Flappy Bird, Fame, and the American Dream

The first time I played Flappy Bird on my iPhone, I thought,?Okay, this game seems kind of fun.?

The second time I played Flappy Bird, I thought, Wow, this game is kind of hard.?

The third time I played Flappy Bird, I wanted to set my phone on fire, then throw it across the room, then drown it in the toilet.

Because the game is hard. Really, really hard. Almost as hard as the original Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles game for Nintendo. Almost as hard as the last level of Super Mario Bros. 2.?But the game is also kind of addicting, so you get stuck in the endless cycle of playing, dying, playing, dying, playing, swearing in your head, dying, almost swearing out loud, playing, saying a fake swear, like “sugar”, and dying. It’s kind of like drugs, except without the horrible withdrawl symptoms and the need to rob a bank to pay for your next fix. It’s kind of like the lottery, except you win the lottery more frequently.

The game is/was massively popular, and, according to some reports, the creator of the game, Dong Ngyuen, was making $50,000 per day from the game. The game had more than 500,000 four star reviews in the Apple App Store. I say “had”, because Dong Ngyuen suddenly decided to remove the game from the store. According to Ngyuen, he simply couldn’t take it anymore.

This series of events strikes me as simultaneously amazing and predictable. Dong Ngyuen reached the top. He achieved the American dream of being rich and being able to make money doing what he loved. Yet, when he finally got to the top, Ngyuen discovered that it’s not as great as everyone thinks. He achieved his dream, then realized that his dream was ruining his life.

The entire Flappy Bird saga is a reminder that, apart from Christ, everything is vanity. You may achieve your dream, but if you don’t have Jesus you’ll soon discover that your dream was rather hollow. Cynthia Heimel wrote:

I pity [celebrities]. No, I do. [Celebrities] were once perfectly pleasant human beings…but now…their wrath is awful…More than any of us, they wanted fame. They worked, they pushed…The morning after…each of them became famous, they wanted to take an overdose…because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and…happiness, had happened. And nothing changed. They were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable. (Quoted by Tim Keller in “King’s Cross”, pg. 29)

I'm a husband, dad, writer. I created The Blazing Center and have written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook . If you benefit from the site, would you consider being a supporter?