Flappy Bird finds immense popularity at UB

The Spectrum

If you've wandered around campus lately, you may have noticed people transfixed by their phones and frantically tapping the screen. If you bumped into one of those people and received a scathing glance, it's probably because you cost the person a high score in Flappy Bird.

The simple task of maneuvering a bird through a series of pipes has captivated people all around campus.

"I'm stuck at six; it's the hardest game I've ever played in my life," said Brandon Roberts, a junior business major. "This game looks a lot simpler than it really is. You think you're going to do so well but it never happens. You always do bad in this game."

As of Thursday, over 25 million have played Flappy Bird on iOS and over 10 million have downloaded it from Android's Google Play. It's the No. 1 free app in the App Store and Google Play and it has likely been leaving most players frustrated, struggling to beat their personal high score.

Pictures of high scores and "epic fails" have flooded social media and roused competitive nature throughout some of the student body. And although the app launched in May 2013, it only recently took off, topping charts for free apps on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

Games like Candy Crush and Words with Friends have garnered similar amounts attention and wide game play. But what makes Flappy Bird different is how the game hides its challenging nature. Users appreciate its minimalist design and structure, which allows for easy continual play - one attempt after the other.

The game also encourages competition among friends - Android users can even use Google+ to compare scores with friends in their "circles."

"I downloaded it yesterday," said Juraj Damjanic, a senior psychology major. "But I'm just trying to beat my friend's high score ... It's fun and entertaining."

It is interesting that a game like this has proven to be addicting. These days, people are willing to pay $500 for a next-generation console and are excited whenever a new innovative way to display better graphics is on the horizon, yet people are standing around tapping away at their phones.

Hours pass quickly with dozens of runs of Flappy Bird that end in mixed success. One good run on the game can easily be followed by dozens of disappointing ones.

Players agree the game is overwhelmingly addictive. Some even joke about feeling the urge to throw their phones across the room after hearing the game's signature "thud" when the pixelated bird fails to pass through a set of pipes.

With the game gaining popularity, the creator, Dong Nguyen, is cashing in on his creation. It has become so popular that Nguyen told The Verge he is making $50,000 from ad revenue every day, or $18 million each year.

"He's a genius," Roberts said. "Look at the makers of Angry Birds;they [marketed around it] and made toys and everything. I don't think people even play that game anymore and it's still worth millions."

One thing is for sure: Flappy Bird's popularity is growing, one tap at a time.

Joe Konze Jr. contributed reporting to this story.

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