Have you heard of Dong Nguyen? You probably wouldn’t recognise him if you passed by him in the street… but I’m sure you’d recognise his most famous game, Flappy Bird. Dong describes himself as a ‘passionate indie game maker’ on his Twitter account, and he’s proven this to be true… he definitely makes games, and he seems pretty passionate (I’m still undecided about his degree of ‘indie’ness).
If you engage with apps or news in the digital world, you’ll know that Flappy Bird was removed from app stores on February 10th after Nguyen received death threats from users via social media. Their biggest problem? The game was too addictive.
I can’t help feeling sorry for this poor ‘indie’ gamer. Sure, he made about $50,000 revenue from advertising per day for a while there (so he’s not really ‘poor’), but all the guy wanted was a simple life to go with his brilliantly simple games. Users complicated his life so much, that he grew to hate his own content.
The thing I like about Dong Nguyen is that he actually had the guts to act. Taking the game down may have seemed like a selfish move, but I tend to think it was a little more heroic – in the end, it’s his game to regulate as he likes. The ultimate creator of content has ultimate control of their content, how it’s used, who uses it and when they can use it. When the user becomes the ruler, the perfect order of the digital world tends to get a little messed up – but Nguyen didn’t give users that satisfaction.
The one small flaw in this, of course, is that he can’t force anyone to delete this game from their device. Deleting a game from the app store doesn’t mean the app magically disappears from people’s home page… but sooner or later we all have to do a major software update, upgrade technology or restore our phones. I said a sad goodbye to Flappy Bird only a month ago when my phone had to be reset.
Although Dong Nguyen had a win with Flappy Bird, we as users have more power than we think. Social media allows us to have a digital voice… one without a tone, a face, and often lacking a personality to accompany it. It’s easy to be a keyboard warrior and get angry about the fact that you can’t beat your high score of 7 points, but behind that game, post or photo is another human being that does have a face and a personality. I wish more creators stuck to their word about content, and our supposed ‘right’ to get our hands on it and get our opinion online.
The other thing I like about Nguyen is that he didn’t give up. On the August 21st 2014, Nguyen released ‘Swing Copters’ – and yes, it looks and vaguely even sounds like Flappy Bird.
After exactly 7 attempts at this new game, I have a high score of 2. After months (and many many hours) of Flappy Bird participation, I thought that my score of 63 might prepare me for Nguyen’s latest game… but it works in a completely different way.
How: The aim of this helicopter game is (unsurprisingly) to go up. Unlike Flappy Bird, you don’t have to continuously tap the screen to stay in the air. Instead, tapping the screen changes your direction, and the direction is influenced by when you tap, and how long the space is between taps.
So far, I’m a fan of the game, and I’m a fan of Nguyen. I’ll let you know how I feel after a few more months of trying to beat my high score.