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There’s been quite a ruckus on Instagram about a gamified filter which allows you to blink your way into the hallowed halls of gaming excellence. If you’re an avid user of Instagram – you’ll probably have tried Flying Face yourself. If not, hours of endless fun await; because if you loved Flappy Bird (and who didn’t, right?) – this is going to hit the spot. Let’s find out a bit more about this phenomenon.

What is Flying Face?

Source: Instagram @dvoshansky

Remember Flappy Bird? It’s the worldwide sensation which took the world by storm back in 2013. Old news, we know. But fret not – like a magical digital necromancer, Flying Face is here to drag it back kicking and screaming from the great beyond.

The original Flappy Bird was deleted by its creator, Dong Nguyen. The Vietnamese video game programmer and artist pulled the game from the App Store about a year after it was released because he felt guilty about its addictive nature.

Although Flappy Birds Family was released in August 2014 – it never really managed to hit the mark as the original did – which took in an estimated $50,000 everyday through in-app advertising alone.

Flying Face, on the other hand, is doing pretty well with the masses.

Now, let’s put aside its popularity for a bit and talk about its gameplay.

So, how exactly does Flying face actually work? Simply put, you control a tiny yellow bird (with your face on it) by blinking. Each blink sends the bird soaring a little higher.

With eyelids of steel, make your way through an eternal landscape of green pipes until your eyes finally call it quits.

But there’s one additional upgrade we ought to highlight – and this one’s for the competitive folks – @dvoshansky, the creator of the game, made things a little more interesting by adding a feature which lets two players compete at the same time. So, if you want to battle it out with your best buddy or partner – now’s your chance!

Who’s behind this sensation?

Let’s give it up for Dvoshansky – now, if you don’t already know how filters work on instagram, gaining permanent access to a developer’s filters requires that you follow them. At the time of this writing, Dvoshansky had close to 4.1 million followers. If that isn’t testament to his success, we don’t know what is.

Flying Face was developed on the SparkAR Studio platform – this might sound familiar to some of you, and that’s because lots of Facebook’s custom filters were proudly brought to you by SparkAR Studio. But if you want to create your own AR Instagram filters for all of that delicious influencer juice – I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer. While SparkAR is open to the public, the opportunity to publish custom creations on Instagram is only open to a select few right now. But the good news is, Instagram will probably be coming out of closed beta come August 2019, so it might not be a bad idea to start getting acquainted with the SparkAR interface.

The history behind AR mobile games

AR might be a common technology now but back in the day? Less so.

As a type of Virtual Reality (VR), its origins are hotly disputed and can be traced as far back as 1968. In its first incarnation, it was known as The Sword of Damocles – a VR set designed to go on your head and so heavy that it had to be suspended from the ceiling. The potential of the technology was readily apparent and AR began to be tentatively applied in a wide variety of organisations, ranging from hospitals all the way to NASA, where it was used to assist in navigation for Nasa’s X-38 spacecraft in 1998.

It was only in 2000 that the first AR game – AR Quake – was created. Unlike Flying Face, which can be loaded on a device that fits nicely in your hand, AR Quake required the player to lug a 16kg rig around.

Fast forward a couple years later; in 2005, developers had managed to shrink an AR application down into the Nokia 6600/6300. This was an AR tennis game – it required players to sit opposite each other and wave their phones like racquets to hit a digital tennis ball. I’m sure you’d all agree that this is a far cry from Pokemon Go. And yet, here we are today.

As technology improves and we gain the ability to shrink more and more processing power into smaller devices, there may one day come a time where microchips are embedded directly onto clothing or wristbands, allowing us to casually interact with AR touchpoints everywhere we go.

Other examples of AR mobile games

But maybe you’re not happy with speculative conclusions. Maybe you want more examples of AR games. Well, we live to serve.

Before Flappy Bird, there was another bird that was the darling of the media. To be precise – it wasn’t just one bird but a whole flock of them. That’s right, we’re talking about Angry Birds.

They’ve also recently launched an AR version of the original game – Angry Birds AR: Isle Of Pigs. It’s almost exactly like the original, but overlaid on real-world environments through your phone camera.

Other notable AR mobile games include The Walking Dead: Our World – where you fight off digital zombies against the backdrop of your bedroom walls and Jurassic World Alive, where you capture many unique dinosaur breeds – from a baby dino on a mannequin’s shoulder in the shopping mall to an energetic raptor hopping up and down on a park bench. We’re not going to lie – the action is probably quite different from actual zombies or dinosaurs running at you in real life – but it’s definitely all a small step towards the future.

We’ve reached the end of this piece and we really hope you’ve satisfied your thirst for AR knowledge. Newly empowered as you are with your knowledge about AR games, go forth! We wish you all the best in your quest for Flying Face domination.