Why Did People Love Flappy Bird?

Why Did People Love Flappy Bird?

Okay, it’s pretty simple. There’s a bird,
you tap on the screen to make it go up, you don’t tap on the screen to make it go down.
There are pipes, if you hit the pipes or the ground, you lose. That’s it. And yet people
freaking love it, or maybe they hated it just the right way, because well it is maddening. Top score 29 right here and not intending
to ever beat it until, you know, that little spark of something occurs to me. Maybe, maybe
I can beat that score. I mean 29 is just on away from 30, and 30 would be such a nice
round number. And then I’m playing again, and I’m playing and playing until I hit 30.
But then, then I can keep my streak alive and the thrill begins, I’m freaking out because
every new gap is another step toward 40 or even 50. AHHH!
Okay 36, that’s good enough, that’s as far as I need to go. Until the cycle starts again. So why, why do I keep doing this? Why do millions
of people keep doing this? Why are our brains so dumb?! It’s actually fairly well studied,
not with Flappy Bird specifically, but with gaming, and more importantly with gambling.
This turns out to be similar, though of course not as worrying as gambling addictions.
Our bodies and brains are designed for achievement. What that achievement is defined as is partially
innate, like finding a suitable mate, and partially cultural, like getting a great job
or scoring touchdowns in football. Whatever those achievements are, our brains crave them,
and when we achieve, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good, particularly dopamine. We sometimes talk about dopamine like it’s
just the chemical that makes us feel good, but it is oh so much more than that. Feeling
better when you achieve is nice and all, but what your brain really wants is to find the
pattern that leads to the eventual achievement. So if you ascribe value to doing well in Flappy
Bird, which of course is what games are designed to make you do, and then you do well, then
you get that feeling of achievement. That pulse of dopamine. But your brain is also
recording the actions that led up to that feeling, and it thinks ‘how can I make this
happen again?’. “Well last time all I had to do was play a little Flappy Bird for a
little while, so let’s try that out.” Suddenly just turning on Flappy Bird, starting the
game, gives you a little bit of dopamine, a precursor of what’s to come, an encouragement
to go for that achievement. Dopamine, it turns out, is one of the keys to habit formation.
The rage? Well that’s part of it too. It’s your brain wanting the reward, following the
pattern and not getting there. That rage is not designed to make you stop playing the
game, it’s designed to make you try again, try harder, to break through that wall and
achieve your reward. This is an excellent system for getting food
and sex. Pleasure to make you enjoy it, habits to enforce the previous pathways that led
to it, and blinding rage to make you incapable of accepting failure. Of course, it’s all
more complicated than this, because your brain is extremely complicated. Your craving for
Flappy Bird is certainly a 21st century addiction, but it’s based on neurochemistry that is far
older than our species, and that’s pretty freaking weird. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
and thanks especially to all of our Subbable subscribers. If you have any questions or
ideas for us, we’re in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter, and if you want to keep
getting smarter with us you can go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe.


  1. That korean guy is K.Will. I think ^_^ 😀 I love his song "please dont" (fan girl). btw, my score on flappy bird is 121. DONT KILL ME

  2. Lol i used to be happy when i got 10 i was crazy when i got 20 i i had the spark that little spark and i got 110 on flappy birds i was so happy

  3. And to think, it took a few nights to create the game itself and yet Nguyen hit the most important points on what makes a game interesting. Amazing job! Too bad it's off the App Store…

  4. How can we get that dose of dopamine from achieving much useful things in life like succeeding in college, etc?

  5. ah ha flappy bird am gonna download it an play it straight away sounds like fun. NOT! its bunch of waste of tym fuckin hate the game played it on ipad once or twice never botherd playing it again. i find watchin paint dry more fun than playn stupid games like that. but i gota say i was addicted to candy crush saga untill i completed all the levels which wer about 420 after that experince never playd candy crush again.

  6. 1:17 Nichkhun and Victoria <3 Sorry, I just had to. 😀

    My highest score is 9. I gave up months ago because I couldn't beat it… why did I? (And please, I know it's a shameful score so don't make fun of me.)

