This Guy Created Angry Bird’s Physics And All He Got Was This Lousy Sweatshirt

This Guy Created Angry Bird’s Physics And All He Got Was This Lousy Sweatshirt

A few years ago, in 2006, Erin Catto created some code called Box 2D. It was a simple, free physics system the “math-obsessed PhD gamer” came up with in his spare time and gave away for free.

A year later, the iPhone was released. And suddenly his convenient, effective little code for implementing realistic physics in games was in big demand, and was being used by hit titles like Crayon Physics.

It was also used by Angry Birds. Now Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, has sold so many copies of the game that it’s worth over one billion dollars.

While Box 2D was released for free, and Rovio have no obligation to compensate Catto, you’d think that, as a gesture – especially considering Angry Birds’ gameplay is built on physics – they would have properly thanked him. Maybe sent him a cheque or something.

But no. Catto says all he ever got was a hoodie.

“I have the sweatshirt but actually I have never worn it because it’s red”, he told NPR. “I generally don’t wear red. That’s a silly reason. If they would send me a blue one I would wear it!”

While you’d think all this would be grounds for him to be the world’s grumpiest programmer, he’s actually taken the whole thing rather well. Not only did Box 2D lead to jobs in the games industry (he now works at Blizzard, as a Principal Software Engineer!), but Catto takes pleasure just from other people’s…pleasure.

“Almost everyone says ‘Jeez, Erin, you could have your own island now if you just charged for Box 2D!’ The ironic thing about that is then I wonder what if Angry Birds used something else because I was gonna charge for it? Well, maybe if they used something else that wasn’t as good, maybe Angry Birds wouldn’t have succeeded. And I’m just happy that everyone is enjoying the games.”

The physics and physicist behind the hit game Angry Birds [KPCC, via G4]


  • Well, should’ve included a clause in the products use that stopped it being used for profit. It’s his own fault he ended up with nothing.

    • wtf is wrong with people…is this an epic troll or just a total moron, Blue has gone with total moron and I think he is probably right.

      Also Blue, in this case it’s damn. ^_^

  • good on him, at least rovio gave him some sort of compensation, they could have just ignored his existence, and given him nothing

    and hell, he’s working at blizzard, thats a good enough reward

  • After paragraph 2 I was expecting a massive sob story of the poor genius programmer who never got given any compensation he wasn’t even entitled too, but instead an uplifting story about another human being who’s primary concern in life ISN’T money! Joy

  • Rovio better send him a blue hoodie it’s the least they could do. That or he could spread this a little more and the internet would go into mayhem and rovio would then look like scum.

    Fine that he is happy Rovio is doing well but sending him a blue hoodie would cost them little to nothing and it’s the least they could do.

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