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Time to pay respect to Flappy Bird, the best dead game of 2017

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Flap away, little dude

Friends List Flappy Birds

I will never love any game with the same intensity and obsessiveness that I have poured into Flappy Bird.

Released in May 2013, it wasn’t until early 2014 that most people became aware of the game’s existence. By the end of January 2014, Flappy Bird became the most downloaded game on the App Store. Less than two weeks later, the game’s creator, Dong Nguyen, would delete it following mass outcry over allegations of plagiarized gameplay mechanics and designs. Hundreds of Flappy Bird clones would take the original game’s place and, because the core design mechanic was so easy to recreate, often times the cloned version of the game would be technically superior.

Of course, they were still clones. If you wanted to keep the original game, you couldn’t delete the app. With each new iOS update, the threat of losing Flappy Bird loomed, but never happened. When Apple released iOS 11 earlier this year, the company confirmed that developers would have to update their apps to ensure they would be supported by a 64-bit processor; this allowed Apple to rid the App Store of dead apps. If a developer didn’t update the app or game in question, like Flappy Bird, it could be deleted. If you planned to update, you had to prepare to send one last farewell to Flappy Bird. If you didn’t update, Flappy Bird would remain alive and well.

I suspect Flappy Bird means more to me than most people. I don’t think that Flappy Bird is the best game in the world, nor would I ever try to argue that it’s the best mobile title I’ve ever played. (That award belongs to Simogo’s Device 6.) But for someone like myself, who deals with pretty regular, mild panic attacks and finds comfort in repetition, Flappy Bird became a go-to coping mechanism.

Out of all the coping mechanisms in this modern, internet-enabled world, why would I turn to a game about a bird trying to fly through a series of pipes? Flappy Bird’s main gameplay hook, which many people found to be frustrating, was soothing for me. I had to tap the screen at just the right time and, the more I played, the calmer I felt. I could focus all of my attention on tapping, watching as the bird sailed through the clear blue sky behind him.

Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap.

When I played Flappy Bird, I went into a zone where everything I’d worried about a moment ago didn’t matter. Those concerns didn’t disappear, but I was able to push them to the back of my mind as I focused on the dopey, pixelated bird in front of me. That sense of calmness the game gave me became more medicative than anything else I had at the time and I came to rely on it.

Flappy Bird achieved that special magic trick of entertainment: it removed me from reality for the briefest of moments — just long enough to calm my panicked mind down, get my breathing under control and stop digging my nails into the palm of my hands, which I do whenever I’m in that position.

Over the years, I’ve tried to find a replacement app for Flappy Bird. I used Twitter and Instagram for a while, but the latter fed me disappointment over my life not being as glamorous as my friends’ and the former, well, there were people on Twitter who were more than happy to shout my inadequacies back at me. Neither of these feelings are ideal when you’re trying to cope with a pressing panic attack.

But Flappy Birdsafe, learnable, willing to just let me be gave me a faux sense of pride. “I’m good at this,” I would tell myself. “I can do this.”

It may seem strange to someone who doesn’t question themselves and their abilities — or literally anything and everything else — on a daily basis. Why would a half-decent score in Flappy Bird administer a feeling of accomplishment and pride? I couldn’t tell you, but that fleeting relief was enough to clear my head and let me continue with my day.

Countless other mobile games have come close to giving me the same euphoric sense of relief that Flappy Bird did — Doodle Jump is the closest I can think of — but even now, I haven’t been able to find a game with the same therapeutic sensation Flappy Bird provided.

Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap tap. Tap. Tap tap. Tap.

Flappy Bird finally died this year, and yes, most people forgot about it long ago. I never did, and I’ll spend a long time trying to find something that comes close. For now, I just want to give Flappy Bird the respect it deserves.

I don’t think it ever really got it.