US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger has been widely labeled a hero for safely landing a passenger jet in the Hudson River last month. Now, as such things are wont to happen in Internet land, a free online game called Hero of the Hudson lets you emulate his success by pulling off an emergency landing of your own.
"Both engines are out," reads the promo on AddictingGames, where as of Sunday night, a few days after the title went online, it apparently had been played more than 1.4 million times. "The plane is too low and too slow to make it to the airport. The fate of the passengers is in your hands."
You use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to gain control of the falling plane before it hits the water from an altitude of 1,500 feet. The game is about as primitive as they come, but on my first try, I nonetheless failed (hey, I was multitasking), landing the plane tail-first in the water and then watching it sink. "The plane crashed!" I was reminded, feeling slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing, even if my passengers were just virtual. The second time, I landed it successfully, to applause. Then I got back to work.
In the last several days the game has been called everything from catchy and fun to "boring, stupid, and offensive." I'd imagine those who survived the trauma might agree with that latter assessment.
CNBC tracked down the team at Orb Games in Kiev, Ukraine, that created the game, and asked the company's CEO what he thought of the feedback.
"We realize that some people think it was heartless to create such a game," Andriy Sharanevych said. "But our thought is different. I'd like to accent that with Hero on the Hudson we wanted to create a game that is very positive in its nature, that gives you hope. And in fact, we deliberately made it very simple to make a successful landing in the game, as this is the game about the miracle and not a tragedy."