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Airplane Mode, coming soon, joins Desert Bus on boring games’ cutting edge

Sit back, relax, and endure the flight

scene out the window of a passenger flight in AMC’s absurdist game Airplane Mode Bacronym/AMC
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Desert Bus for Hope, the original masochistic-gaming charity marathon, lurched out of its station in virtual Tucson on Friday, and with it came the announcement of a game styled similarly to Penn & Teller’s absurdist work from 25 years ago: Airplane Mode.

Published by AMC (the Walking Dead and Breaking Bad network), Airplane Mode takes the, er, player on a real-time long-haul flight across the Atlantic. Developed by Hosni Auji, the game/social commentary will launch sometime in 2020 but an alpha build will be shown Tuesday during the weeklong livestream of Desert Bus for Hope.

Features of Airplane Mode include:

  • Chance of inclement weather and turbulence and other delays
  • Possibility of bad/no WiFi access
  • Overhead reading light and complementary aircraft information card
  • “Fairly accurate satellite imagery of your flight path”
  • A carry-on bag stocked with a book, headphones and charging cable
  • “Authentic ambient noise” (specifically what is not said)
  • In-flight magazine filled with travel articles, crossword and sudoku.

Look, if the crossword and sudoko are not already filled out, then this is not really a sim experience. Just sayin’. Also, that magazine better have a full-page ad for a professional matchmaker who looks like someone on Knots Landing circa 1986.

“My interest in the game only grew when I learned it had been inspired by Desert Bus itself,” Andrew Ferguson one of the Desert Bus for Hope organizers, said in a statement. “Alt-games, experimental games, and ‘boring’ games push at the boundaries of what’s possible within the medium and it brings me genuine joy to be a small part of Airplane Mode’s launch.”

The news release announcing the, er, game said Airplane Mode would also have an in-flight safety video produced by IFC, the indie film network also owned by AMC. IFC is the home of Brockmire, and most of its original programming has been in the comedy or satire genre, so this should be rather witty.

AMC has partnered with other publishers to make video games before, mainly through The Walking Dead franchise. But this will be the first one the network takes on under a new label, AMC Games.

Desert Bus for Hope is chuggin’ along as we speak, approaching its 24th hour of driving with about $140,000 raised for the Child’s Play Charity.

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