Less than two percent of “gamers” are responsible for half the revenues involved in this booming industry — a fact that is both terrifying and sad. However, it looks like some game developers are starting to own up to the addictive nature of their creations, even if they didn’t force anyone to play.
Dong Nguyen, the skilled designer behind Flappy Bird, killed his own game in March 2014 and claimed it was just too dangerous and too many people were getting addicted. This was an unprecedented move, and it helped bring attention to a serious issue.
In an interview with Forbes, Nguyen remarked: “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed. But 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.”
Is killing the Bird the answer?
While it appears that Nguyen’s move was a genuine one, sincerely intended to protect the fans of his game, he’s essentially left a jackpot of winnings behind. It’s been estimated that Nguyen raked in about $50,000 a day from the game, but the developer chose not to confirm that estimate. “I don’t know the exact figure, but I do know it’s a lot,” he said.
A potential issue here is that the interview took place in Vietnamese, so something may have gotten lost in translation. However, most important is that Nguyen, intentionally or not, has brought the issue of game addiction into the public forum.
It’s a condition that sometimes requires extensive physical, emotional, and mental treatment. The developer apparently shares the secretiveness of many gamers: He insisted that his face not be shown and mentioned that his parents didn’t even know he created the game. The 29-year-old generally keeps to himself.
Birds out of control
Flappy Bird has been available for less than a year, having been released in May 2013. According to Nguyen, it only took him a couple of days to code it.
However, even though the young developer has many other games in app stores, such as Shuriken Block (and all are top rated), there are currently no plans to kill other games because he says they are “harmless.”
On the other hand, Nguyen added that if he suspected addiction were to become a problem with any of his other creations, he wouldn’t hesitate to remove them, as well. His heart may be in the right place, but it’s impossible for a non-licensed, non-professional to gauge whether complete strangers are addicts.
Getting another fix
There are scores of Flappy Bird “knock offs” floating around, so it won’t be a challenge for addicts to get their fix. As for Nguyen, he says he plans to continue developing games after a short break from the grid.
Asked if he has any messages for fans of the defunct game, Nguyen’s response was simple: “Thank you very much for playing my game.” For the throngs of people who may be suffering from a documented case of gaming addiction, Nguyen’s move probably won’t cure them.
But it might be the necessary springboard that pushes them to seek professional help.