03 March 2006

the video game equivalent of 'the office'

The goal of Desert Bus was to, quite simply, drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada; a very very boring drive, as those of us who have done it know. There were a couple catches, though: in the game, your bus could not go over 45 miles per hour. Also, it veered to the right, just ever so slightly, so you could not simply tape down the accelerator button on your Genesis pad and leave the game alone; you had to man the wheel at all times. Oh, and did we mention the trip takes eight hours, in real time?

"You saw nothing. It was just desert stuff going by," said Jillette. "And there was a little green tree hanging from the rear-view mirror, one of those things that makes your car smell better? And it would just kind of drift in slowly to one corner of the screen. And you couldn't take your hands off the controller, and if you did...it didn't have a spectacular crash, it just slowly went into the sand, and then overheated and stopped, and then the game was you being towed backwards all the way back to Tucson."

"And when you went from Tucson to Vegas and did the full 8 hours, you had bus stops, and the bus stops...you could stop and open the door, but no one got on. No one's ever waiting for you. And if you went by them you weren't punished at all, because nobody was there. It meant nothing. And a bug hit your windshield five times during the eight hours, and that was the only animation. It was just road after road after road. Eight hours of desert bus. And then when you got in - and I love this - when you got into Vegas and pulled in and stopped, the counter - which was five zeros - went to 1. You got 1 point for an eight hour shift, and then a guy came in and said, 'Do you want to pull a double shift, Mac?' And then you could drive back to Tucson for another eight hours for another point."


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