We've given you fair ways of improving your high score. We've given you cheats. We've even shown you the reviews of our comrades who have fallen to the game's mighty power. Today, we're taking all that a step further.
Today, we become the "Flappy Bird."
I, Taylor Casti, am going into the mind of a "Flappy Bird" addict by becoming one. For eight hours, I will play the mobile game that some have called "the ninth circle of hell." (OK, so maybe no one has called it that, but I'm pretty sure it was implied.) Eight hours of nonstop gameplay, with 10 minutes each hour to jot down some notes. Sounds easy enough, right?
Oh, except, I should probably point out that I'm really bad at "Flappy Bird." I currently have a high score of 1. Don't judge.
So, please, faint of heart, read no further. Parents, avert your children's eyes. I have a feeling this isn't going to be pretty. Tell my folks I love them, and that I did it all in the name of journalism (or whatever).
Here goes nothing.
9:50 a.m. (One hour completed)
High score: 6
I've finished the first hour, and I have to say, I'm doing a lot better than I thought I would. I have improved my high score from one pipe to six. I am running into a few complications, namely that my arms keep falling asleep from holding up my phone. Adjusting position accordingly.
It's really amazing how quickly your old high scores lose their sense of accomplishment. It took me a solid 30 minutes to get from one to four pipes, and I lost it. I was thrilled. I believe we can fairly describe my method of celebration as "mortifyingly absurd victory dancing."
Then, three rounds later, I hit six pipes.
Suddenly, four pipes was less of an accomplishment. Four pipes was child's play. Four? Who cares about four? Who cares that I only reached six because of a stroke of dumb luck? Who cares that I'll spend the next 40 minutes getting zero, one, two pipes?
I need seven now. Seven.
11:14 a.m. (Two-plus hours completed)
High Score: 6
I've already fallen off my 50-minutes-of-"Flappy"-10-minutes-of-writing schedule, mostly because I fell asleep midway through the second hour. I'm not sure when, exactly, the rhythmic flapping noises lulled me to sleep, but I believe I only snoozed for a short 20 minutes. (Let's call it a power nap, eh?) I woke up disoriented, phone still in hand, wondering what had become of my life.
I also have yet to beat my high score again -- I'm really bad at "Flappy Bird," OK? -- but I have gotten painfully close.
I am, however, really concerned with the shape of this bird. He looks like an orange that has grown one abnormally large eye and two terrifying lips. That's not a beak; those are lips, and they kind of make Flappy look like a fish with wings. (Maybe he's a flying fish? Maybe that's why he's having so much trouble flying? Hmm. Must consider this.)
In addition, his strangely malformed face must be extremely heavy; he always, always, always falls face-first. And even when the ground is rushing up at him (or when I run him into pipes on purpose because he's being particularly difficult) the creature never blinks. This bird/fish must have nerves of steel.
Side note: The constant ads are proving to be a distraction. Xfinity cable. HIV support groups. "Clash of Clans." (I must say, brilliant marketing strategy. I'd play just about anything else at the moment.)
12:50 p.m. (Four hours completed)
High Score: 6
ALL RIGHT, FLAPPY. YOU AND I ARE GOING TO HAVE A LITTLE TALK. YOUR FACE IS CLEARLY MADE OUT OF LEAD. MAYBE IT'S TIME TO GIVE UP ON THIS WHOLE FLIGHT IDEA. IT'S NOT YOUR CALLING. GO GET A JOB AT STARBUCKS, OR GO BACK TO COLLEGE LIKE ANY OF US WOULD HAVE TO.
I know your parents probably told you could do anything you set your mind to, but they were lying. (Hurts, doesn't it?) You can't fly through pipes. And you're never going to be able to with a face full of lead. Give it up, Flappy. Give. It. Up.
Maybe you should take up waddling. Look at penguins. They waddle everywhere and love it. Same with emus, ostriches, kakapos. They can't fly either. Do you think you're better than the kakapos, Flappy?
These are questions you need to ask yourself, Flappy. For both of our sakes.
1:50 p.m. (Five hours completed)
High Score: 6
I'm beginning to hate the number 6. If we're being quite honest, I'm not so big on 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 either. If it's less than 7, I simply have no time for it right now.
I ordered a fish sandwich from this charming little diner a few blocks away and jumped several feet in the air when my doorbell rang. I had forgotten other humans exist. I was convinced the whole world was my smartphone.
I believe the delivery man was frightened at what he saw: the frazzled hair, my pajamas, the crazed look in my bloodshot eyes. But I can't be sure; my eyes didn't leave my phone screen longer than the time it took for me to accurately determine the distance my free hand needed to travel to grab the takeout bag. He may also have been laughing. Again, no one can be sure.
2:50 p.m. (Six hours completed)
High Score: 6
Morale is low. I have yet to beat my high score of 6. I'm ashamed that in a few hours I'm going to turn in this story, and Huffington Post readers are going to see my dismal score. For a few dark moments, I contemplate trying one of the cheats, but my conscience wins out. You can have my soul, "Flappy Bird," but, dammit, you won't take my journalistic integrity.
This about sums it up (except, of course, my score is still less than seven):
That said, the fish sandwich I had for lunch raised my spirits considerably. I should probably consider eating again, but it may distract me from the game. I can't write much this hour. I wasted too much time stuffing my face. Must play.
3:50 p.m. (Seven hours completed)
High Score: 6
Sometime in the middle of hour six, Flappy exhibited strange behavior. The game started, I tapped the screen, but instead of rising, he immediately fell. He's never exhibited this behavior before.
I believe Flappy has given up.
Or maybe he's warning me. Maybe my wings aren't strong enough either. Maybe I'm Icarus, flying too close to the sun. Maybe this will all end in disaster.
Maybe he's just as exhausted as I am.
Because I am exhausted. It has been six hours, and I have six points, all of which I got in hour one. So what have I been doing for the last five hours? What have we been doing, Flappy? Because we're one and the same, you and I, aren't we? Aren't we?
4:50 p.m. (The final hour)
High Score: 9
In the final hour of our time together, I looked more closely at our in-game surroundings. That city in the distance... is it Manhattan? If so, why am I flying parallel to it? Am I in Brooklyn? Or maybe somewhere in New Jersey?
And these pipes. We've been flying among them forever (or so it seems), but have we ever stopped to ask ourselves why? Why are there so many broken pipes in this city, and why don't the citizens of the sprawling metropolis demand better plumbing? Aren't their streets overflowing with sewage? Aren't their showers cold? Is this why Flappy is fleeing? Could this be the reason?
This introspection was abruptly brought to an end by a new high score. I had reached nine points, with only 20 minutes of my eight hours to spare. VICTORY!
I celebrated by deliberately killing Flappy a dozen or so times. Never have I found so much joy in death.
Writer's Note: As I was adding the finishing touches to this story, my boyfriend called. He told me that he had downloaded the game 10 minutes prior and played a few rounds to see why I was causing such a fuss. His high score is 12. If you have any single friends looking for a Valentine's date, I'm now on the market.