News

Don't get flappy over bird game PEARLS BEFORE SWINESTEPHAN PASTIS

Until this week, I had no idea what Flappy Bird was.

When I read that many Singaporeans lamented the loss of old Flappy, I assumed it was a cute parrot with a broken wing on YouTube.

Those adorable animal videos always go viral on YouTube. If it's not a hamster running up and down a piano, it's a cuddly puppy getting flipped around inside a spin dryer.

The puppy wasn't really my fault. When my daughter said she was going to dry the dog, I thought she meant with a towel. Still, I have no excuse for filming the whole episode with my iPhone.

Don't panic. We haven't really got a dog.

And I'd never stick one in a spin dryer. The electricity cost of running one of those things is a disgrace.

But I searched Flappy Bird on YouTube and found no cutesy clips of one-winged sparrows spinning around in circles.

So I expanded the search and included keywords such as "flappy bird", "jiggling bird", "wobbly bird" and "big and bouncing bird".

By the end of a thoroughly entertaining search, I was none the wiser and my wife thought I was a pervert.

After stepping out of YouTube and back into Google, I discovered that Flappy Bird was a phone app; a mobile game that involves directing a flapping bird through a set of pipes, which sounds riveting.

But Flappy Bird was only a game.

And yet, when its creator pulled little Flappy from app stores earlier this week, people went nuts, weeping and wailing, crying and screaming because they couldn't get their addictive fix of Flappy Bird.

If they're that keen, just chase a few crows around a coffee shop and sling them in the nearest longkang.

Still, this has proven to be the net result of our blitzkrieg, technological advance in mobile devices in the last decade.

We are addicted to games that make Pac-Man look like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration space programme.

And like born-again gamers, we must convert everyone else to our crusade. We invite friends and strangers. Come one, come all, let us unite and play Candy Crush.

My daily Facebook notifications are filled with invitations to play Candy Crush or Throne Rush or Irritable Thrush (it's often something rhyming with crush.)

Just checking my Facebook page now, I have invitations to play Farm Heroes Saga, Throne Rush and Jelly Splash.

I have no idea what any of those games are, but the Jelly Splash might work well with the Irritable Thrush.

Human beings never behaved this way before. Growing up, I never stopped a random stranger, grabbed his arm and said: "You must play the original 1982 edition of Football Manager. Little stick figures make fart noises every time they kick a white dot towards the goal."

Any sane individual would've rejected me by saying: "Thanks for the invitation to play Football Manager, but I don't know who you are.

"Now please remove your hand from my arm. It's not good to impede a police officer when he's trying to direct traffic."

Even if I had behaved in such an unhinged, unstable, slightly aggressive way, I would've accepted the refusal and gone on my way. I most certainly wouldn't have belaboured the point by behaving like a frenzied salesman and saying: "Ah, but can I then interest you in a game of Space Invaders? And take my invitation to play Galaga later, at your own convenience. And this is my personal, gold-plated invite to play Donkey Kong."

"Look, just go away," the stranger would've replied. "If I wanted to play any of these games, I would just play them, wouldn't I?"

"That's true. You're right. I'm sorry… So, er, do you fancy a quick game of Super Mario?"

On Facebook, the notifications are a daily avalanche of invites from game addicts determined to hook as many friends as possible to their product.

Around the darkened void decks of housing estates at midnight, shady characters must sit on concrete stalls muttering: "Need any Flappy Bird? I got the best Flappy Bird, man. It's the bomb."

So the sudden demise of Flappy Bird must be considered a positive first step in a 12-step programme to recovery.

Overcome the withdrawal symptoms, move away from mobile games and do something worthwhile with your life, something honourable, something meaningful.

Like playing the original 1982 version of Football Manager.