Tween's Game Tops iTunes List, Unseats Angry Birds

Robert Nay, 14, creates #1 free game in Apple's iTunes.

ByABC News
January 17, 2011, 6:46 AM

Jan. 17, 2011 -- Watch out, Mark Zuckerberg. A new programming prodigy is hot on your heels.

But he isn't based in Silicon Valley or any of the country's other high-tech corridors. He lives in Spanish Fork, Utah. Oh, and one more thing: he's just 14 years old.

Robert Nay is only in the 8th grade, but over the past couple of weeks, an iPhone application created by the young computer whiz has become one of the hottest smartphone applications around.

During the past two weeks, his free game "Bubble Ball" has been downloaded more than 2 million times. Last week, it nabbed the #1 spot on the list of free games in Apple's iTunes store, knocking the ever-popular "Angry Birds" game to #2.

"I was pretty astonished," Nay said about the game's success. "When I released it, I didn't think it would do so well."

Nay's mother, Kari Nay, said that like most young teenagers, Robert and his friends enjoy playing games on their iPods. But Robert started building a game of his own after a few friends suggested he give it a try.

"Since they know Robert's good with computers, they suggested he make one," she said.

Robert, who built his first website in the 3rd grade, said, "why not?"

He did some research in the public library and found a program, Ansca Mobile's Corona SDK (software developer's kit), that would help simplify the task.

For more than a month, Robert spent a couple of hours each day on the game, ultimately writing more than 4,000 lines of computer code, his mother said.

Kari Nay said she helped him design some of the puzzles in the game, but he came up with the concept and did everything else on his own.

According to its App store description "Bubble Ball" is a "fun, new physics puzzle game, where you will test your ingenuity and thinking skills to get the bubble to the goal."

Robert said he enjoyed creating the game, which was somewhat inspired by features of his own favorite iPod games, but it wasn't always smooth sailing.

"There were some times when I felt like, 'can people seriously do this?' It seemed impossible," he said. "But then there were times when things just worked and I'd be like 'maybe I can actually do this.'"