California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Smartphone apps steal valuable time

    From running through temples to catapulting birds, crushing sugary sweets to guiding a bouncing birdie, smartphone game apps have made a name for themselves in pop culture and gone beyond mere distractions to pass time.

    Widely popular games, likes Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds, have become huge industries, racking up millions of fans and selling merchandise of the gameโ€™s iconic characters and symbols.

    Flappy Bird, the most recent mobile game fad, was on its way to joining the list of long-standing elites when developer Dong Nguyen removed the game from Appleโ€™s App Store and Google Play on Feb. 10.

    The game, in which players guided a floating bird between oncoming sets of pipes without colliding into them, was downloaded more than 50 million times and made as much as $50,000 daily thanks to advertisements, according to

    Flappy Bird caused a lot of frustration in players. Videos went viral on YouTube of players so frustrated that they threw their phone in anger.

    Nguyen, who has developed less popular games, told Forbes magazine that he removed the game out of guilt because the game became addictive for players and he could not sleep at night.

    Nguyenโ€™s removal of Flappy Bird is something almost never done in the business world where an addictive mobile app is considered the first step to a long road of success and profit. Nguyenโ€™s ability to put the well-being of his users before the promise of profit is a commendable and rare example of social responsibility.

    Unfortunately, a player being consumed by their mobile game is not something exclusive to Flappy Bird, but what is all the fuss about? A mobile game is simply a mindless way to pass time with no true value or accomplishment involved and those who immerse themselves in the quest for a higher score only distance themselves from more meaningful ambitions.

    โ€œIf people feel like their lives arenโ€™t going exactly the way they want, which a lot of college students are stressed about what their life is going to be like, playing a game like that gives you a false sense of accomplishment,โ€ said Seth Wagerman, who has a doctorate in social/personality psychology.

    Wagerman believes that the popularity of Flappy Bird and other mobile games lies in its simplicity and accessibility, balancing between being too hard to play and too easy to master.
    Sophomore David Avila understood all too well the enticing quality of Flappy Bird when he began playing the game competitively with his roommate.
    โ€œIf my roommate Ryan asked what my score was and his was higher, I felt like I had to beat it. You keep thinking, โ€˜this is so easy I could get such a higher score for sure,โ€™โ€ Avila said.

    Sophomore Garrett Baker, Davidโ€™s other roommate, tried playing Flappy Bird a couple times and found no interest in the game or his roommatesโ€™ obsession with beating each othersโ€™ scores.

    โ€œItโ€™s just competition, itโ€™s just something to talk about. I honestly donโ€™t know why it consumes so many people; itโ€™s just a little game on the phone,โ€ Baker said.

    Although a little competition can be considered healthy, the fight for the highest score on a mobile game is not beneficial for anyone involved. The same time spent vigorously tapping a screen to make a virtual bird fly can also be spent doing just about anything better like talking to a friend, going outside or just taking a moment to disconnect.

    โ€œIn beating a high score, you didnโ€™t really do anything thatโ€™s impactful to the world, but itโ€™s a goal that you were able to set and exceed and that feels fantastic especially if the rest of your life is unsure,โ€ Wagerman said.


    Monica Linares
    Staff Writer
    Published Feb. 26, 2014