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How a Real-Life Submarine Disaster Boosted a Horror Game's Popularity

How a horror game called Iron Lung became popular after a real-life submarine disaster. Learn more about the game, the incident, and the future of submarine games.

The OceanGate Incident

On June 18th, 2023, a tourist submersible operated by OceanGate, a company that offers deep-sea exploration trips, went missing during a dive to the Titanic shipwreck. The sub, which was carrying five people, lost contact with the surface after descending to about 13,000 feet. 

A massive search operation was launched by the US Coast Guard and other agencies, but so far no trace of the sub or its occupants has been found. The only clue was some faint noises picked up by sonar, but their origin and meaning remain unclear.

The OceanGate incident has captured the attention of the public and the media, as it is one of the worst submarine disasters in history. Many people are following the news updates and hoping for a miracle. Some are also wondering what it would be like to be trapped in a dark and hostile environment, with no way out and no help coming.

The Iron Lung Game

One of the ways that some people have tried to satisfy their curiosity and cope with their fears is by playing a video game called Iron Lung. The game, which was released in May 2023 for the PC and Switch platforms, is a horror game that puts the player in the role of a survivor of a submarine accident. 

The player has to use a small submersible to explore an ocean of blood, where grotesque creatures and twisted secrets lurk. The game's graphics are intentionally low-resolution and pixelated, creating a sense of claustrophobia and uncertainty. The only way to see what's outside the sub is by taking pictures with a camera, which have a limited range and quality.

The game's developer, David Szymanski, said that he was inspired by his fascination with submarines and his love for horror games. He said that he wanted to create a game that would make the player feel isolated and vulnerable, while also offering some mystery and intrigue. He said that he did not expect his game to become so popular or relevant after the OceanGate incident.

The Sales Spike

According to Steam Charts, a website that tracks the number of players and sales of Steam games, Iron Lung saw a significant increase in its popularity after June 20th, just two days after the OceanGate incident. The game went from having an average of about 100 players per day to over 1,000 players per day. 

The game also climbed up the Steam bestseller list, reaching the top 10 in some regions. Szymanski said that he was surprised and grateful for the sudden surge in interest in his game. He also said that he hoped that his game would not be seen as insensitive or exploitative of the OceanGate tragedy.

"Iron Lung is not based on or related to the OceanGate incident in any way," he said. "It is a fictional horror game that I made as a personal project. I have nothing but respect and sympathy for the victims and their families, and I hope that they will be found safe and sound. I also hope that people who play my game will enjoy it as a form of entertainment and escapism, not as a simulation or mockery of a real-life situation."

Szymanski said that he plans to donate some of his profits from Iron Lung to a charity that supports ocean conservation and research.

The Future of Submarine Games

Iron Lung is not the only game that features submarines or underwater exploration. There are many other games that offer different perspectives and experiences of the deep sea, such as Subnautica, SOMA, Barotrauma, Diluvion, Abzu, and more. Some of these games are realistic and educational, while others are fantastical and imaginative. Some are peaceful and relaxing, while others are tense and terrifying.

The popularity of Iron Lung and other submarine games shows that there is a demand and an interest for this genre of games. As technology advances and VR becomes more accessible, submarine games could become even more immersive and realistic. However, they could also face ethical and moral challenges, as they could be seen as insensitive or disrespectful to real-life submarine disasters or environmental issues.

Submarine games are a unique way to explore and experience the wonders and horrors of the ocean. They can also be a way to cope with or express one's emotions and fears about the ocean. Whether they are inspired by or influence real-life events, submarine games will continue to attract and challenge players who are curious about what lies beneath the surface.


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