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Surgeon Simulator 2013: Josh’s Medschool Exam

By Shamus
on Thursday May 2, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

One interesting controversy about this game was that apparently some people were upset over the name. They saw “Surgeon Simulator 2013″ and expected it to be, you know, a simulation. It’s like calling the 80’s classic Rampage, “Sim City”. The game began as a goof – a flash based web game where the name of the game was part of the joke. But when you’re looking at a game in the context of a store, your assumptions change and a lot of people don’t expect the titale of a game to be ironic, hyperbolic, or absurdist.

It wasn’t a big controversy or anything. It was more like a few unhappy comments. But I thought the confusion as a result of a change in context was interesting.

Back in the very early 90’s I did play a real surgeon simulation. I don’t remember the name, but I do remember it was HARD. Your first surgery is an appendectomy, and the game expected you to be able to locate and extract the appendix without carving up the patient like a Christmas ham. I failed on my first three tries because I was just a few inches off, and after cutting and fiddling around for a long time I’d finally get in there and find out I didn’t have the right angle to extract the appendix. (Cutting a second incision would immediately end the operation with a message that another doctor was taking over.)

So now we have two games that feature point-and-click surgery. That makes it a genre!

Comments (130)

  1. Eric Rossing says:

    The game you’re thinking of is “Life and Death”. The very farthest I ever got was being ready to cut out the appendix, which I promptly flubbed….

    • Hal says:

      Wow, I didn’t expect that to be answered already.

      Yeah, we had that game, too. I was in grade school, though, so I really didn’t get it. Like, at all. The few times I did fire it up, I could never make the incisions big enough to have room to remove anything by the time I’d cut through all the various tissue layers. So mostly I’d just start writing my name in the patient’s skin with the scalpel . . . without anesthetizing them first.

      I’m really not surprised I never went to med school. I am, however, surprised my parents didn’t make me see a counselor.

    • Ithilanor says:

      It has a sequel, even, where you’re a neurosurgeon. You have to do diagnostics involving poking people with a pin to see their response, so you can imagine the hilarity even before you start cutting someone’s brain open…

      • One of the threads that went around on Reddit recently was what the worst thing you’ve ever done in a game is. My pick for myself was Life & Death 2. Why? I learned how to fix a subdural hematoma, a brain injury… by trial and error.

        This is not the American Medical Association-approved technique for learning brain surgery.

        • MrGuy says:

          You know what they always say. When all you have are brains, every problem looks like a subdural hematoma.

        • Factoid says:

          Dear lord….the cancer removal surgery still gives me shudders. I was literally suctioning out peoples’ brains just kinda hoping I was taking the right part.

          Although honestly I think it was less forgivable how I would write my name in peoples’ abdomens with a scalpel in L&D1. With no anaesthetic. They didn’t scream and end the surgery until after you let go of the mouse button

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          There’s a slight irony that brain surgery (trepanation, at least) is the oldest known surgery (skulls from almost 10,000 years show it), people got pretty good at it (the skulls show healing from it, sometimes years and years of healing), and there sure wasn’t any AMA around to approve anything other than experimentation.

    • Factoid says:

      I loved that game so much. The trick to removing the Appendix is that you have to hit a spot with your clamp that is literally about 2×2 pixels. And then you can make a nick it with a scalpel, continuing with scissors.

      After that it’s pretty easy.

      The second surgery in the game is to do an aortic aneurism repair. It’s much easier.

      • Steve C says:

        I remember that game! I didn’t like it much but had fun with it. It became my goal to do as much damage as possible before my patient died. Like making a huge circular incision the size of the torso then removing the skin. It was surprisingly hard to keep a patient alive along enough to do something criminally negligent to him.

      • Keeshhound says:

        “The second surgery in the game is to do an aortic aneurism repair. It's much easier.

        Things that I never thought I’d read, part thirty-two.

    • Neko says:

      Me and my sister had fun times playing that game. We had absolutely no idea how to play it or what all the different tools did. I can recall that patient’s scream effect even now.

    • J Gostick says:

      Always named myself “Dr. Mindflayer” and promptly failed out of every single examination…

  2. TraderRager says:

    Well, I’ll be damned. Josh is a bonafide surgeon now.

  3. Greg says:

    This is just the soul-crushingly horrific dose of hilarity I needed to get me through my finals study.

  4. Cybron says:

    This hurts to watch.

  5. guy says:

    I’m just imagining this guy getting transferred to one of the Trauma Center hospitals.

    “Removing a man’s right lung and ribcage during a heart transplant is not the path of honor!”

  6. IFS says:

    Somehow the guys over at Roosterteeth (Ragequit specifically) managed to get through a lot of these operations, with the unique added challenge of having two people playing one controlling the arm and one controlling the hand. Link below if anyone wants to take a look.


  7. Graham says:

    Three, actually. There’s also the Trauma Center series for the DS and Wii.


    Those are much more forgiving. And fun.

