Why Unwinnable Games Are Massively Popular
Three explanations for "the Flappy Bird phenomenon"
Flappy Bird, the notoriously difficult mobile game, burst forth in 2013. Now, creator Dong Nguyen has released an even harder game called Swinging Copters. But long before Flappy Bird, unwinnable games were massively popular. Remember Donkey Kong? Here are three theories as to why, despite the odds, players keep coming back.
—Bennett Foddy, assistant arts professor at the New York University Game Center
—Jesper Juul, author of The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games
—Michael Schmierbach, associate professor in the Department of Media Studies at Pennsylvania State University
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Pleasure Of Failure.”