DESERT BUS LIVES ON!
Updated: Oct 26, 2018
This afternoon I was interviewed by Marcus Morey-Halldin, host of the storytelling podcast on gaming for Swedish National Radio (the NPR/BBC of Sweden), P3 Spel - https://sverigesradio.se/p3spel. The topic? DESERT BUS!!!
P3 Spel is featuring a story about Desert Bus, one of the six games from PENN & TELLERS SMOKE AND MIRRORS™ Sega-CD game that I produced in 1994. Even though SMOKE AND MIRRORS was never officially released to the public, DESERT BUS has enjoyed a life of its own as a game that is played for charity during the last decade as DESERT BUS FOR HOPE! https://desertbus.org/ hosted by Loading Ready Run https://loadingreadyrun.com/, a Canadian sketch comedy troupe and video production team, based in Victoria, British Columbia, founded by Graham Stark and Paul Saunders.
DESERT BUS is the world's longest running internet-based fundraiser and has raised more than $3.8 million for Child's Play over its ten-year history.
DESERT BUS challenges players to drive a listing, unreliable, virtual bus on an endless, eight-hour-long strip of highway between Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada, and is widely regarded to be the worst video game ever made. And once the player endures the eight-hour real-time commute? They are rewarded with 1 point and must return, in real-time, to Tucson, Arizona. No bathroom breaks, no pause feature, no putting down the controller or the bus shimmies off the road and the player must start - all, over, again. The only excitement they experience along the way, besides staring at the endless straight yellow dotted line that stretches for hours in front of them, is the 16-bit representation of an insect swished against the windshield at about 4.3 hours into the drive. That is DESERT BUS.
I had the pleasure to work with Penn & Teller and produce the project while at Absolute Entertainment. The overall game design was conceived by our dear friend Barry Marx who unfortunately passed away in the late 1990's.
DESERT BUS was the brainchild of Penn Jillette and was conceived to be the most "boring" video game ever designed. It was also a satirical response to the issue of violence in video games at the time. Little did we know then that the game, designed as a lark, has done so much for so many.