    • False Prophet says:

      My friend and I had a good laugh playing Trauma Centre: Second Opinion on the Wii. I was playing the stage where you extract glass shards from the heart of a car crash victim. Just when you clear out most of them, the nurse yells a warning and a giant shard suddenly erupts from the heart. My friend said, “it’s the Boss Shard!” and I rolled over laughing.

    • Chuk says:

      My kids and I had quite a bit of fun with the Trauma Center games.

  8. Blake says:

    I enjoyed this immensely.
    Well done Josh, I think you’re ready to put it into practice!

  9. Gruhunchously says:

    And thus, through a freak accident, Josh created the first Time Lord…

  10. Jamas Enright says:

    There are also the flash game series Dark Cut about medieval surgery, although it’s more ‘can you drag the mouse along this line?’ more than actual surgery.

    • Jeysie says:

      I was going to mention this myself, but you beat me to it. I’ll add that the later two games involve more battlefield surgery, in the Civil War and in more modern times.

      And that it’s basically a Darker and Edgier and Gorier version of Trauma Center, yeah. The second and third games especially are creepy. (The first one is too cartoony for what it was going for, IMHO.)

  11. newdarkcloud says:

    In the middle of this episode, I got hungry and snacked on Peanut Butter Oreos.

    This was after I was 20 minutes in and laughing at the absurdity of it all.

  12. Phantos says:

    I’m calling it:

    This is the best Spoiler Warning episode I’ve seen. Even better than Miranda dying in ME 2. Even better than Trains. This is it. This is the top of the mountain.

  13. AbruptDemise says:

    The ending is really what makes this great.

    Though Josh picking up an injector by the needle was amazing, too.

    • Trix2000 says:

      I don’t think the episode could have gone any better short of accidentally dumping all the tools into the chest cavity, and then succeeding anyways.

      …Then again, he almost did that as it was.

  14. Spammy says:

    So… the surgeon’s first impulse on his first surgery is to pump himself full of morphine.

    I guess Reginald Cuftbert is arguably a kind of surgeon…

  15. Furlong says:

    For what its worth, we wish you a speedy recovery Josh.

  16. Some_Jackass says:

    I find it fitting that Josh kept up the proud SW tradition of getting his character drugged up.

  17. Humanoid says:

    MY BRAAAAIN HURTS! I’m already wincing and I haven’t even watched the video. I imagine by the time I’m done, my face will be permanently contorted. (I have a pretty weak stomach for this kind of thing, though not literally)

    I’m now imagining Reginald Cuftbert-Gumby, famous brain surgeon, handkerchief on head, announcing that he’s about to operate.


  18. Thomas says:

    I can’t believe you did it! I’ve seen people try for longer at the non-stomach version and never succeed. Josh is truly a genius amongst surgeons

  19. MrGuy says:

    Chris: “It would help if we weren’t stoned out of our mind.”

    No, Chris. No, it really wouldn’t.

    • This is also the only time I’ve ever heard anyone tell someone doing amateur surgery, “I’ve found the answer: You can’t do this.”

      I’d pay a ton of money if that line ever appeared in a movie or TV show. It’d be a refreshing change of pace.

      • Hitchmeister says:

        Need the full sequence. They decide amateur surgery is the only option. Choose who’s going to do it. Somehow knock the patient out and cut them open. Then one of the other starts searching Wikipedia for instructions. Then while the patient is bleeding to death, “This looks really complicated. I don’t think we can do it.”

  20. Chris says:

    Now all that is left is to dispose of the evidence by cannibalism or get another surgeon to close for you.

  21. Astor says:

    Oh my Josh! I couldn’t stop laughing! And the ending… just that ending… Sublime, bravissimo!

  22. burningdragoon says:

    Wow, not sure it’s possible to have better end to an episode than this one.

  23. Jexter says:

    You can cut out the esophagus by using a scalpel on two points, one near the stomach, and the other at the top. Then you can pull out both the esophagus and the stomach. Makes things a little easier. ;)

    The achievements for the game are pretty hilarious. There’s one for making a Time Lord by giving the patient two hearts (Doctor Who reference), which Josh happened to get in the video by accident. There’s also one for doing an entire surgery while drugged, and another for doing an entire surgery while electrocuted (stick a scalpel in an electrical outlet, and enjoy reversed controls.)

    And there’s even an achievement for doing an entire surgery while electrocuted and drugged, at the same time. That’s a fun one.

  24. I didn’t want to play doctor with Josh before. Now I want to even less.

  25. anaphysik says:

    “a lot of people don't expect the titale of a game to be ironic”

    Ah yes, the veritable tit-ale.
    (In unrelated news, I’ve never been able to read “Titleist” (title-ist) correctly on the first viewing. It always looks like “tit leist” to me :/)

  26. rayen says:

    If you want to see more levels and the insanity that is ambulance surgery check this.

  27. Someone says:

    There should be a DLC for this that allows you to grab a spatula from the cafeteria.

  28. Duhad says:

    OK that ending was AMAZING! I was on the edge of my seat for it!

  29. Brandon says:

    Did anyone happen to mention that this doctor is not wearing gloves? If anyone mentioned that, I missed it.

