That’s Your Videogame: Desert Bus

The New Yorker has a very funny piece today on a real life half-existent videogame from the late 90s designed by Penn and Teller that sounds an awful lot like your videogame:

The drive from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, takes approximately eight hours when travelling in a vehicle whose top speed is forty-five miles per hour. In Desert Bus, an unreleased video game from 1995 conceived by the American illusionists and entertainers Penn Jillette and Teller, players must complete that journey in real time. Finishing a single leg of the trip requires considerable stamina and concentration in the face of arch boredom: the vehicle constantly lists to the right, so players cannot take their hands off the virtual wheel; swerving from the road will cause the bus’s engine to stall, forcing the player to be towed back to the beginning. The game cannot be paused. The bus carries no virtual passengers to add human interest, and there is no traffic to negotiate. The only scenery is the odd sand-pocked rock or road sign. Players earn a single point for each eight-hour trip completed between the two cities, making a Desert Bus high score perhaps the most costly in gaming.

I had a friend who played a lot of on-line multi-player games before they were as popular as they are now, like, Gnome Quest, or whatever, King’s Ransom? I don’t know what they were called, but I used to love to make him tell me about his gaming because his stories were always so funny. One time he wanted to go to this island in the game, but there was a boat that took you there and it only came at certain times of day and he had missed the boat, but he wanted to go to the island so he “jumped” into the “water” and he “swam” to the island, which required just hitting the R button on his keyboard for four hours. I guess I liked his stories so much because they reminded me of you and how you are always playing Desert Bus.