A New Zealander who fell down a 9m hole in China and broke his back has released a video game inspired by the almost-fatal experience.

Mark Major, 28, said he needed to find a positive spin on the horrific incident that left him with a squashed vertebra.

So he developed a free mobile gaming app that features a cartoon version of himself freefalling down a never-ending abyss.

"It has awesome cartoon graphics that are based on the real hole and myself, although my hair is not so ginger," Mr Major said.

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Plummet Free Fall was launched on iTunes this week and has already been snapped up by more than 1500 users.

Players tilt their smartphones left and right to move the character down the Beijing construction shaft. The further they fall, the higher the score.

The turns in the hole are randomly generated so each game is different.

Mr Major was doing an internship in China in 2007 when he walked to his local convenience store to buy some drinking water.

"My last memory is walking up the steps of the 711 and going down a 9m hole, which was covered by perforated plastic that acid rain had corroded. I just went crashing through it," he said.

"My sole memory is just free-falling and hitting a plank of wood about 7m down. It slowed me down and was highly likely a lifesaver."

After he shouted for help for about an hour, a passerby finally looked into the void. "I spoke to them in rudimentary Chinese and they were able to get a fireman," said Mr Major, who now lives in Wellington.

"He abseiled down with a rolled-up stretcher and attached me to that. He then got 15-20 pedestrians off the street to pull me up."

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While he suffered minor nerve damage and still endures daily pain, he considers himself lucky to have regained full movement of his limbs.

"I had to put a different lens over it," the entrepreneur said.

After hiring a designer in Serbia, and a Romanian app developer, he worked through countless New Zealand nights, because of the time difference, to get it finished.