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November 06, 2009

Fun and Swine Flu in the Same Sentence? Check out "Beat the Swine '09"

978780_20091104_790screen002 Want to feel like superwoman, or a Good Samaritan, or a science geek, or all three at once?

Download the new “Beat the Swine ’09” iPhone application, which allows you to ‘swine-bust’ all kinds of viral invaders. I’ve been playing this game since Tuesday and I’m totally hooked. 

“Beat the Swine ‘09” is addictive, cheap and educational — and it’s among the first Apple apps to donate a percentage of its profits to a cause. Along with his two best friends from pre-school, UVM art major Alex Connelly did the illustrations and design of the ninety-nine cent app, that launched November 2. 

Here's how it works: You are a blood cell on a mission to rid your body of the swine flu virus. Fifteen of your anatomical body parts are infected, and unless you want to yield to the nasty, you’ve got to fight the rapacious strands of H1N1. The first levels concentrate on your hands, nasal cavities and the initial depots of viral ingestion. Next, the digestive system becomes infected. The lungs are the last battleground and the most vital to win. 

As you progress throughout your own infected body – how quickly you forget this is just a game and not all-out warfare – you will pick up ‘power-ups,’ such as five-second immunities, vaccinations, and an antibody potion that transforms you into a merciless, superhero antibody. It gets pretty graphic. 

Warning: you will find yourself a little bloodthirsty; the last I experienced this kind of vengeful pleasure was while watching Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards

978780_20091104_790screen003 "We thought, why not create a game that actually had a purpose,” said Connelly, UVM ’09. “And the pandemic we’re facing now is the swine flu. It seemed like the right fit.” Connelly’s newly-founded software company, VFSoftware LLC, donates a percentage of its profits to the CDC’s swine flu relief fund: “As a player’s reported score goes up, so does his/her contribution, starting at 10¢ and ranging to 100% of VFSoftware’s revenue from our $0.99 sale.” 

"We also wanted our game to last longer than 15 minutes – so you’ll not only want to return to it, but [you’ll also] feel like an active team player in the fight against the swine flu,” said Connelly.

Maybe that’s why I’m still on level four... it’s really hard, ok?

With a killer techno-loungey soundtrack, quick medical facts, and a colorful layout of the human body, “Beat the Swine ‘09” is definitely worth the $0.99. I’m not yet sure what Connelly will be worth. 

The art major/game designer believes Apple should start a “Cause Apps” category. Before the end of ’09, I bet I’ll be Beating Breast Cancer or Diminishing Environmental Pollution, all from the couch. 

For more information, go to

[Ed. Note: Welcome to Ryan Winnick, our new Seven Days intern!]

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