The GCSE set topic for Media Studies this year – the promotion and marketing of video games – has been a steep learning curve for me. As ever with a subject like media, the students themselves have been a great source of case study material, and it was during our latest investigation into the marketing of Finnish gaming giant Rovio’s Angry Birds Go! that the students introduced me to Flappy Bird.
For anyone that doesn’t know, Flappy Bird consists of the animated bird pictured above. You tap the screen to make it flap. You have to flap through the gaps in the pipes. That is it. It’s hellishly difficult. I currently have a high score of 7. Whenever I tell Year 11 this, they look at me with a mixture of contempt and pity. My Twitter timeline is haunted by tweets such as:
Curse you damn Flappy Bird.
— tom fletcher (@tommcfly) February 3, 2014
If I’ve learned anything from Flappy Bird, it’s that Flappy Bird would be a really shit bird.
— Jack Howard (@JackHoward) February 2, 2014
Fortunately, I have found a way to turn my frustration into productivity through the wonder of metaphor, because Flappy Bird is the embodiment of the growth mindset. No matter how many times that bird bangs into those damn pipes, it gets up and has another go. Failure is not definitive. My Year 11, with their high scores of 17, 28, 35, and a rumoured 62, have engaged in continuous, deliberate practice of exactly the same dull and repetitive cycle again and again and again, celebrating each tiny incremental step of progress and maintaining resilience where others might descend into mindless rage. I want them to approach their revision with the same dedication and attentiveness as they approach Flappy Bird.
If only they can stop playing it long enough to actually revise.
Intriguingly, the game’s creator, Dong Nguyen, seems to have gone fixed mindset about the game’s incredible success, announcing its removal in a tweet…
I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Clearly he can’t get past his current high score.