Ridiculous Fishing developer Rami Ismail and his business partner Jan Willem released their game in March 2013, and by the time Ismail woke up the next morning, he had made tens of thousands of dollars from the game. His first feeling was not happiness, but rather guilt.
"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."
Ridiculous Fishing netted more than a hundred thousand dollars during its first month on iTunes and passed 1 million in sales within six months of its initial release. Ismail and Willem began making games together working in a makeshift office space and living on a diet of Ramen noodles. The hard work to release Ridiculous Fishing is not lost on Ismail, but he struggled shaking the feelings of guilt related to the game's success.
"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."
|Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch|
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