The Web Log of Jon Henshaw

🐦 The Flappy Bird creator is the only real friend you have

Written by , published on and related to πŸ€” Philosophy

Flappy Bird game

In a world of games like Candy Crush, game creators borrow from psychology to intentionally make their games as addictive as possible. Players then allow these games to rob them of their precious time. Time away from socializing, relating, loving, and even creating.

If the game creators are lucky, they can make a lot of money. The end result is a profitable company and a sea of people who wasted their time and potential on nothing.

And then you have Flappy Bird.

The creator of Flappy Bird wrote the game in a week and over time, it became one of the most successful games on iTunes. At its peak, it was making $50,000/day in advertising. And then Dong Nguyen, the game’s creator, removed it.

Dong Nguyen told Forbes:

β€œFlappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed.”

β€œBut it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

Lan Anh Nguyen, Flappy Bird Creator Dong Nguyen Says App ‘Gone Forever’ Because It Was ‘An Addictive Product’, Forbes

So there you have it. Dong Nguyen is the only person looking out for your best interests in this cold and dark gaming world. He would rather you do something with your life than allow himself to get filthy, stinking rich.

Update March 11, 2014

Rolling Stone caught with Dong Nguyen and was able to get him to further elucidate his decision to pull the game.

But the hardest thing of all, he says, was something else entirely. He hands me his iPhone so that I can scroll through some messages he’s saved. One is from a woman chastising him for “distracting the children of the world.” Another laments that “13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it’s addicting like crack.” Nguyen tells me of e-mails from workers who had lost their jobs, a mother who had stopped talking to her kids. “At first I thought they were just joking,” he says, “but I realize they really hurt themselves.” Nguyen – who says he botched tests in high school because he was playing too much Counter-Strike – genuinely took them to heart.

By early February, the weight of everything – the scrutiny, the relentless criticism, and accusations – felt crushing. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus, didn’t want to go outdoors. His parents, he says, “worried about my well-being.” His tweets became darker and more cryptic. “I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine,” read one. “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.” He realized there was one thing to do: Pull the game. After tweeting that he was taking it down, 10 million people downloaded it in 22 hours. Then he hit a button, and Flappy Bird disappeared. When I ask him why he did it, he answers with the same conviction that led him to create the game. “I’m master of my own fate,” he says. “Independent thinker.”

David Kushner, The Flight of the Birdman: Flappy Bird Creator Dong Nguyen Speaks Out, Rolling Stone

Near the end of the article, the author, David Kushner, asked him “will Flappy Bird ever fly again?” His answer was maybe, but it will have to come with the warning, “Please take a break.”