Piaget…Don’t Play Flappy Bird!

Exploring one’s personality is definitely not the easiest thing to do. One has to possess this awareness and knowledge that would enable him to understand what goes on inside his mind and most importantly, why does he behave the way he does. What we think of ourselves may not be the same as what people think of us and vice verse. There are lots of factors to consider when we try to describe our personalities.

That's what personality is all about.
That’s what personality is all about.

When we were given the in-class exercise to write a sentence about our personality, I stumbled a little. I did not know which aspect I should choose to portray. I had doubts about whether the sentence I wrote is representative of who I really am. What I wrote was, “I am a reader, writer, and artist.” This was the first sentence that came to mind because these are the attributes I love the most. I have always been a bookworm, I always believe in the power of the word and how it can change worlds, and I indulge in almost all forms of arts. I practice some myself, such as drawing and singing. Perhaps these are not the most suitable to describe who I am, maybe other people have a completely different image of me. It is indeed a multi-factorial issue!

That's true indeed.
That’s true indeed.

The game I chose to play was Flappy Bird. I am not actually a fan of games at all so I downloaded it specifically for this assignment. It is a mobile game in which you have to use a bird to get through rows of green pipes. You have to keep tapping the screen so the bird can keep moving. You lose if the bird touches any of the pipes and you then have to start all over.

Yup, that's the infamous game...
Yup, that’s the infamous game…

The first time (and times) that I played this game was actually disastrous. I could not even get pass the first pipe. I tried several times  and several techniques but in vain. I felt really frustrated for not making any progress on the game. I felt annoyed because no matter how much effort I exerted and how many times I tried, I still would lose. I did not feel any sense of reward (because I was not able to make the bird for no more than 2 seconds, obviously) so I was not encouraged to keep trying further because there was no reinforcement. 

Basically me while I played.
Basically me while I played.

After studying Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, I was able to analytically describe my thoughts and behavior while I was playing the game in the beginning. I found that I was trying to find commonalities between Flappy Bird and any previous game I have played before. Thus, maybe then it would be easier to understand the new game in light of an old one. This process is called assimilation, as Piaget called it. I had actually tried to link the game to Super Mario game because I thought it was similar in terms of how the main character has to keep moving forward and to avoid falling or being hit. However, it turned out to be much more difficult. When I tried to fit it into another older schema of mine, I also could not do it.

Assimilation is not a bad thing, actually. It works a lot of time.
Assimilation is not a bad thing, actually. It works a lot of time.

Thus, since Flappy Bird is not like any game I have played before, I had to change my existing schemas in order to be able to fit in this unusual game, a process known as accommodationHowever, this did not contribute in any way to my progress on the game. I still was not able to move the bird for more than 5 seconds!

What probably happened then was a state of disequilibrium. This term refers to the fact that I had tried to apply a schema to figuring out how to win this game but it had failed so I am trying to find another way to it. Nevertheless, because the level of disequilibrium was apparently too much, I became too frustrated and anxious to keep on trying.

Disequilibrium right here!
Disequilibrium right here!

This definitely resonates with any learning model: when something is too complicated, students will not be interested to learn it. When something does not provide some kind of meaningful reinforcement, students will likewise be discouraged to learn it. There would be nothing to keep them going, to spark their interest, to encourage them to explore further. Of course, we would want to avoid such a thing when devising an effective learning model.

When I try to reflect on how I behaved while playing this rather-silly game, I find that this was not how I usually behaved. I was usually the kind of person who likes to keep trying until I get it right. So I was a bit confused as to why I had given up on this game before even getting to at least one level up. But perhaps according to my schema, this was not something worth the effort that much so it would be better to save it for something more substantial *deletes game from phone*

– All images are hyperlinked to their original sources.


2 thoughts on “Piaget…Don’t Play Flappy Bird!”

  1. Hi! Thanks for this really well-written reflection! What a really straightforward way to explain Piaget and… I know that game, i couldn’t get past the second pipe either and was kinda hoping you would tell us eventually! But I also totally get why you would not be motivated – versus another game 2048 that I have never “won” but I was motivated to keep trying and I progressed a lot. Maybe it’s silly, just because the game has numbers in it, I think it’s a more meaningful learning opportunity than the flappy bird one? I don’t know.
    Thanks for this!

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