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Kuwaiti kid's iPhone app hits 900,000 downloads

By Barry Neild for CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Teenager Abdulrahman Alzanki's iPhone app has been downloaded 900,000 times
  • His simple physics puzzle was offered free via Apple's iTunes website
  • He is selling a follow up game for $1 and hopes to study at Stanford University

(CNN) -- Unusually for a teenager, Abdulrahman Alzanki doesn't enjoy computer games. Even more unusually, he creates them -- and they're wildly popular.

At the tender age of just 14, Alzanki has authored an Apple iPhone app that has been downloaded no less than 900,000 times, a success story he hopes will propel him onto greater things.

Alzanki created "Doodle Destroy," a deceptively simple puzzle of manipulation and gravity, in his bedroom in Kuwait earlier this year after a friend suggested he try his hand at inventing a game.

"I don't really like playing games on the iPhone or any other device, I get bored," he told CNN.

Creating games, on other hand, proved more of a thrill.

The schoolboy developed his first app using game-authoring software GameSalad, but designed its endearingly rudimentary ballpoint-style graphics himself.

In it for the challenge rather than the money, Azlanki offered "Doodle Destroy" as a free download via Apple's iTunes website, little suspecting how popular it would be.

I don't really like playing games on the iPhone or any other device, I get bored
--Abdulrahman Alzanki, teen programmer
RELATED TOPICS
  • Kuwait
  • Video Games
  • Apple iPhone

First published in April, the game clocked up almost half-a-million downloads within a few months, a figure on course to double by the end of the year.

"Doodle Destroy" initially garnered mixed feedback but as he tinkered with it (in between sitting school exams) to refine the gameplay, the reaction has been overwhelmingly upbeat.

"I had a lot of negative reviews at first, but now they're mostly positive. The reviews have been really encouraging," he said.

One review on the App Discover blog reads: "There's something about Doodle Destroy that's instantly addictive.

"I usually play only a couple of levels of a game before reviewing an app but I'd played through twenty-two of the game's twenty-nine levels before I forced myself to put my iPhone down and start writing this review."

Other reviewers focus on Alzanki's own disclaimer of being "a 14-year-old developer from Kuwait."

"I loved this game it was tricky and smartly made best game ever and I can't believe ur only 14 again amazing," reads one among a mixed bag on appcomments.com.

Another says: "While a lot of kids your age are out getting themselves into mischief you're busy making fun games for others to enjoy ... I'm impressed, and I'll bet your family is, too."

They are, says Alzanki, who credits his six older brothers and his parents as the inspiration behind his precocious talent.

"They've been really supportive, and they're very proud," he says, adding that lessons in math and physics at Kuwait's Rawd Al Salheen school have also come in handy.

Keen to capitalize on his success, Alzanki has taught himself programming to create a more sophisticated follow up, "Doodle Destroy II" which he is selling for $1, and an entirely new free game "Vanish Balls."

And he's already set his sights on gaining a place at America's prestigious Stanford University and a career in video game programming.

"I want to get involved in creating games for things like the X-Box, games like 'Call of Duty,'" he said.

But, though he is content to spend "a month or two" developing each app, Alzanki still isn't lured by the game-playing pursuits enjoyed by his teenage peers.

"I prefer riding my BMX, or at least I used to before I started getting into in-line roller skating," he adds.

 
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