  7. I wonder if this is why people like the game 2048 so much. It would make sense, but I assume there is something else with the love of 2048. I mean, our brains are set up to want to match things, right? 

  8. its these kinds of games that can really change a person, the constant failing and not achieving anything is what makes people mad, not grand theft auto call of duty etc…

  9. maybe not such an awesome thing for MODERN sex sure in cave man days it would work just fine cuz you know you'd have sex but in the last couple of centuries we've been realizing that women are people too 

  10. Omg guys, I LOVE Hank Green but to my K-Pop/Music lovers, did you see the wedding pic they used? It's Nickhun from 2PM on the show "We Got Married" xD

  11. And now games like candy crush fifa ultimate team etc take adsvantage of this and give you the option to buy things to help you get that dopamine rush. Pretty bloody criminal really. How is it illegal to buy and sell drugs to help get this rush but these game developers can trick you into buying there products for a similair effect?

  12. This only works when your high score is reachable. My high score is 92 but it was previously sixty and there is only a slim chance I will get past 92, so I amen't any way compelled.

  13. I already knew all of this, but I love the way you explain it! 
    I deducted myself when I was younger why my brother was addicted to video games but never tried to achieve much with real life. He's never had thrill with real life, be cause he's never felt that he's achieved. But he's always felt increasingly capable in front of an xBox.
    Humankind should strive for more meaningful achievements…

  14. And then after that achievement you wake up with May sickness feeling sluggish as F*** and then you realize that you were playing Flappy bird.

  15. It's annoying to me that Flappy Bird exists. It's such a simple game mechanic that's been around forever, yet people act like it's this cool new thing. Why did it catch on so virulently?

  16. God dammit before this video even starts I can explain it first of all if you wanna dopamine in your system become a doctor and prescribe yourself medicinal weed or others, but when you beat a high score the feeling of euphoria is dopamine and dopamine is what make you happy and dopamine is addicting s you get addicted and test yourself until you get so pissed you can't stand the game anymore. Hank you're viewers should know this you have done to many videos on dopa mine for real this is getting annoying

  17. why are iridium and other rare metals so rare on earth, but apparently common among asteroids, and other rocks in space?

  18. I still play flappy bird… The original one. I've never deleted it from my phone, I hope my phone doesn't break some time, the game would be lost then ^^

  19. I think its because when you play flappy bird, it isn't that fun itself, but you like to compare with your friends and family 😛

  20. I definitely got the okay from my English professor to use this as a source for my final paper on game addictions. WOO!

  21. The creator abused the app store with a spam bot to download the game thousands of times in a short amount of time with no cost. The game's download history showed this) he later took the entire game down permanently after these accusations.

    That's why people "loved" (you really mean downloaded) flappy bird.

  22. And then your rage at not getting the dopamine makes you rage quit the game. I have not once played flappy bird but have rage quit games before

  23. we all love tech.. google is great etc.. but ever consider the carbon footprint cost of millions of tech games addicted people? Maybe those concerned about emissions should be promoting challenging games that don't have that cost? Just a thought.

  24. Victoria and Nichkhun is a beautiful couple but it is a fake one. He was dating Tiffany(another beautiful girl) though.

  25. Why is it that I can raise a baby animal and feel the same connection when being around a baby human?

  26. dopamine doesn't really have the power people keep ascribing it dopamine is involved in the reward system but also in many other brain systems, pleasure addiction and reward are far more about brain circuits than a chemical, dopamine just happens to be used in those circuits

  27. Lol, my high score was 212, I believe. I got so good that I once got over 100 while riding in a decently bumpy car. But then I got bored with it.

  28. I never liked flappy bird it pisses me off because I keep on touching the green thing or whatever that is fuck that game"……….

  29. what do you think if play flapy bird in real world ?
    and it 's : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gosuvndotcom.arstupidbird

  30. I still have flappy bird on my phone over 4 years later. I never deleted it. My high score was 149. I was a god at flappy bird

  31. I guess my brain fail in doing that rage thing because if a game is too hard even if i tried over and over again I'll just gonna abandon it. (I'm looking at you plague inc)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *