hearts before disappearing as soon as the going got tough. We’ll miss you, oh flappy one, with your bizarre flying motion, Mario-inspired obstacles, and frustrating gameplay. You were, are, and always will be, a phenomenon. And this is your story.
The Rise Of Flappy Bird
In April 2013, Vietnamese mobile developer Dong Nguyen teased a new game. Its name was Flap Flap and he had developed it in the space of just two days. After changing its name to Flappy Bird to avoid confusion with an existing app, Nguyen got the game onto the iTunes App Store on May 24, 2013.
Flappy Bird was not an immediate hit, and it wasn’t until October 2013 that it started to gain traction. By the end of 2013 Flappy Bird was one of the Top 250 free apps in the U.S., and on Jan. 10 it entered the Top 10. The Android version debuted on Jan 22, and the game then went viral.
The Best Flappy Bird Videos
It was at this point that everybody started playing Flappy Bird, and, thanks to the magnificence of the Internet, also started uploading videos about the game to YouTube. Some of which are very NSFW… you have been warned.
The Flappy Bird Song
You know something has entered into mainstream consciousness when it starts having songs composed about it. And Flappy Bird is no exception. Jonathan Mann, he of ‘Song A Day’ fame, composed this fabulous ode to Flappy Bird, which contains some definite truths.
Angry Grandpa Plays Flappy Bird
Flappy Bird made it big for two reasons: the simplicity of the gameplay, which gave it that all-important pick-up-and-play quality, and the frustrating difficulty level which kept you trying time and again. This video demonstrates both of these qualities, with Angry Grandpa trying his hand at the game.
Flappy Bird Vine Compilation
With Vines being extremely short clips shot on smartphones, often the best way to watch them is in the form of a compilation video. This Vine compilation tackles the subject of Flappy Bird head-on, and doesn’t pull any punches.
How To Beat Flappy Bird
It turns out there is a way of beating Flappy Bird, though there are a few steps you need to follow to the letter. This guy explains the process, which ends with you satisfied you’ve wrung as much enjoyment as possible out of the game.
How To Delete Flappy Bird
Once you tire of Flappy Bird you may want to delete the game (remembering that you can never get it back). Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as you may think, as Flappy Bird doesn’t want to die quietly. This bizarre video shows one guy’s repeated attempts at deleting the game.
The End Of Flappy Bird
And then Flappy Bird was gone, removed from Google Play and iTunes by Nguyen. He warned people ahead of time, with a tweet stating that Flappy Bird would be removed in 22 hours, thus creating a rush as everyone who hadn’t yet downloaded the game made sure to do so before it was too late.
I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Why did Nguyen kill Flappy Bird? No one seems quite sure, with Forbes getting the closest to discovering the truth when it interviewed him in the aftermath. When asked to explain why Flappy Bird was killed he simply said, “I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”
I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Perhaps the tweet embedded above, written by Nguyen just before he announced Flappy Bird was being taken down, explains it better. Prior to Flappy Bird becoming a legitimate phenomenon Nguyen was an ordinary guy living an ordinary life. Fame and fortune clearly took its toll, thus proving that being rich and famous isn’t necessarily the route to happiness.
The Mainstream Maelstrom
Few mobile games enter into the collective consciousness of the mainstream in the way Flappy Bird has done. Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Candy Crush Saga are three examples of those that did, but they all took their time to cross over, requiring millions of people playing for millions of hours before the mainstream press became interested.
Flappy Bird was different. Arriving from nowhere, achieving virality on the strength of its frustrating difficulty level, and then being killed at the height of its popularity meant the mainstream media ignored it at their peril. Thus, Flappy Bird think pieces were suddenly everywhere. And this one can now be added to the burgeoning list.
Image Credit: Gigi Ibrahim via Flickr