Back in the day, I played a game called Life and Death. It was, without a doubt, one of the hardest games ever made. I had a friend who was an actual surgeon, and he said real surgery is easier than this game. If people in the real world died with the frequency with which patients die in Life and Death, the population would be cut in half. In this game, patients can die just from the initial incision, not to mention during the actual operation.
The game is now available for free online as abandonware. Amazingly, I still got it to run with no problems. When someone can explain why a twenty-year old DOS-based game works fine while my ten-year old Windows-based Command and Conquer game from 1995 wouldn't run without patches, I'll understand computers.
* Life and Death was released in 1988 by The Software Toolworks.
* The game apparently had a cult following among medical students.
* The original game came with a surgical mask and latex gloves. I don't remember getting those.
* There haven't been many other surgical simulations since L&D's release. One exception is Trauma Center: Under the Knife (Cadeuceus in the original Japanese version) for the Nintendo DS. Also Adult Swim has a parody game called Amateur Surgeon.
* Though the game claims to be based on actual surgical techniques, it included a warning that it was not a substitute for medical care and should not be used for medical advice. I can just imagine what brought that on - "Honey, my belly hurts. Boot up that 'Life and Death,' see what it says." "Well, according to the game, you got appendicitis. Lie down, I've done this surgery a thousand times in the game. Can't be that hard in real life."
* There was a sequel called Life & Death: The Brain. If abdominal surgery is this hard, I can only imagine what a nightmare brain surgery is like.
* Of course, the go-to on the game is Wikipedia. You can download the game for free at Thehouseofgames.net. Free-game-downloads has the game and a manual, but you have to pay for them. The walkthrough at GameFAQs is a must-have. Reading what steps are required to pull off a successful operation explains why my patients never lasted long.