"Flappy Bird is not difficult to challenge you, nor even to teach the institution of videogames a thing or two. Rather, Flappy Bird is difficult because that’s how it is. It is a game that is indifferent, like an iron gate rusted shut, like the ice that shuts down a city. It’s not hard for the sake of your experience; it’s just hard because that’s the way it is. Where masocore games want nothing more than to please their players with pain and humiliation (thus their appropriation of the term 'masochism'), Flappy Bird just exists. It wants nothing and expects even less."
Flappy Bird is a free game on iOS that everyone is playing. Rather than throwing his hands up at the confounding events that led to a somewhat amateurish and endlessly frustrating game spreading to iPhones worldwide, Ian Bogost explores what exactly Flappy Bird is and why people can't help but engage with it in a piece for The Atlantic. If you've read any of Bogost's previous work, you will not be surprised to know the answer is more complex than "it's stupid fun."
Some games aspire to match or eclipse the thrilling drama of better established artforms, whether through a resonant narrative or play mechanics that invest players in the performance. Flappy Bird simply exists to be interacted with, Bogost observes. It doesn't care to teach you how to play, it doesn't even care to sell you in-app purchases to improve your performance. Flappy Bird only exists to be interacted with in brief, frustrating spats, and that honesty is probably the best thing about it.
Ironically, the game has now been pulled from the App Store after its creator decided he'd had enough abuse from angry gamers (not birds) worldwide. Flappy Bird--you shone so brightly, yet so briefly.