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Balloon Boy games soar, exposing a subtle industry shift

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BalloonBoyGame.com screenshot

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Over the past couple days, developers have rolled out two video games based on the Balloon Boy debacle. The first, and most popular, is called the Balloon Boy Game, and it is distributed by the web start-up Heyzap. The second is Balloon Boy Adventure, and it's hosted on Newgrounds.com.

Both games are pretty straightforward. In the Balloon Boy Game, seen in the image at right, the user pilots young Falcon Heene across an urban cityscape. Falcon hangs haplessly onto the balloon; there is an option to shoot at seagulls, or grab free power-ups. In Balloon Boy Adventure, neither Falcon nor his father, Richard Heene are present – there's only that big tinfoil muffin of a balloon.

Anecdotally, the games are enjoying a good deal of success. Buzz is certainly high – the Balloon Boy game has received much blog coverage and the attention of a smattering of newspapers. But for tech junkies, the most interesting part about the Balloon Boy games is that they exist at all.

A decade ago, game creation was an exacting process. It took months, and huge teams of designers, to build any sort of game. These days, it takes half a day, a workable idea, and a basic grasp of computer science to build your own desktop side-scroller. "We saw the incident happening on TV last week and decided to make a game," Jude Gomila, who helped create the game, told UPI. "It took us about six hours and we launched it out to our friends on Twitter."

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