Ridiculous Fishing Dev Feels Guilty About Making So Much Money
You’ve probably heard of Ridiculous Fishing, it’s one of the most popular mobile games out there and yet almost as simple as Flappy Bird albeit far more original and creative.
One of the game’s developers, Rami Ismail, says he feels guilty about the amount of money he’s made off Ridiculous Fishing while his mom has to get up and drive to work like a normal person.
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In a new feature at The New Yorker, Ridiculous Fishing and Super Meat Boy designers open up on what can happen after your game strikes gold and you become rich overnight.
Ismail and and his business partner Jan Willem released the game in March last year and by the time they’d woken up the next morning, the game had made dozens of thousand of dollars. Crazy, right?
Typically you’d imagine the feeling upon waking up would be elation but instead Rami Ismail felt guilty.
How dare he feel guilty about making money.
“Ever since I was a kid I’ve watched my mom wake up at six in the morning, work all day, come home, make my brother and me dinner–maybe shout at me for too much ‘computering,'” he said. “My first thought that day was that while I was asleep I’d made more money than she had all year. And I’d done it with a mobile-phone game about shooting fish with a machine gun.”
It’s not that sacrifices weren’t made to produce Ridiculous Fishing. Working out of a makeshift office, the pair lived on a diet of Ramen. It surpassed 1 million in sales within the first six weeks after release. It’s a great indie success story.
What’s greater still is that the money didn’t go to their heads but was rather humbling.
“Somewhere in the back of your head you know that you worked hard, that you sacrificed your stability, and you took on the risk of financial ruin for a long while,” Ismail told me. “You did things that other people were not willing or capable of. And that paid off. But, even so, it feels awful. I couldn’t get rid of the image of my mother in her car, driving to work.”
Super Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen is also featured in the New Yorker piece. He warned that his rise to financial prosperity is something people might see and latch onto without understanding the full picture.
“I don’t like the feeling that I’ve perpetuated a myth that people can get rich making games,” McMillen said. “The money has made relationships complicated,” he added, noting that distant family members and old acquaintances have reached out to him for financial assistance.
“I’m just a guy who makes games. I’m an artist who likes to be alone. This success has artificially elevated me; it’s caused jealousy, even hatred. If my games hadn’t sold, I would be in my crappy one-bedroom apartment making more games.”
“Maybe I’d be even happier than I am today.”