Philip Ellis
News & Views
Can lightning strike twice for Flappy Bird creator?

Forget Flappy Bird, and say hello to your new obsession. Dong Nguyen, the creator of the addictive mobile game, has launched his follow-up effort; Swing Copters. And Flappy fans needn’t fret; it is just as infuriatingly difficult. In fact, in the spirit of full disclosure, I gave up on Swing Copters after about five attempts, before rage-steam started shooting out of my ears.

The crux of the game is similar to that of Flappy Bird; players tap their phone screens to make the control the direction of the character, a tiny anthropomorphic chopper, and navigate it past a series of gateways and swinging hammers. The further the copter flies in one direction, the harder it becomes to correct its course – and this, predictably, gets frustrating rather quickly. Maddeningly so.

“It’s so exceedingly simple, and so overwhelmingly difficult, that players must continue to consciously choose to play over and over and over again, despite overwhelming evidence that they’ll always be met with defeat,” says the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey. “In psychology, they call a reminiscent phenomenon the gambler’s fallacy – the mistaken belief that if you lose a lot in the beginning you’ll somehow win more later on. In popular parlance, we have another term: insanity.”

Nguyen withdrew the original Flappy Bird game from the App Store back in February, citing the personal pressure caused by its immense popularity. Earlier this month, he launched a multiplayer version of Flappy Bird exclusively through Amazon Fire TV, which many have interpreted as a denouncement of the antisocial behaviour caused by addiction to the app. Nguyen’s accompanying message certainly supports this theory: “Enjoy playing the game at home (not breaking your TV) with your family and friends.”

Only time will tell if Swing Copters will develop the same passionate fan base as its predecessor – I for one will be giving the game a wide berth, lest I end up smashing my phone in a fit of rage.

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