Flappy Bird is the latest mobile gaming craze for iPhone and Android with a simple objective and controls, but gameplay that most describe as addictive and frustrating.
We asked a licensed social worker and counselor why games like this are so addicting, and it comes down to a few key details that push users to keep playing games. She cautions that, “There is some controversy about whether or not you can be addicted to a video game, since it has a positive reward (like sex or gambling), and not the destructive nature of alcohol or drugs.” But shares an explanation of why you can’t top playing Flappy Birds and other addicting games.
After playing Flappy Bird for a few minutes it’s clear why reviewers call the game, “really really addictive” or “painfully addicting” and complain of low high-scores in the reviews with statements like, “high score of 42 but….its not satisfying! I want higher!”
After addicting, the most common word in reviews and descriptions of Flappy Bird is frustration. It’s nearly impossible to read reviews and descriptions of the game that don’t use this word and ask where to find Flappy Bird cheats and hacks to get a higher score.
That’s right, in a game with no real achievements or bosses to fight there are a growing number of Flappy Bird cheats and hacks for iPhone and Android that let users get a fake Flappy Birds high score. These Flappy Bird hacks let gamers tap until they get tired of tapping with no pipes on-screen to get in the way, removing all objectives from the game, but for gamers who are addicted to getting a higher score in this frustrating flappy game, it’s a real solution.
Why is Flappy Bird so addicting, even though it is one of the most frustrating mobile games on the market? According to Rae Staton a Licensed Social Worker,
“Video games are based on a reward system, you reach a level, you unlock new perks and are rewarded with bells and whistles, points and “high scores”…..all of which encourage repeat behavior. It is operant conditioning (i.e.-behavior that is rewarded will be repeated)….and if your buddies all “high-five” you and congratulate you on your big achievement, you have gained social status, acceptance and a boost to your self-esteem, which further encourages repeat behavior.”
With Flappy Bird, the status, acceptance and boost to your self-esteem is instant thanks to an option to share your high score on Facebook, Twitter and other messaging services. A quick look reveals 10-12 players post scores to Twitter every minute during the last 15 minutes, a number that may be higher in the evening.
Adrenaline and escape are two other reasons a simple game like Flappy Bird can be so addicting, Staton explains,
“Video games, like other “exciting” activities, can cause a surge in adrenaline, which can be quite a powerful feeling in iteself. Add to that a release of endorphins that can come from being successful or accomplishing something in a game, and again, it can improve the way you feel about yourself, and therefore continues that cycle of wanting to play more.
Video games are a great escape. It is likely impossible to focus on beating a level, or doing well in a video game while you are talking to someone else or thinking about something else. It is the perfect opportunity to escape whatever stress lies outside of the game. (It is Negative reinforcement—a behavior is strengthened because you remove an aversive event, like worrying about something).”
Flappy Bird is a free game for iPhone and Android that experienced a big boost in popularity in the last several weeks, and continues to dominate the top charts as the number one free app on iPhone and on Android.