You can’t get ‘un-famous’: an open letter to the creator of Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird

Dear Dong Nguyen,

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When I look at Flappy Bird and your fame today, I’m reminded of Dave Chappelle. Back in 2006, he was hailed as one of the greatest comics of America and his TV show was a huge success. But the TV show was too successful for him. According to him, the “popularity of the show was making it difficult for him to continue his stand-up career which was the most important thing to him.”

Then, he promptly quit the TV show and flew to Africa for a year. He wanted time to find himself away from the spotlight. In 2006, Chappelle came onto Inside the Actor’s Studio, where he stated:

You can’t get unfamous, You can get infamous, But you can’t get unfamous.

Chappelle struggled with his public identity, hiding from the spotlight when the light shined brightest, it was this that brought him to his realization about fame and Hollywood.

Now what does all this have to do with Flappy Bird? There are obvious parallels. You created all your games out of a love for the art. That’s pretty obvious from your tweets and now, you’re sounding a lot like Chappelle:

And now that you’re officially taking down Flappy Bird, there are so many profound parallels between you and Dave Chappelle.

So, yes, get out of the spotlight. It’s going to give you the peace of mind you need to refocus on the art and find yourself again. But remember that fame will follow you wherever you go, so hold your head high and be yourself. When Chappelle finally came back on stage for the first time, after travelling to Africa and getting down with who he was, he knew what it was all for:

When I walked out on that stage, and them people were screaming, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Cause this industry can say whatever they want, but man, people will hold you up, and that crowd man, my spirits were so low. And they was just holding me up.

So although the press will hound you, and everyone will speculate about your disappearance from the world stage, just keep going. The gamers will happily await your next game. So be happy, and keep coding.

P.S. We realise that there are a lot of rumours about the potential that some people are trying to acquire you, or that you’ve got some serious PR behind you, or that even maybe you might be hit with some serious taxes in Vietnam, or that you are being pressured by other game creators. But let’s all put that aside. Thanks for a great viral game, see you on the other side.

This article by Anh-Minh Do originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.
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