BANKTHINK

Want to kill some bankers? There's an app for that

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Who knew that killing bankers could be so hard on the hands?

Between throwing them into the air, blowing them up, shooting them down and shaking them so hard their clothes fall off, it’s easy for your fingers to get a little cramped now and again. Especially when you kill so many.

To date this morning, I’ve killed 424 day traders, 185 stock brokers, 79 vice presidents of acquisitions, 78 high risk investors, and 29 chief executive officers. Not bad for about ten minutes of work.

No, I haven’t gone crazy. Instead, I’ve been playing “Bailout Wars,” a new iPhone game from French publisher Gameloft that is themed around the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The game features cash-hungry bankers attempting to raid the White House for bailout cash and it’s up to the player to stop them.

That involves tapping the bankers, allowing you to fling them around, hold them and shake them, and even double tapping to blow them up. Given the pace of the onslaught, however, that is not enough. Players earn gold for each banker they successfully kill, which eventually can be used to purchase and upgrade a sniper, tank, and a satellite laser-wielding Uncle Sam that help fend off the horde of bankers. 

Each banker, too, has its own particular weakness. While the basic banker can be killed in several ways, stock brokers are resistant to being flung to their deaths (they use their briefcase as a parachute) and must be slammed violently to the ground. High risk investors descend on you from helicopters and must be forcibly crashed while CEOs can only be hurt by the tank, laser beam, or throwing little bankers into them. The game ends when all the bailout cash is stolen.

Aside from the dubious morality of featuring a game that involves a wholesale slaughter of the industry I cover, the game is addictively fun. As you progress levels, the bankers get faster and more plentiful, and your upgrades grow ever more impressive. Throwing a tank shell onto a field full of bankers is sick fun.

Clearly I’m not the only one having a good time. The game has earned 95 reviews since its release on iTunes last month – the vast majority of which were positive – and was a featured selection from Apple last week.

“I won’t see my banker the same way now,” wrote shizuka123 at the iTunes Web site.

The only criticism was that many players wanted to take the fight to bankers directly.

“We should be able to attack the banks bank and confiscate CEO’s private jets to recoup money!” wrote Game Reviewer. Com

Some just wanted a little bit more blood.

“You should make CEOs easier to kill,” wrote roachkotchou.

“Bailout Wars” is not the only iPhone app to play off of Tarp. “Bailout Ben,” released in May, involves helping Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke to lower cash to failing companies. “Bailout America,” released in February, involves moving obstacles out of the way to help Uncle Sam funnel more money to greedy bankers. “Bag the Bankers,” meanwhile, also released last month, involves dragging bankers into, wait for it, a bag, and retaking some of their cash.

All in all, it’s clear that the public’s hatred of the banking industry – far from easing – may just be winding up. And next time a bank CEO heads for the White House, I’d steer clear of the snipers.

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