    It seems relevant to me somehow, like… maybe you should be wearing gloves if you are going to root around in someone’s chest.

  30. lostclause says:

    Dr Cuthbert I presume…

  31. BeamSplashX says:

    Unlike Macho Man Randy Savage, this bonesaw is not ready.

  32. Primogenitor says:

    “don't expect the titale” <– typo

  33. rrgg says:

    I think you can remove the esophagus by cutting near the top and bottom with a scalpel.

    One thing that’s interesting about this game is that each time you complete a level you will be rewarded with additional instruction floppies you can put in the computer on the menu screen.

  34. RTBones says:

    I feel like I should comment after watching that, yet am unsure of what would be appropriate to say – given that I expected the video to end in spectacular failure and the opposite happened, causing me to nearly cover my monitor in an enormous coffee spit-take because I was laughing so hard. This was surprising as I watched nearly the entire video going, “Whaaa…? People paid money for this?” and scratching my head. Then the end happened.

    I suppose it might have been better if Josh had had a Pip Boy to consult for surgical instructions one handed from time to time. Even better if there were somehow a drinking game tied to how accidentally well Josh’s simulated surgeries went. Perhaps a beer holder attached to his surgical cap.

  35. Grudgeal says:

    The opening makes it look like Josh is listening to that Fatboy Slim song with the music video where everyone who hears the song starts has constant muscle spasms. Just at half speed.

  36. Keymer says:

    This really helped. I had to have surgery in February, and the problem is coming back. Laughing really is awesome.

    I’d really like a series of this

  37. supflidowg says:

    I just picture after the surgery the guy waking up and having one-armed Dr. Curtbert walking in…
    Dr. Curtbert:”Ok I have good news and bad news.” Paitent:” Whats the bad news first.” Dr. Curtbert:” Well your lungs and 93% of your breastbone were removed but, you now have two hearts, a slightly used watch, and some glass shards and/or a scalpel plus, your insurance dropped you.” Paitent:”WHAT!” Dr. Curtbert:”Don’t worry the price I got from selling your lungs was enough to cover the surgery.” Paitent:”…” Dr. Curtbert then walks over to the patient, takes out his morphine drip and chugs the entire bag before bunny hopping out the door with his doctor’s jacket pockets bulging full of everything not nailed down in the room.

  38. broken says:

    This might as well have been called “things you don’t want to hear in the surgery theatre”.

    Jesus there is blood flying everywhere
    Can’t you reach in there and grab the hart?
    Can’t you just rip it out
    there is no guide on gamefaqs yet
    you need to take out the lungs first
    you have a powerdrill for that
    there we go, it’s stuck again
    are there still veins
    you get that shard of broken glass you can use
    Oh, we still have the circular saw

    and so on and so on.

  39. Tse says:

    I just did the three operations. Turns out the second is on par with the first and the third is a cakewalk. Turns out brain surgery is not all it’s cracked up to be.

  40. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well Josh,if you wake up with a third kidney sloshing around in your stomach,now you will at least know why.Get well soon.

  41. Jeysie says:

    Finally got a chance to watch the vid.

    1. That is one of the most disturbingly hilarious things I’ve seen in quite some time.
    2. The ending. I laughed for a good minute straight and was like, “Oh my god what”.

    • Andrew_C says:

      That is soo true! They just need a chainsaw lying about that you can’t use because you only have one hand.

      Also, you, Shamus and Josh and Co. are the reason why I was up until 2 last night playing Theme Hospital. I hope you are all happy with yourselves. That game is seriously addictive.

      If you don’t have it yey, it’s on sale over at GoG, so you don’t have to give too much money to EA for Bullfrog’s hard work.

  42. Weimer says:

    It would be cool if when you took the drugs, you would have mirages and shit.

    Imagine opening a guy and finding a snake who attacked you in there.

  43. GragSmash says:

    So he drops the heart in at the end, and that works? Who knew bodily organs functioned like USB?

  44. Bropocalypse says:

    This and Part 2 of Roosterteeth’s Ragequit video on the hidden levels came out at roughly the same time. Fun times.

    They managed to do it with Gavin working the mouse and Michael on the keyboard. Somehow.

  45. Studoku says:

    Don’t be such a baby. Ribs grow back.

  46. Daemian Lucifer says:

    After seeing this…interesting display,I finally decided to get the game.Usual hilarity aside,I laughed out loud once Ive reached brain transplant,and killed the guy in under 30 seconds by jabbing a drill in his eye.

    Then I finished that one by putting the brain in backwards.Good times.

  47. Jeff says:

    Speaking of games, have you taken a look at Neverwinter Online, Shamus? I’m curious as to your take on it, in light of your previous writings starring Star On Chest.

  48. Baltar says:

    Who needs Malpractice Insurance. Here at Josh Surgeons, we offer Malpractice ASSURANCE!

  49. Vagrant says:

    can this just be next seasons spoiler warning?
    you can finale on the zero g level
    itll be sweet

  50. Cuthalion says:

    I have that watch. O_O

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