American entertainer Teller and his partner Penn Jillette came up with the idea for their video game Desert Bus as a satire against the anti-video game lobbying of the early 90s, Teller told The New Yorker in a recent interview.
Desert Bus was created in 1995 and never saw an official release. In the game, players complete a real-time eight hour journey between Las Vegas and Phoenix, Arizona. The on-screen bus gradually leans towards the right side of the road, so players must keep their hands on the controller, and swerving will make the bus engine stall — which results in players have to start the journey over. The game also can't be paused, and there is no traffic or NPC interaction. Each eight-hour trip between both cities rewards player with one point.
"The route between Las Vegas and Phoenix is long," Teller said. "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."
The game was part of a larger compilation for the Sega CD, Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, which was ultimately never released. The game resurfaced in 2005 when a former video game reviewer posted his review copy of Desert Bus to a number of internet forums. In November 2007 the game became part of the Desert Bus for Hope marathon, in which players participated in Desert Bus to raise money for the charity Child's Play.
"I have friends involved in worthwhile charities that struggle for every twenty-dollar donation," said sketch comedian and Desert Bus for Hope member Paul Saunders. "But Desert Bus for Hope seems to operate in this strange alternate universe where you can challenge strangers on the Internet to donate five thousand dollars in the next five minutes, and the money seems to just suddenly appear."
Check out the full story on Desert Bus here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated who founded and organized Desert Bus for Hope. The annual fundraiser was created by sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun. We have corrected the information and apologize for the error.