Angry Bird: Cloning this Generation’s “Viral Game”

Tap the screen to fly. Do nothing and quickly feel the effects of gravity. Send the poor animal through as many Mario-like pipes before you will inevitably fail and see its death. This was the basis for the most viral video game that had ever been seen. Flappy Bird, originally released in 2013 by Nguyen Dong, swelled in popularity near the end of the the year. The simplistic gameplay, addicting nature, and easiness of attainability allowed it to reach #1 on Apple’s free app rankings. Unfortunately, Dong removed the game from the App Store in February of 2014, since all the attention he obtained from its success “ruined his simple life”. As a result, since the game was already so popular, other people began to clone the game and put countless other versions of the same thing on the App Store and the Internet, including a variation where you are a sperm. See for yourself in this video.

As Dr. Sample points out in his work regarding code in video games, we see that “code” does not just refer to the lines of gibberish typed down by pizza-eating millennials. It  also concerns the text, visuals, sounds, and other elements. As Sample put it, “it is a mistake to think about code as always and only instructions to a computer”. The “code” for the majority of the Flappy Bird clones employs the same flying-like controls for each game, with similar variations of shape, color, and presentation. Should doing this be fair, or is it like cheating? Rockstar Games, for example, frowns upon players when they “prepare derivative works” on GTA, which is kind of like what is going on here.  In my opinion, people should not really be allowed to copy a game and earn money off of it like what many “smart” developers did with this sensation. If you do this, you are quite literally “stealing” the code and efforts of one’s original work to make yourself successful , which is what unfortunately happened way too often in the age of Flappy Bird.



Griffiths, Sarah. “Flappy Bird Is ‘Gone Forever’.”, Associated Newspapers, Ltd., 11 Feb. 2014,

Sample, Mark. “Code.” Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon, MIT Press, 2016, pp. 53–62. Dropbox,

“The MANY Clones of Flappy Bird.” YouTube, Google, 21 Feb. 2014,

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