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FIRST came the heroics of landing a crippled passenger jet on the Hudson River in New York City. Now there are the video games. Hero on the Hudson challenges players to steady a plane nosediving toward the busy river. In Double Bird Strike, the goal is to evade flocks of birds – a suspected cause of the US Airways jet's near-disaster on January 15. Both are free online games created by units of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom. Free games, which make money by selling advertising, are seen as a promising segment of the $US22 billion ($34 billion) video game industry in the US.
Hero on the Hudson has been played more than 1.4 million times since it was launched on January 21, said Kate Connally, spokeswoman for AddictingGames. Average success takes three tries. "If you land it correctly like the pilot did, then the passengers come out and cheer on the wing," she said.
Double Bird Strike, which launched on January 18, may be trickier. Scott Roesch, general manager of creator atom.com, said it took him at least a dozen tries to succeed. "The decision to launch the project was made within 24 hours. It really is a story of heroism," Mr Roesch said.