Tongue-in-cheek mobile game comes from a true story

Updated: 2015-02-20 16:02

By Mu Chen(China Daily)

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If laughing in the face of adversity is a definition of bravery then there is no doubting Mark Major's courage.

Seven years after the New Zealander fell down a 9-meter deep hole on Beijing's bustling Guijie ("Ghost Street") and broke his back, he has turned his near-death experience into a tongue-in-cheek mobile game.

"I was interning in Beijing at the time. One night, I was walking to my local 7-Eleven on the corner of Ghost Street and all of a sudden I found myself free falling," recounted Major, via Skype from his home in Wellington, New Zealand.

"About 7 meters down I crashed through a plank, which slowed me down. I believe to this day that the plank saved my life."

He was eventually hoisted out by firefighters and passersby, and taken to hospital where scans confirmed a broken back. He was not paralyzed, though he still suffers pain and upper body mobility has been impaired.

Misfortune of a far milder type occurred last year when he lost his job as an IT manager but in November he decided that rather than wallow in pity he would profit from his accident and unemployment.

He devised a game called Plummet, produced by his start-up company Broken Back Games, and it became available on Jan 10 for free download on Apple Inc's App Store.

In making the game, Major wanted to inspire others to not only overcome the twists of fate but also to realize their own entrepreneurial ambitions.

"It is not hard in today's world to build something like this," Major says, somewhat modestly. "All you need is inspiration, vision and tenacity."

Major, an avid gamer, modeled his game on the successes of titles such as Flappy Bird and Temple Run, with their sole objective of achieving high scores. Plummet lets users assume a cartoon version of Mark as he "plummets" down an endless shaft, tilting the phone left and right to avoid obstacles and continue falling.

With no coding or design skills, Major resorted to online marketplaces for sourcing designers and coders. Eventually, he chose a Romanian engineer to create the game.

The whole process from concept to creation took two months and cost $3,000.

Major hopes the success of Plummet would make his venture a viable full time occupation, adding that with its "China connection" he would love for the game to gain a large following in the country's growing mobile gaming market.

"China has such a booming mobile market with great companies, such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. It would be fantastic to achieve a top-selling game in the fastest growing market in the world," says Major.

The size of China's mobile gaming market reached 7.27 billion yuan ($1.17 billion) by the third quarter of 2014, growing 9.2 percent quarter-on-quarter, according to EnfoDesk Analysys International.

Tongue-in-cheek mobile game comes from a true story

(China Daily USA 02/20/2015 page17)