Why Did People Love Flappy Bird?

November 10, 2019 | Articles, Blog | 59 Comments

Why Did People Love Flappy Bird?

Okay, it’s pretty simple. There’s a bird,
you tap on the screen to make it go up, you don’t tap on the screen to make it go down.
There are pipes, if you hit the pipes or the ground, you lose. That’s it. And yet people
freaking love it, or maybe they hated it just the right way, because well it is maddening. Top score 29 right here and not intending
to ever beat it until, you know, that little spark of something occurs to me. Maybe, maybe
I can beat that score. I mean 29 is just on away from 30, and 30 would be such a nice
round number. And then I’m playing again, and I’m playing and playing until I hit 30.
But then, then I can keep my streak alive and the thrill begins, I’m freaking out because
every new gap is another step toward 40 or even 50. AHHH!
Okay 36, that’s good enough, that’s as far as I need to go. Until the cycle starts again. So why, why do I keep doing this? Why do millions
of people keep doing this? Why are our brains so dumb?! It’s actually fairly well studied,
not with Flappy Bird specifically, but with gaming, and more importantly with gambling.
This turns out to be similar, though of course not as worrying as gambling addictions.
Our bodies and brains are designed for achievement. What that achievement is defined as is partially
innate, like finding a suitable mate, and partially cultural, like getting a great job
or scoring touchdowns in football. Whatever those achievements are, our brains crave them,
and when we achieve, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good, particularly dopamine. We sometimes talk about dopamine like it’s
just the chemical that makes us feel good, but it is oh so much more than that. Feeling
better when you achieve is nice and all, but what your brain really wants is to find the
pattern that leads to the eventual achievement. So if you ascribe value to doing well in Flappy
Bird, which of course is what games are designed to make you do, and then you do well, then
you get that feeling of achievement. That pulse of dopamine. But your brain is also
recording the actions that led up to that feeling, and it thinks ‘how can I make this
happen again?’. “Well last time all I had to do was play a little Flappy Bird for a
little while, so let’s try that out.” Suddenly just turning on Flappy Bird, starting the
game, gives you a little bit of dopamine, a precursor of what’s to come, an encouragement
to go for that achievement. Dopamine, it turns out, is one of the keys to habit formation.
The rage? Well that’s part of it too. It’s your brain wanting the reward, following the
pattern and not getting there. That rage is not designed to make you stop playing the
game, it’s designed to make you try again, try harder, to break through that wall and
achieve your reward. This is an excellent system for getting food
and sex. Pleasure to make you enjoy it, habits to enforce the previous pathways that led
to it, and blinding rage to make you incapable of accepting failure. Of course, it’s all
more complicated than this, because your brain is extremely complicated. Your craving for
Flappy Bird is certainly a 21st century addiction, but it’s based on neurochemistry that is far
older than our species, and that’s pretty freaking weird. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
and thanks especially to all of our Subbable subscribers. If you have any questions or
ideas for us, we’re in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter, and if you want to keep
getting smarter with us you can go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe.

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  1. Lyricon

    It's annoying to me that Flappy Bird exists. It's such a simple game mechanic that's been around forever, yet people act like it's this cool new thing. Why did it catch on so virulently?

  2. Southern Charm

    God dammit before this video even starts I can explain it first of all if you wanna dopamine in your system become a doctor and prescribe yourself medicinal weed or others, but when you beat a high score the feeling of euphoria is dopamine and dopamine is what make you happy and dopamine is addicting s you get addicted and test yourself until you get so pissed you can't stand the game anymore. Hank you're viewers should know this you have done to many videos on dopa mine for real this is getting annoying

  3. AnimatorMX

    im not addicted to these cheesy games i've tried it does not work but i am addicted to smash 4!!!!

  4. matt heeren

    why are iridium and other rare metals so rare on earth, but apparently common among asteroids, and other rocks in space?

  5. Mellon Slinger

    My hs is 31

  6. McHaven07

    People play Flappy Bird because of PewdyPie

  7. Koalacutiepie253

    Haha my high score is 49!

  8. Anna A

    I still play flappy bird… The original one. I've never deleted it from my phone, I hope my phone doesn't break some time, the game would be lost then ^^

  9. Maviinn

    This sounds like a severe addiction XD

  10. Gabriel Ezeta

    I think its because when you play flappy bird, it isn't that fun itself, but you like to compare with your friends and family 😛

  11. Peter Rabitt

    So this is why I practice Mozart Sonatas at 2 am? 

  12. cyancoyote

    You will be the next doctor in Doctor Who, Hank! #Hank_is_awesome

  13. Handsome Gamer

    So our brains are essentially blackmailing us.

