App-ocalypse

Middletown+students+Logan+Bramhall%2C+Mary+Hillsman+and+Allie+Hough+catch+up+on+social+media+and+games+on+their+smart+phones+during+their+lunch+shift.++

Photo by Taylor Bushey

Middletown students Logan Bramhall, Mary Hillsman and Allie Hough catch up on social media and games on their smart phones during their lunch shift.

By Taylor Bushey, Round table editor

The shrill bell tone signals fourth lunch shift to take place as students grab their bags and money for lunch, pouring out of their classes and rushing toward the lunch line. As soon as students take their seats, they immediately pull out their phones and scroll through social media and, of course, play the latest and quick-to-learn games downloaded from the app store.

Students eagerly open the Flappy Bird app, seeing the title of the game in the top center of the screen along with the iconic bird. There are three buttons in the lower middle that symbolize the rating of the game, the play button and the ranking of all players that have played.

The purpose of Flappy Bird is to get one flying bird in between green pipes that each have different heights by tapping the screen continuously. The difficult part of the game is judging when to let the bird rise or fall between continuous taps.

Each student becomes frustrated with these sorts of games, threatening to throw their phones across the room. It’s not until 10 minutes of this pass when students begin putting their phones down and eating lunch.

Students at Middletown High School come to find that even the most simple of games can become the most addicting. Games that have been around for a while are still all time favorites such as Candy Crush and Flappy Bird.

In opposition, some students try to steer clear from these games. Middletown high school junior, Brendon Harris, said that the games seem irritating and that he doesn’t want to start them, even with that being said most people remain being caught up in the gaming world.

“I find Flappy Bird not really addicting, but a contest,” said Victoria Robertson, MHS junior. “I hear everyone having scores higher than mine so I keep playing just to try and beat them.”

Nevertheless, Flappy Bird was announced to be taken down Feb.8 and was removed from the app store the next day. People speculate that the cause for the announcement was to raise sales—but according to the website Solar News, Nguyen Ha Dong, the creator of the game says that the attention from the game only ruined his life.

Students are surprised and shocked that a game maker receiving fame overnight would not like positive attention from the game.

Other students can’t explain why Flappy Bird and other games similar to them are so addicting.

Jeffrey Colsh, an advanced placement psychology teacher said the mass public will choose a simple game because it’s easy to play and ultimately get hooked onto.

“Chemicals get released and they would be the same ones released as if you’re taking a drug when playing the game,” said Colsh.

“I can only describe it with one word, “pure bliss”,” said Jeremy Brenneman, MHS mathematics teacher.

Similar to Brenneman, students also love playing games in class. When they heard there was a club featuring some of their favorite ones, they jumped on the opportunity.

Michael Malafarina, a social studies teacher, is host of the gaming club that takes place every other Tuesday. Games such as Minecraft, Starcraft, and Halo are the most frequent and popular games played in the club.

His class is most addicted to Minecraft.  “The game has frequent reinforcement, and once you do one thing, you will be able to do something with it,” said Malafarina. “There is some sort of chance of progression or advancement.”

Malafarina also teaches a variety of programming classes that makes games, all ranging from different skill levels.  Most are made for a simple purpose and straight-forward theme.

If not careful, these games can create a negative impact, especially on social interaction.

“When I see people at lunch playing Flappy Bird, I find it kind of sad because it’s your one chance to be able to converse with your friends,” said Colsh.

“I completely agree with Mr. Colsh,” said Mia Kidwell, MHS senior, “Students are more withdrawn from social settings with the overuse of smartphones.”

Something about games eventually lose their audience, however addicting they might be.

“I can usually play these games for several months before getting bored with them”, said Brenneman.

All games lose their audience, usually when a new version is created or when another game tops the charts in the app store.

Games like Angry Birds and Temple Run which were created in 2009 and 2011 have lost the momentum they once had. The creators are still trying to come out with new versions and promotions within the games, but many people have already deleted them to create more space for the new ones topping the charts.

Several weeks later, the same students sit at the lunch tables playing the next big game. They have forgotten or lost interest in Flappy Bird, and are now competing with their friends on different games.

Others get diverse, but similar versions of the game.

Things remain the same. People are still playing a game that constantly frustrates them, and they are still competing to get the highest score out of all of their friends. The most addicting games come in the simplest formats, making students feel irritated and when they can’t conquer the game.