Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Desert Bus - Penn & Teller, Video Games, and Charity

Here is a story that begins in the mid 90's.  Clinton was president, the world was at peace, and Jay Leno would nurse you into a slumber every weeknight. (no longer nostalgic)

Janet Reno teamed up with Hillary Clinton to get all into a moral panic about violent video games.  She actually wanted educational videogames or something.  Penn & Teller got word of this, as they were designing a game for Sega Genesis.  So they had the idea to include a mini-game that very realistic and even educational.  It taught you to be a bus driver!

Specifically, Desert Bus would consist of driving a bus from Tuscon to Las Vegas -in real time.  8 hours, through the desert, on a straight road.  With no other cars and a top speed of 45mph.  You could imagine just taping down the accelerator button, BUT they made the bus pull to the right so you constantly have to be correcting it.  And if you mess up and go off the road, they tow you back to Tuscon -also in real time.  What happens if someone had the determination to make it all the way to Las Vegas?  Well, for your excruciating work you get, wait for it.. 1 point.  And then you drive back to Tuscon.

Yes, I know what you're thinking: GENIUS.  Here's some gameplay:

Tragically, this game never made it to stores (surprising, I know).  But bootlegs made it to the internet, so the studious among us can now find and play it.

Which brings me to a recent development, which is an online comedy group who is doing a Desert Bus driving marathon for charity.  Calling it Desert Bus for Hope, they are driving back and forth between Tuscon and Las Vegas as long as donations come in.  Penn Jillette himself has taken note, and the local news reported on this particular kind of torture-for-charity.  People have flooded their site with bus- and desert-inspired images and art, almost constituting a mini-meme.  It's been like 4 days straight now and they've actually raised $83,000 so far.

And they've made an all-time high-score of 13 points!


  1. I loved this one. It has given me courage to try scarier things. I tend to steer clear of them but not anymore.
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