Do you need dynamic difficulty adjustment, branching paths and fine-tuned gameplay to create a game that flows? Not necessarily.
Flappy Bird, before it burned out like a Roman candle, saw thousands of players talk about it in ways that echo the state, but is also an illustration of the downside of flow’s chemical underpinnings: by mimicking the adrenaline and dopamine surge of genuine achievement, it hooked people for much longer than Dong
Nguyen intended. “I just wanted to create a game people could enjoy for a few minutes,” he told the Wall Street Journal, shortly after taking it off the iTunes store. “It was just too addictive.”
From top: Seth Killian, designer; Steven Kotler, Flow Genome Project director; Jamie Madigan, doctor of psychology