I was reading a blog post from the New Yorker calling Desert Bus the "Very Worst Video Game of All Time." Wow, that's some pretty harsh words, and really missing the point of what Penn Jillette was envisioning here as a protest statement against heavy handed government intervention in our basic civil rights to consume and view whatever material we choose as free Americans and members of a citizen democracy.
Well, I'll trump the New Yorker and call Desert Bus what is should be called, the greatest and most original video game ever created.
Desert Bus was created in 1995 by Penn Jillette and Teller to simulate the drive from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, which takes approximately eight hours when travelling in a vehicle at 45 mph.
There are no oncoming cars, no violence, no sex, nothing to distract you from the pure reality of driving a bus, one that constantly veers to the right. The scoring works by players earning a single point for each 8 hour trip completed between the two cities.
“Every few years, video games are blamed in the media for all of the ills in society,” said Teller. “In the early nineteen-nineties, I wrote an article for the New York Times citing all the studies that show video games have no effect on a child’s morals. But we wanted to create some entertainment that helped make the point. The route between Las Vegas and Phoenix is long, it’s a boring job that just goes on and on repetitiously, and your task is simply to remain conscious. That was one of the big keys—we would make no cheats about time, so people like the Attorney General could get a good idea of how valuable and worthwhile a game that just reflects reality would be."
Calling Desert Bus a horrible game sheds light on people's lack of understanding of what this game is and is supposed to say. Penn Jillette never ceases to amaze me for his original and uncompromising thought, and Desert Bus is the ultimate envisioning and pinnacle of reality video game entertainment for the most moral and upstanding of citizens.
Sit back, have a coffee or pop tart, and allow Desert Bus to take you away.