What Gamers Can Take Away From the Flappy Bird Debacle of 2014

Maybe we shouldn't have been so quick to crucify Flappy Bird.

The majority of gamers are a lovable, accepting, charitable group. Conversely, they are hyper-critical, mean-spirited and as a whole love piling on when they see something they don’t like. This happened early this month, when a small indie developer put out Flappy Bird.

Objectively, Flappy Bird was a terrible game.

It used ripped-off art and was throw-your-phone-out-the-window difficult. As a journalist I felt compelled to see what all the hubbub was about, so I downloaded it, played it for 15 minutes, and promptly deleted the sucker because I had seen enough.

*Literally all I saw when I played the game.*

Oddly enough, Flappy Bird immediately took off, but legitimate gamers (myself included) couldn’t understand why. This inspired an absolute shitstorm to rain upon the creator of Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen, who apparently couldn’t handle the heat – because he ended up taking the game down saying it “ruined his life.” Shortly after this, Nguyen said he was done and took the game off of the Internet.

Of course, the gaming community did what it often does in situations like these: We piled on.

People railed on Nguyen from Twitter to the message boards of many gaming sites. Watching this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another time something like this had happened with Phil Fish, creator of Fez.

*Wait... What?*

If you don’t remember: Fish had a reputation for flying off the handle and going into bizarre bouts of depression and rage when taking criticism for his game. Rather than calm down, many in the community continued to rail on Fish until he quit. I don’t think this was a really appropriate response for Fish to take, but he felt like it was the only way to escape being berated for trying to create. I also understand that Fish wasn’t always easy to deal with, but as a community, we’re only denying ourselves of a talented developer who made a brilliant game. Now we’ll never see anything from Mr. Fish again. Thanks Internets!

The difference here is pretty vast.

Nguyen is clearly not a top-notch genius dev here, but he created something that gained notoriety (which is more than most can say). Nguyen is also bowing out with a fair amount of grace – he’s said that he will still develop and this experience hasn’t ruined gaming for him. But nonetheless I think there’s something we, as a community, need to take away from this.

*This guy's review is still less professional than this lady.*

I saw a review of Flappy Bird that read as follows:

"FUCK THIS GAME!

SCORE: F"

Anyone who as ever created anything, big or small, knows that it is a tremendous blow to the ego to receive constructive criticism of a piece. To pile on, it’s a kick in the groin to receive unconstructive criticism of a piece, and that is something that the gaming community thrives on. Ponder this:

We could have deprived ourselves of the next Myamoto or Kojima by refusing to take Flappy Bird as what it is – a mobile game for cellphones.

Perhaps in the future we should reward people who have taken the time to entertain us with games, even if we see them as time-wasters. Maybe we should save the railing for games that really don’t work. But Flappy Bird did what it was meant to do, and everyone dismembered it regardless.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen gamers pick apart for almost no reason? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured Columnist

I am an aspiring video game journalist and a professional awesome person. My words make knowledge parents in your brain that give birth to baby-smiles on your face. You can listen to my podcast by going on iTunes and searching Video Game Podcast Show!

Published Feb. 10th 2014
  • DawnPHenry
    http://gg.gg/1834n
  • Chris Gannon
    Hello Mr.Jay. Thank you for referencing my Flappy Bird review in your article. I just wish you would had seen that review for what it was. While my words may have seemed harsh, it was meant as a joke. That review was written in response to an e-mail to our podcast.

    Again I want to thank you for helping to drive traffic to Gamingdeath,com. I really do appreciate it. If you have time maybe you would like to check out some of our other pieces.

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