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Flippy Fun and Fears

As anyone engaged in the digital world knows, there is always a new fad on the scene to entertain and distract youth while shocking and terrifying those who care for them.  The latest in this league of legends utilizes the ancient art, sport and entertainment technique of knife-throwing.  Popularized most recently in the virtual world by the release of his mobile game, Flippy Knife, designer Oleg Beresnev has children of all ages flipping and throwing blades of various shapes and sizes to score points, impress peers and avoid homework.

The game echoes the short-lived Flappy Bird, a game reportedly so addictive that the creator, filled with guilt for taking people away from their real lives, pulled it from the digital shelves.  Other designers, perhaps with less moral conviction, quickly replaced it with lookalikes to capture Flappy fans and keep the money rolling in until the next hype came along.

A combination of Flappy Bird and Fruit Ninja with an Angry Birds feel, Flippy Knife is similar to the IRL (in real life) bottle flipping game that has been annoying parents and educators this past year and, therefore, sure to be a hit.  The player flips a “knife” into the air, attempting to “land” it tip-down, or throws the “knife” at various objects like trees and targets to score points.  Coins are earned through play and then exchanged for various “knives”:  swords, machetes, tomahawks, razor blades, et cetera. Of course, advertisers intend to benefit from the game’s destined popularity by offering “free coins” for watching commercial ads.  Other enticements include building a personal knife collection and competing against other players.

flippy knife weapons

Real life Flippy Knife is already being demonstrated all over the internet by famous and wannabe Youtube stars who show off their hits and misses in videos using actual weapons that replicate the game’s arsenal, from pocket knives to hatchets.  Based on the stats, millions of viewers are tuning in from around the world to watch sharp blades fly through the air to land (or not) into wood, fruit and other objects.

Unfortunately, if the success of past weapons-based video games is any indicator, it won’t be long before we’re seeing news reports of increased emergency room visits for IRL Flippy failures; and, as usual, someone will take it too far and get their 15 minutes of fame for turning a virtual game into a real world tragedy.

So, if you’re a parent or caregiver of children with access to a web-enabled electronic screen, you may want to keep an eye on your cutlery and monitor your Amazon cart for sharp selections.  Or better yet, have an open discussion with the children in your care about the difference between the virtual world and the real one.  Studies have shown that our brains react the same to success or failure in either world, but clearly one has the potential for far greater consequences.

Young people may not have the advantage of a fully developed prefrontal cortex or the wisdom that comes from life experience to effectively process these complex psychological responses, but with the assistance of responsible adults, they can be taught to respect safe boundaries and make healthier decisions, especially when there are sharp objects involved.