Look, I get frustrated at the best of times with the ignorance and stupidity of people inside and outside the games industry. Their self egocentric, arrogant attitudes and complete lack of any form of empathy for any opinions other than their own drive me to frustration virtually every day (and yes, I do see the irony there), however events over the past week have led me to believe that the industry has finally got its self-important head stuck so far up it’s own arse, that it really can’t see what it is walking straight into.
So, Flappy Birds. Or, Flappy Fucking Birds as it has been commonly called on social networks. Here was a simplistic, difficult but damn addictive little game from a guy in Vietnam that did nothing for nearly a year before exploding up the charts and capturing the hearts of the mass market of mobile gamers — and introducing them to a gameplay mechanic that didn’t involve asking friends for help — and the ‘industry’ HATED it. Well, that isn’t entirely true, most people appreciated it for what it was, a small but tough game taking design and visual cue’s from other products (something that nearly every other title does).
So why all the fuss? Why did the industry essentially implode on itself in a frenzy of outrage and utter bullshit? Ignorance? Stupidity? Fear?
In all likelihood it was all three, but mainly the latter. Developers, or rather those who call themselves developers and look down their nose at ‘others’ who create games for the ‘mass market’ suddenly realised that the gaming taste of ‘mass market’ they have feared for many years was ever so slightly changing and was starting to appreciate the frustration of an incredibly tough game whose mechanic only ever made you feel that failure was YOUR fault. This was an area that had been held by the ‘hardcore’ and was deemed (and I too thought this) not really suitable for the mass market who enjoyed matching their three candies (and don’t get me started on King. Some people need to read up on their IP law before coming up with the streams of bullshit that accompanied that story!) and didn’t appreciate a truly difficult challenge. Were these ‘traditional’ developers getting afraid that they too would soon be making Barbie Match 3 Saga soon?
And so to the journalists. Although, I was always under the impression that a journalist was meant to write about news and investigate facts as it appeared to me that all of a sudden, the mainstream industry sites become dedicated to opinion pieces on how the Flappy Birds phenomenon was detrimental to the industry. This is where it started to get quite amusing as certain elements of the press did some of the quickest face changing ever seen with the print freshly drying on their King ‘candy’ word outrage as they started to lambast Flappy Birds use of green pipes as obstacles.
Now I actually quite like most game journalists – most of them are nice people who just want to write about something they love but they have to be getting fearful for the changes going on in the industry at present. I’m not convinced the new gaming markets get their recommendations and reviews from gaming sites, and definitely not the major ones that don’t really cater for the current batch of casual titles. Traditional gaming will of course remain via PC and console, but surely the number of writers will diminuish over the coming years?
Anyway back to the flapping. After a week or two of great chart success, the author decided to pull the game. This was then greeted with howls of derision and astonishment that someone who was (supposedly) earning so much could NOT want to continue rolling around in his bed of cash (I couldn’t get the image of Huell in Breaking Bad lying on that cash out of my head). What was completely ignored was that the author may well have earned more money in a weekend that his peers in Vietnam may have earned in a lifetime, and money does not always buy happiness! Anyway, it has fuck all to do with anyone else but still the story ran and ran and comment threads all over the internet were glowing red — all over a one button game mechanic, a bird, an annoying sound effect and Nintendo’s green pipes.