But outside of all that, Flappy Bird is more an exercise in frustrated tedium than anything else.
At its core, Flappy Bird would be the most pointless, ill-conceived title in recent gaming memory if it didn't stand to teach us something all together unsettling about our gaming habits, our own tedious machinations and addictions that lead us to sometimes disavow ourselves and succumb to the awfulness that is waste and sub-mediocrity.
Flappy Bird consists of no greater input than a patient finger and no greater output than a turd shaped bird bouncing his way merrily through a backdrop that looks awfully familiar. Can anyone get our favorite plumber on the phone?
I won't lie: it is rather gleeful and inspiring, inside this sphere of monotony, when the little bugger slams face first into the turf because I've tapped the screen too soon or too late. The only thing that would be better is if he rocketed into the air like some recursive torpedo or squealed in a piglet allegro as he smashed into the earth.
And all of this is less effectual when he does actually slam into a randomly generated pipe - the game's only obstacle - that often has some absurdly laughable fluctuating and overreaching hit box.
In short, I couldn't put it the damn thing down; I felt compelled to traverse the pipes to see how far I could go.
Seven. I made it only seven pipes in my first several attempts.
However, even after growing more than frustrated and tomato-faced and seriously considering smashing my phone with a hammer before setting it ablaze, something kept tugging at my finger, something that made me tap, tap, tap my phone's screen, to whittle away precious time struggling to break some elusive and ethereal high score.
Never once, after playing Flappy Bird, did I feel good about myself, or that I had accomplished a blasted thing. I always felt drained, used up, and wasteful. Hell, I was playing this crapfest instead of games like Assassin's Creed IV, Day Z, Rust, and The Witcher 2. Not to mention Gone Home. What the hell was wrong with me?
I was addicted ... that's what.
It accesses that obsessive synapse in our brains, choke slams it, and institutes itself as dictator of our motivation, tzar of our fixation, autocrat of our attention. It derives pleasure from our pain, and in some ways, we do, too.
As Freud so eloquently pointed out:
"Sadism is all right in its place, but it should be directed to proper ends." Flappy Bird is, at heart, a sadomasochistic invariant flight that never shoots for higher than the nearest treetop - or Mario-pipe, as it were - and remains content to stay comfortably nested in what it does best: staying safe. There's little gameplay here and even less imagination.
Arguably, Flappy Bird exists for no other reason than to act as arbiter and catalyst of high blood pressure, smashed phones, and wrecked relationships. Thankfully, this ugly duckling got killed by its mother.