Florida Keys News
Monday, May 12, 2014
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Spearfishing in the Florida Keys: There's an app for that

A Key Colony Beach resident made a splash recently by developing the first freediving fishing "app" for Apple's iOS devices.

Carlos Ariel Suarez, a Cuban native, artist, graphic designer, computer programmer and former commercial spearfisherman, created Freediving Hunter, a free-diving spearfishing game for mobile devices now available for download in the Apple Store for $1.99.

"I used to spearfish professionally in Cuba and made my money doing that for many years," said Suarez, 43. "I used to dive to 120 feet, but I'm not really that fit anymore. All the work on the computer has put a few pounds on me."

Suarez formerly lived in the northern coastal town of Cojimar, east of Havana, but came to America in 2001 after his political art drew the ire of the Castro regime. Now a U.S. citizen, Suarez taught himself computer graphic design and game development after he saw his first Sony Playstation video game.

Suarez wanted the game to be as realistic as possible as the players have to watch their available virtual "lung capacity," while they fight to bring in the fish they spear while being mindful of sharks trying to steal their catch. If a player uses all his air, the avatar suffers a deadly blackout that shuts down the game for three minutes.

"I wanted to keep it as close to the real experience as I could," he said.

The game has been more than six years in the making as Suarez also taught himself the Apple iOS programming platform.

"The biggest challenge is getting the game out there so people can see it," he said. "I'm just doing this myself and it is pretty difficult. I want to show it to as many people as I can, so it can possibly become very big."

Suarez modeled the diver in his game after his 18-year-old stepson, Dominic Cavitt, a senior at Marathon High School, who has emulated Suarez's passion for freediving.

He's currently in the process of updating the game, improving game controls and making the colors more vibrant in addition to other tweaks.

"I really love creating games and I'm still getting feedback from players," Suarez said. "I love working on the computer, but I also miss working underwater. It's a beautiful world. That's what I hope to share."

For information about the game, visit freedivinghunter.com or download the game to your iOS device via the Apple App Store.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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