The Strange Story of 'Flappy Bird,' the App That Ruined This Guy's Life

The Strange Story of 'Flappy Bird,' the App That Ruined This Guy's Life

Before the game "Flappy Bird" gained massive popularity overnight, the Vietnamese 29-year-old indie game developer Dong Nguyen was relatively unknown.

But when the app went on to earn him an estimated $50,000 a day and it was all anyone could talk about, Nguyen became extremely stressed and announced to fans on Twitter yesterday that the game had "ruined his life." To everyone's astonishment, he also announced he was going to delist the game from all app stores:

Is this purely a marketing stunt? Nguyen provided little information to fans yesterday except to allude that he was pulling the app for personal reasons.

Consequently, Flappy Bird addicts became livid after the game was delisted and Nguyen started receiving a plethora of death threats and combined homicidal-suicidal missives.


The story got even more bizarre when one media organization wrongly reported that Nguyen had committed suicide.


In an exclusive interview with Forbes, Nguyen revealed that he pulled the game because it was addictive: "'Flappy Bird' was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, ... [b]ut 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."

Forbes' Lan Anh Nguyen, who interviewed Nguyen in a hotel in Hanoi, said that the developer "appeared stressed" and "smoked several cigarettes" during the 45-minute interview while doodling "monkey heads on a pad of paper."

Since Nguyen pulled "Flappy Bird" from app stores, the game has hit the virtual black market, and phones with the app already installed are currently priced at thousands of dollars on eBay.

The popular game's demise paints a picture of how detached the virtual world can be —physical, psychological and emotional. We think we're connecting, but to what or whom? Nguyen's decision, both stemming from and symbolized by his frantic behavior and anxiety, is arguably a bold interjection into this disconnected virtual world.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Marcie Bianco

Dr. Marcie Bianco is a Staff Writer at Mic, a Contributing Editor at Curve Magazine, and an adjunct associate professor at Hunter College. She has contributed to AfterEllen, Feministing, The Feminist Wire, The Huffington Post, Lambda Literary, XO Jane, and The Women’s Review of Books. She writes and lectures about ethics, from feminism to race relations. Her current writing projects include a manuscript about lesbian academic affairs and a collection of feminist essays.

MORE FROM

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."

What does Sean Spicer’s resignation mean for the rest of Trump’s inner circle?

Many are already wondering if Spicer's departure could portend more shakeups to come.

How the messy New York City subways are hurting vulnerable New Yorkers the most

The New York subway system is a mess — and here's who's suffering the most.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."

What does Sean Spicer’s resignation mean for the rest of Trump’s inner circle?

Many are already wondering if Spicer's departure could portend more shakeups to come.

How the messy New York City subways are hurting vulnerable New Yorkers the most

The New York subway system is a mess — and here's who's suffering the most.