Did tablet kids create the Flappy Bird sensation?

February 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

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Everyone hates flappy bird. Here is one poster from that neogaf thread:

Opus Angelorum
Member
02-08-2014, 04:34 PM, Post #7
Its a piece of shit, and an excuse for people who know nothing of games to proclaim their expertise.

The later is a kinder variant of what is an increasingly virulent backlash at a small Hanoi based indie developer who just wanted to make a simple game. The problem the game presents is: who is this silent majority driving the game’s appeal? The answer might be these kids.

The number of manufacturers producing low end android devices marketed at children has grown by over 100% in a year in some cases going from 7 kid proof models to over 512 tablets rugged enough for kids play. Children playing on cheap tablets has become so ubiquitous that global toys sales are down, Nintendo’s kid friendly products are failing to appeal to a generation that would rather play Toca Kitchen. So my question is this: are tablet kids the culprits behind the flappy bird craze? Did a group of human beings only recently enabled in the marketplace collectively purchase and play a free game adults despise?

Let’s look at the game. Flappy Bird is so simple it’s almost ridiculous, but for children trying to build hand coordination it’s a self-esteem boost and an awesome way to spend time. The game’s completely free model also means that even with parental lock the vast majority of children could download it easily. So did kids drive capitalism’s wheels and push something adults find odious to the top of the App Store? It would hardly be the first time.

In 1990 John Hughes released Home Alone. The film was almost universally panned by critics. It went on to gross millions and become a staple in holiday films. Did Americans universally enjoy a film that critics despised? No, it was kids. Children enjoyed the story of a kid alone with out parents taking down two bumbling burglars. It was a piece of entertainment that failed the parent kid bridge Pixar and Nintendo are so good at building. Instead the film simply hooked kids in a way that made kids love it. Children could not make the decision to see Home Alone alone though.

In A Visit from the Goon squad Jennifer Egan predicts entire market places geared towards a new generation of kids participating in the marketplace with their thumbs. She even notes an iTunes variant that is full of musicians trying to get toddlers to buy their music. Capitalism in Egan’s fiction stoops down to the level of the pre-lingual. That is how easy the iPad has made purchasing that we can now do it before we can even speak.

I can not prove that Flappy Bird is the product of a generation of internet enabled toddlers, but I can speculate and it does seem sensical. What it says is that children will increasingly be able to determine their own entertainment decisions. That they picked one that adults find so odious that the elders are mystified and in backlash should come as no surprise. After all part of what made Kevin so successful wasn’t that he necessarily more clever that the burglars, rather that they couldn’t believe they were being defeated by a kid. Children will make the decisions on what clogs the top ten lists on the App Store or google play much longer than gamers will.

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Entry filed under: media, my life through software. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

The Ethics of Difficulty Hadn’t seen one of these in awhile

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