In July of 2012, an independent game developer named Dong Nguyen from Vietnam, inspired by what could only be the same angelic muses that visited Poe and Hemingway during their creative slumbers, decided on a whim to create a game consisting of birds smashing into green plumbing.
In all seriousness, the brilliant mind behind the indie craze Flappy Bird created a game similar to others he designed within his .GEARS game development team: a repetitive and difficult throwback to 8-bit retro console games popular in Japan. As someone still addicted to Super Hexagon, VVVVV, and Super Meat Boy, I can attest that with Flappy Bird Nguyen hit a home run out of the park.
But Nguyen was not prepared for the way people grew addicted to Flappy Bird and lost sleep, jobs, loved ones, and emergency doctor appointments because they had to play “one more time,” Dong took time out of his busy day responding personally to every critical and positive response over twitter. Each response took a small piece of his once friendly soul, sending it over the Internet to the millions of people letting him know how Flappy Bird destroyed their lives.
Dong Nguyen said multiple times that Flappy Birds and his other games were not meant to deliver stress and frustration, instead to offer a chance to relax and take a quick break from the stresses of life. The vile corrosion of humanity within the Internet proved otherwise.
When the announcement over Twitter appeared indicating Dong planned to pull Flappy Bird, he received millions of death threats, suicide notes, and more unpleasant messages I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy—let alone a talented game designer with a sudden change in social status. With Flappy Bird being a success, Dong Nguyen and .GEARS made anywhere between $50,000 a month and $50,000 a day in ad revenue from their games. In a country where the average cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City is $750 a month, Dong’s sudden success added some pressure where there wasn’t any before, as indicated in his twitter stream where he indicated he “hasn’t slept for days” and “depression getting worse” mere days before his decision to remove the hit game from the stores.
The world may never know what final straw broke the proverbial camel's back causing Dong to remove the favorite game of many addicted people from the App Store, and forcing people to sell their iPhones and iPads on eBay and Craiglist from $500-$5000 dollars with Flappy Bird still installed, but one thing is for sure: never read the comments.
And to those people sending Dong Nguyen death threats and wishing him harm: shame on you.
Dong: Keep building great, addictive, difficult games and never read the comments, bud.