Flappy Bird will not die.
Two weeks ago this seemingly insignificant iOS game about guiding a feathered friend through a never-ending gauntlet of pipes caused a bit of a stir online.
It had all the makings of a flash in the pan, but talk never ceased, and soon there were articles about it all over the web. With each piece, Flappy Bird crept closer to becoming a full-blown phenomenon.
Seeing references on Twitter from people I don't even know is one thing, but soon I saw my own friends posting about it. I pleaded with them to delete it, I even suggested better alternatives, but it was already too late, and now the world is addicted.
Flappy Bird is evil incarnate - it is Satan, Lucifer, El Diablo, Beelzeboss, Bieber. It is a plague on humankind. Here's why...
It is not actually any good
You tap the screen to lift the bird. Wow. Better games have been conceived, made, play-tested and fine-tuned in less time than it took to make Flappy Bird.
Take for example, experimental Oculus Rift bomb-disposal game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Even in its bare-bones state it appears much more inventive and fun than Flappy Bird, and it was made in just two days.
Even watching the video of people playing it is more fun than Flappy Bird, a game designed purely to attach adverts to, like barnacles on an ugly tug boat.
It draws attention away from well-made games
This is the most important point of all. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have downloaded Flappy Bird when they could have downloaded countless other, better games.
If it's free games you want, look no further than these games: Letterpress, Drop7, Punch Quest, Dumb Ways To Die, Cool Pizza, Robot Unicorn Attack 2 and the delightfully insane Super Monsters Ate My Condo.
That's just scratching the surface.
If you don't mind paying a little bit of money and want a similar level of challenge to Flappy Bird, but packaged with great visuals and a top soundtrack, then check out the exemplary Super Hexagon.
For some alternative bird-based action there is of course Angry Birds, but also Tiny Wings, which is about using momentum to get a flightless bird from point A to point B.
Purely and simply evil
Once you've passed one gap in Flappy Bird, and scored one point, that's the game. There's nothing else to be gained from it.
After that it is nothing but a repetition of that first successful act for as long as you can muster.
There is no escalation, no alteration in the size or regularity of the gaps, and it offers no sense of fun either in its visuals or its sound design. Flappy Bird is a simple evil, like stubbing your toe, kneeling on a piece of Lego or a swift kick between the legs.
It is addictive, but awful
Addiction (and I do use the term lightly in this context) in gaming can be good. It can inspire players to master a game, sink time into it and learn how to be a better player.
There's nothing of worth to be learned from excessively playing Flappy Bird.
Flappy Bird is addictive because it taps into humanity's innate stubbornness - "I will not let this game get the better of me!"
That's a fair enough reason to keeping playing a game, but only if it is possible for you to get the better of the game. Flappy Bird never offers players any real reward.
It steals assets from Super Mario Bros
The blue background, the green bushes, the fluffy clouds and the green pipes are all incredibly reminiscent of Super Mario World.
They look similar by design, presenting the player with something immediately recognisable but in such ways that Nintendo can't really sue them. One more aspect that adds to the overall cheapness of the game.
The bird's eternally recurring, existential ennui
Look at the bird when you fail. You hit a pipe, the bird plummets and just lays there – eyes wide open – staring into an existential abyss; the same one that you have stumbled into, always playing, always wanting "one more try".