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Ear to the Ground

‘Flappy Bird’ Creator Finally Explains Why He Said ‘No’ to Fame and Fortune

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Posted on Mar 11, 2014
Naka Hide (CC-BY)

Dong Nguyen’s supremely addictive iPhone game was earning him $50,000 a day, and an equal helping of hate mail.

Eventually the young Hanoi, Vietnam, native took his game offline, shocking pretty much everyone.

Speaking to the press for the first time, Nguyen told Rolling Stone that he could relate to the people sending him terrible notes about how his game was destroying their lives. He had been there. And he never wanted the attention, he says. But all that money? “I’m master of my own fate,” he told the magazine.

Nguyen revealed, however, that he has three new games in the works and will launch one of them soon. Get your thumbs ready.

Rolling Stone:

As news hit of how much money Nguyen was making, his face appeared in the Vietnamese papers and on TV, which was how his mom and dad first learned their son had made the game. The local paparazzi soon besieged his parents’ house, and he couldn’t go out unnoticed. While this might seem a small price to pay for such fame and fortune, for Nguyen the attention felt suffocating. “It is something I never want,” he tweeted. “Please give me peace.”

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.

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—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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