Saturday, February 26, 2011

Desert Bus

So I'm performing March 2nd at The Encyclopedia Show here in Chicago (The Vittum Theater at 1012 N Noble Street, 7:30pm $8 and $5 for students). Given that the theme of this month's show is Video Games, the topic I was given was Desert Bus. It's a lo-fi video game for Sega that Penn and Teller made, but it was never actually released. It did get leaked out on the web, so lots of game nerds know about it. It was supposed to be a mini-game that was part of a bigger collection called Smoke and Mirrors. In the 90's, Janet Reno was really against violent video games. So Penn and Teller made this video game and dedicated it to her. Penn said that he thought it was probably the only politically correct video game. Penn explained in a podcast that the idea of the game is that it "would appeal to people who didn't like unrealistic games or violence in their games, that it was just like real loving life."

So in the game of Desert Bus you drive a bus across the straight Nevada desert for eight hours in real-time. Then you drive it home. The bus slightly veers to the right, so you can't just leave leave something propped on the controller. You actually have to be steering it the whole time. So you drive a bus from Tucson to Vegas, and you can't go over 45 mph and the trip takes 8 full hours. Occasionally the air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror flaps a little. In the 8 hours there's really just desert going by. Maybe there's a bug splat on the window periodically. You could stop the bus and open the door but nobody gets on. When you get to Vegas, the game score counter of five zeroes goes to 1. You get 1 point for 8 hours of driving. Then a voice asks you if you want to pull a double shift and if so, you can drive back to Tucson for another point that you get when you arrive.

They even did a demo of it with some guy just sitting in a booth driving a bus, playing the video game. Also, P and T were going to have a contest for whoever could get the highest score (you can just keep doing the eight hour drive, back and forth), and the idea was that the winner gest a lavish prize of a ride on a fancy real bus to Vegas and they're treated to shows, money and Vegasness. But then the company that made the game went out of business and so the game never really got officially released. But people have made mockups of it on the internet and there's even a Desert Bus marathon that raises money for charity.

So snarky sarcastic comments I've been mulling over about this topic:

"It's about time someone made a video game that reflects the drama and violence of real life."

"It's about time someone made a video game that reflects a wholesome incentive for our youth instead of teaching them how to be desensitized to violence."

And finally, I don't want to give away too much about my performance inspired by Desert Bus, but perhaps I might entice you to come by telling you that my piece involves music. Also, you may want to come after you read what I have pasted in below, which is part of an e-mail regrading my tech and prop needs for the show with the show producers:

...During the instrumental I'll be eating junk food. Might I request a table and chair? And you supply the junk food. Just kidding. I will supply the junk food. I will allow you to have one (1) potato chip. Also, can I crash on your couch? Will that be cool? OK, thx bye! No, just kidding. I don't need to crash on your couch. But you can crash on mine if you need to.

Chairs (I request one),

Liz 666 Mason

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