By pap 4 Comments
As kids, we'd chew the fat with suggestions for the world's most boring videogames. Having experienced enough of life to know what boring meant, we dreamt up concepts to drive men to tears. Text-based adventures without exits, where the parser treated every combination of verb and noun as the consequence of a squirrel clambering over a keyboard. One waterbound suggestion that always floated to the top was fishing. How could that ever be fun in a videogame?
I know that fishing can be fun. We've all seen affluent anglers reeling marlin onto million dollar boats. We're not talkiing about that sort of fishing. We're talking about sitting alongside a dismal body of water where nothing happens for eight hours climaxing with a going home empty credit sequence. Eight hours your life that were totally pointless and you'd never get back.
Last night, I spent an hour fishing for Glacial Salmon in the Grizzly Hills of Northrend. How times have changed.
To be fair, games based on mundane activities are not new - but they normally add something fantastic to the mix to spice things up. The aim of BurgerTime is to make burgers, but each sandwich is six feet in diameter and the staff get harrassed by six-foot hot dogs. Likewise, Jet Set Willy was nominally about clearing your house of detritus after a party - but the house was replete with rotating razor-blades of death, vicious vicars and trident-wielding demons. In the first five screens. Must have been quite the party.
Perhaps the first attempt to make a truly boring game was Advanced Lawnmower Simulator, for the Sinclair Spectrum. This game's obstacles were rocks, coat-hangers and duck ponds. Despite the intentional mundanity, the game gave some reward to the gamer. Equipment upgrades available to skilled mowers, providing some sense of progression for lawnmower enthusiasts everywhere.
Desert Bus is a mini-game featured in Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors. The player has to drive a bus from Tucson to Las Vegas in real time. It's a 360 mile run which can be driven at a maximum speed of 45mph. The road is perfectly straight, but the bus pulls to the right, meaning a player has to yank the controls left every couple of seconds to keep the bus on the road. The game cannot be paused, so players must spend eight continuous hours to drive the complete length of the trip. If you do veer off the road, the bus is towed back to Tucson, also in real time. A video of the gameplay is here. Desert Bus for Hope are a group of well-meaning maniacs who do Desert Bus endurance runs for the Child's Play charity. Compared to what they go through, fishing in WoW doesn't seem so bad.
Desert Bus is undoubtedly the king of mind-numbingly tedious video-games. It is intentionally and deliberately humdrum, purpose built to bore the living shit out of you. Those little tykes that dreamt of boredom would be proud.