Tuesday, 25 February 2014

If games are still "the new rock and roll", Is Flappy Bird Punk?

Flappy Bird has been everywhere for weeks, not just everywhere where developers talk and gamers abuse each other online but normal people have read about it in the papers or seen an item on the news.

The reality is of course that Flappy Bird is just a game stripped down to the absolute basics, something that i'm going to, in this totally boat-missing blog, try to equate to Punk, specifically to God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols.

Some gamers got angry about it, they'd been playing overblown, epic prog-rock AAA bullshit for too long to appreciate the simplicity. Refusing to even acknowledge it as a game.

Other more casual gamers, fans of being spoon-fed evil, Simon Cowell style, manufactured, free to play pop shite were similarly unimpressed and even intimidated by the inaccessibility of this new phenomenon.

Even old people have an opinion, they'd heard on mainstream news that it had 'been banned' and pulled from the app store. OK, I'll admit, this isn't quite the equivalent of saying "fuck" on a live news show or getting banned while number one on the silver jubilee but no analogy is perfect.

Kids of course, genuinely love it. I thought the first few I spoke to were just being ironic and of course they were. Sort of. But that doesn't mean they weren't playing it, into it both as a game AND just because it was cooler to be into than Abba or Genesis. 

Now that Flappy Bird is unavailable, Dong Nguyen's other games sit there on the app store like a couple of bad tracks off Never Mind The Bollocks, he doesn't have an Anarchy In The UK equivalent (the only place where my analogy falls down) but i'm looking forward to playing his 'Pretty Vacant'.

Meanwhile hundreds, if not thousands of developers have been inspired to pick up whatever instrument they are prepared to spend five minutes learning (Unity has to be the guitar in this analogy, maybe Photoshop is the drums...) and are making games for themselves.

This has of course pissed off some older game developers who can 'read music' (write low level code, am I stretching this analogy to breaking point yet?) and are now moaning to whoever will listen about how it's all too easy these days.

One thing that those new developers need to realise though is that back in the late '70s, those people inspired to pick up a guitar for the first time by God Save The Queen didn't just form Pistols covers bands.

Of course, I'm being a bit of a wanker to suggest it would mean that. If you look beyond the Flappy Birds clones in the charts to the Flappy Jam entries it is clearly inspiring far more than just clones. The fact that most of them are as unplayable as a 1979 John Peel show was unlistenable only backs up my original, totally non-spurious point.

I'm more interested in seeing where it goes next. In my mind Punk was actually less important than the music it has influenced since.

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