  14. dragondrakar

    until this day I am proud to say I never even touched that stupid simple game

  15. Tea Babs

    I definitely got the okay from my English professor to use this as a source for my final paper on game addictions. WOO!

  16. Auddity

    The creator abused the app store with a spam bot to download the game thousands of times in a short amount of time with no cost. The game's download history showed this) he later took the entire game down permanently after these accusations.

    That's why people "loved" (you really mean downloaded) flappy bird.

  17. ViraIshnia

    And then your rage at not getting the dopamine makes you rage quit the game. I have not once played flappy bird but have rage quit games before

  18. Rachel

    If you know where and who was in the wedding photo @ 1:15, give this a thumbs up!

  19. Sơn Nguyễn trường

    OMG, you talk so fast.

  20. Bob Jones

    Still no idea why you people like this game, there are so many better ways to waste your time.

  21. Maida A

    124. My highscore is 124, Hank. Beat that xD

  22. Kiiltec

    i never liked that game o felt any desire to break my scores so i rly cant relate to this =s

  23. Dávid Kertész

    Big thumbs up for this. Anything that explains stupid behaviors is appreciated.

  24. rizqi julianto

    am I the only person who actually like flappy birds? seriously I like that game

  25. Ghost Hunter

    This Vietnamese game is freaking me out! HELP!

  26. Metabloxer

    This is the same reason I'm on youtube right now.

  27. Fusion Developer

    Steam Achievements, is one of the things that make owning a game on Steam, preferable.

  28. Aditya Anibha

    Apparently I'm not dumb, because I liked the concept and code, but I did not get addicted to it.

  29. Gila Atwood

    we all love tech.. google is great etc.. but ever consider the carbon footprint cost of millions of tech games addicted people? Maybe those concerned about emissions should be promoting challenging games that don't have that cost? Just a thought.

  30. barretjd

    Why are some of the numbers backwards on the football jerseys at 1:20?

  31. Hani Haz

    I never thought I'd come across a picture of Nickhun and Victoria (1:17) in a SciShow vid. That surprised me!

  32. Meagan McNeilly

    Victoria and Nickhun!!!!!!

  33. Ayesha Fatima

    I saw a video and i saw a guy that his score is 999.

  34. Nicole Grant


  35. Sam Burned

    …Until the original Flappy Bird got banned because it stole the idea of the green pipes from Nintendo.

  36. jhagz Perez

    my high score is 132 in flappy bird

  37. laura

    By the end of this video I had already downloaded Flappy Bird and failed.

  38. Noorquacker

    Top score 131!

  39. Ruby Chen

    Victoria and Nichkhun is a beautiful couple but it is a fake one. He was dating Tiffany(another beautiful girl) though.

  40. GeekTechZone

    I got 173

  41. A Kawamura

    Top score 281😀

  42. Lenward

    Dope amine

  43. vincent28

    We don't ._.

  44. Hannah Carlson

    Why is it that I can raise a baby animal and feel the same connection when being around a baby human?

  45. Harry Brookman

    actually when flappy bird annoyed me I just deleted it and never looked at it again. such a tedious game..

  46. Amanda Lam

    If so, will other animals also get addicted playing flappy bird ?

  47. Chaoplexity

    dopamine doesn't really have the power people keep ascribing it dopamine is involved in the reward system but also in many other brain systems, pleasure addiction and reward are far more about brain circuits than a chemical, dopamine just happens to be used in those circuits

  48. BadHabitMarco

    I'm really good at fapping bird.

  49. mechasentai

    I must have oddly wired Dopamine.

  50. Alex Gewecke

    Lol, my high score was 212, I believe. I got so good that I once got over 100 while riding in a decently bumpy car. But then I got bored with it.

  51. JonatasAdoM

    That's why I HATE achievements, people are so naive that they don't even notice what's going on.

  52. Fandyus

    2:40 I accepted my failure in ever getting a girlfriend long ago.

  53. I'magfriendbuddy Chelseydomingo

    I never liked flappy bird it pisses me off because I keep on touching the green thing or whatever that is fuck that game"……….

  54. Gizmo Cat

    I find value to in petting cats.

  55. Gizmo Cat

    I'm asexual, so I feel quite alienated by most people. 😞

  56. Tình Lê

    what do you think if play flapy bird in real world ?
    and it 's : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gosuvndotcom.arstupidbird

  57. joseph woo

    I still have flappy bird on my phone over 4 years later. I never deleted it. My high score was 149. I was a god at flappy bird

  58. Hjaja Bjka

    I guess my brain fail in doing that rage thing because if a game is too hard even if i tried over and over again I'll just gonna abandon it. (I'm looking at you plague inc)

  59. search "Bamamaman" on YT and enjoy

    This is the second comment to be posted to this video in over a year. Damn.

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