“Hero on the Hudson”: Play it on Gadling!

Maybe it’s too soon for this, but there’s already a popular online game inspired by the recent emergency landing on the Hudson River. “Hero on the Hudson” isn’t terribly sophisticated, but it gets the point across. You are in the left seat, acting as US Airways Flight 1549 pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Your plane is headed toward the Hudson River, and you need to take action.

This free game was put together by Orb Games Ltd. The company, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine, has been around since 2006 and is responsible for such popular (and viral) titles as “Duke Nukem Endangered Species,” “Star Wars Galaxies” and “Vivisector: Beast Inside.” Orb also developed games for Nintendo DS and Sony’s Playstation and PSP consoles.

According to company CEO Andriy Sharanevych, the “Hero on the Hudson” was created around a week and a half ago, only days after Sully brought his bird down west of Manhattan. Sharanevych claims that the miracle of the event is what prompted the game’s development: “We just wanted people to understand and not to forget that this is not for granted, so we tried to make a game that would remind everyone about this miraculous event.”

I know I’m a cynic, and I do wonder if this is just convenient admiration to mask just a bit of opportunism (which I really don’t fault anyway). Apparently, I’m not alone.

Find out what users think after the jump, and take your own shot at the landing!Sharanevych has received mixed feedback from users, many of whom have considered the game “heartless.” But, the CEO defends himself with the scripted monologue, “[W]e 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. You can play a role of a pilot, who will save hundreds of lives behind him and bring joy, happiness and hope to millions of people.”

Stunt or salute, it’s definitely brought home results. “Hero on the Hudson was played more than 1.5 million times in the first week it was available. And, more traffic is expected.

Read the entire interview with Sharanevych here.

View our ongoing coverage of Flight 1549.

Ready to play? Click and hold with your mouse, then move it around to try to swing the plane into a safer landing position.


Play Games at AddictingGames

Budget Carrier Rents PSPs to Passengers

South Africa-based 1time Airlines is a low cost carrier. In order to keep their prices low, they decided against adding any built-in in-flight entertainment in their fleet. Not really a problem, because most of the flights are not lengthy. The bulk of their air time is between their hub in Johannesburg and other South African cities like Durban and Cape Town. 1time does have one longer route from Jo’burg to the Tanzanian city of Zanzibar (approximately 3.5 hours).

The airline has introduced a concept of offering portable entertainment on their planes for rent. On select flights, 1time will be offering PlayStation Portable devices for a nominal fee of 60 rand (about $4.80 US). The rental includes disposable earpieces and last for the duration of the flight. This isn’t the first gimmick for 1time. They also use their extra leg room and leather seats to differentiate themselves from the competition. A novel approach? Other carriers have offered video gaming devices in the past. But this time it is in lieu of in-flight entertainment, not in addition to it.

[Via Travelwires]

Gadling’s guide to GPS and location based services

Traveling for me evokes memories of ancient explorers, navigating across vast oceans with only a sextant and the light of the stars and moon. Or the arduous journey of Lewis and Clark as they mapped a slow path across the great wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. We’ve certainly come a long way since then in terms of navigation – in fact the now-ubiquitous availability of handheld GPS units and Google Maps has made finding your way around in unknown places a cinch.

But in fact, GPS and Google Maps is only the beginning. As we saw with yesterday’s new 3G iPhone with built-in GPS, we’re in the midst of a new era of “location aware devices.” This includes everything from from cameras with geotagging to “location-aware” mobile phones which promise to revolutionize the way we travel and gather information for our trips. Follow along and we’ll take you through Gadling’s guide to GPS and location based services.

Mobile Phones and Location Based Services
A whole range of mobile devices are now on the market that can pinpoint your exact location. Companies like Blackberry, Nokia, Motorola and Apple all make devices which can access this information over the network. This has enabled a huge range of new ways to use your phone, from getting turn-by-turn driving directions to more advanced applications that combine the power of social networks with your location. Services like Where and Socialight not only know where you are, they also let you access location-specific “tags” left by other users in popular locations. Want to know the best place to grab a drink when most bars close at 11pm in London? Find the closest late-night pub by subscribing to Socialight’s “Late London” channel. Looking for a place to cool off this summer in the Northeast United States? Check out the “Swimming holes” group. Drank too much coffee this morning? Better get MizPee. The best part of all this is that the recommendations are based on your location, so you can find the most interesting/useful spots closest to you relatively quickly – no guidebook required.


Geotagging and Photography
Not only does your mobile phone know where you are, your camera is also getting in on the act too. Tools like this Sony GPS unit let you add location data to your snapshots, providing a whole new dimension to your digital scrapbook. Perhaps you’re trying to track down that street in Austin where you took a photo of the great Mexican restaurant? Not a problem, just check out the location data embedded in your image and the next time you’re there, you can swing by for a few tacos. Even popular photo-sharing site Flickr has gotten in on the trend, allowing you to view maps of destinations with popular photos pinpointed to where they were taken. Interestingly enough, there are now even cameras on the market that have built-in GPS capabiltiies.

GPS Just for Fun
In addition to GPS-equipped phones and cameras, there are also plenty of other ways you can use GPS devices just for goofing around. Sony’s popular PlayStation Portable offers a GPS add-on, allowing you to access location data for some of your favorite games like Metal Gear Solid to unlock special bonus characters. And you’ve probably heard by now about the artwork people have been creating using GPS software. Even though the recent DHL piece proved to be a hoax, other copycats have already followed suit. Of course, no article about GPS would be complete without a mention of everyone’s favorite GPS activity, geocaching. If you want to take it step further, you might even use GPS to create a life-size game of Pac-Man for yourself. The possibilities are pretty endless.

Not only do these new location-aware devices services provide us with useful information, they promise to change the way we travel. We are no longer tied to the recommendations of guidebooks. We can call upon user-created information about places to make informed decisions about what to see and where to go. We can take a look at a tiny street in a far-away land, without ever having to step foot there. Or we can use these new services for just plain fun. As location-based devices and services become cheaper and more widespread, they can only serve to help us make more informed travel decisions in the future.

Lonely Planet’s Passport To… On PSP

PSPThanks to my LP Comet email subscription I just found one more reason to invest in a Playstation Portable (PSP). Yes, the same device used for gamers can now be used by travelers ready to discover weekend getaways in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Prague and London. The fully interactive, portable and up-to-the-minute ‘Passport To’ city guides will feature details on 250 of the hottest bars, clubs, hotels, shops, services, and attractions. In addition to the same material you’d find in the old paper LP guidebooks interested takers will visually receive three off-the-beaten track audio tours and essential language phrases with audio. Sounds like a good investment so far. Not to mention the PSP unit is easy to carry and multi-functional. I’ve handled one here and there on various occasions and was quite impressed. This however, ices the cake. Check out the website dedicated to the ‘Passport To’ series and learn more about PSP.