Flappy Bird Saved My Life

 "It's some kind of joke." "It's ironic." "It's the hardest game I've ever played."

You know what else people say those things about? Life, itself. Holding a job. Staying in a marriage. Caring for a dying loved one. If you don't love Flappy Bird, there's a really good chance you also don't love your life. (Which, you know, would be fine.) Life turns out to hold no such treat as a "happy ending." Life just kind of goes, and goes, and then goes some more, and then it ends.

I think people quickly dispense with the can't-be-bothered-to-care game trappings of Flappy Bird and realize that this thing basically looks like our modern daily experience. There's a rhythm, but it's hard to keep. The world around us is both deceptively benign, and also really fucking hard.

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But unlike a harsh documentary on the topic, or photos of the terminally ill,  Flappy Bird boils that experience down to such a simple, hilarious thing that playing it actually makes me feel better.

I love the futility of it, and relate to that. I love the inanity of the level design, and relate to that. The world around me bores me that exact same way. Every time that blank-faced little two-frame bird sprite takes a nose dive, I laugh my head off, and to myself I'm saying "That's me! That's me!" 

As an Art Director in the social games industry, Flappy Bird also holds another nugget of grim joy for me. I'm privy to the type of meetings in which rooms full of people may discuss an isolated color choice at great length, or whether moving a single element ten pixels up would result in increased performance. The promise of phrases like "next gen" have seemingly been resurrected from the '90s console wars. And yet, here comes stupid little Flappy Bird -- straight to the top of the Free chart and sticking there for ages. No marketing. No deeply-considered anything. It's such a relief to behold.  On some level it feels like the bland truth is winning.

Flappy Bird is the most cathartic, meaningful thing that has ever happened to me.