Is Flappy Bird Really Addictive? | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Is Flappy Bird Really Addictive?

Some may find Flappy Bird's creator deciding to pull the game for being too addictive ridiculous, but studies have shown that behavioral addictions are just as real as substance addictions.

Image: 

Just like drugs? Photo via

By Bryan Le

02/20/14

| Share

Just last week, Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen pulled his incredibly lucrative mobile game from online markets everywhere, turning his back on $50,000 a day because he feared it was too addictive. "Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed," Nguyen said in Forbes. "But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it's best to take down Flappy Bird. It's gone forever."

But is it true that games like Flappy Bird - which has no direct chemical effects like drugs or alcohol and no one-in-a-million big payout like gambling - are as addictive as drugs and gambling? Turns out that the answer just might be yes.

Like more traditional addictions, playing video games stimulates the brain with dopamine and can over time have an adverse effect on players' every day lives. Gamers can begin developing signs of addiction, like constantly dwelling on a game, allowing the game to intrude on relationships, and becoming restless and irritable when not playing it.

Some may believe that behavioral addictions like gambling and video games aren't as addictive or represent a weaker form of addiction than substance abuse. But recent studies have suggested this is not true. A 2013 study showed that like drug addicts, highly addicted gamblers have fewer dopamine receptors than the general population. This means that both drug addicts and gamblers need more stimulation than a non-addict in order to feel good.

Video games, including mobile games like Flappy Bird, stimulate a lot of the same psychological traps as gambling. When a game is lost, so-called near-miss outcomes leave players so close to victory that they feel like they didn't lose and instead almost won. Then there's the "gambler's fallacy," the often false belief that if a player has been playing long enough, then they are bound to win soon or later, which results in people playing for much longer periods of time. Add in the social factor - like sharing on social media with Candy Crush or playing online with a community like World of Warcraft - and the gaming habit becomes even harder to kick.

Regardless of popular opinion, the reality of video game addiction has at least earned a mention in the DSM-V as needing "more clinical research" while inspiring the rise of video game rehabs all over the world, including in the United States.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
PMS: A Natural Threat to Sobriety

I remember slamming things around the kitchen one night and feeling like I’d lost my mind. I was angry about something so minor, I literally can’t remember what it was and I don’t know that I knew then either

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv