Honestly, a Video Game That Strands You On a Boring Six-Hour Flight Is Just What I Need Right Now

Screenshot: Steam

Video games can be a fantastic escape from the stresses of every day life, but not when you’re chasing high scores, or screaming at the screen because you just got sniped. A new game called Airplane Mode might provide the most relaxed gaming experience imaginable, as players are only tasked with enjoying the ride as a passenger on a six hour trans-Atlantic flight that plays out in real time.

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It’s the first title published by AMC Games (from the TV network that brought us Breaking Bad) and it provides a similar experience to what might be the ultimate test of a gamer’s patience and perseverance: Desert Bus. Originally designed by magicians Penn and Teller to be part of a collection of mini PC games that was never released, Desert Bus simply requires players to drive a bus on a deserted stretch of desert highway for eight hours straight without crashing—which sounds a lot easier than it is.


Airplane Mode takes a similar approach, but players aren’t tasked with flying a plane across the Atlantic. Instead, they simply have to remain in their seat, which is thankfully right next to a window showing real satellite imagery of the terrain beneath your flight path, for six straight hours while all the usual things that happen on a flight play out around them. Players experience take off and landing, snacks, meals, passengers and flight crew moving about, crying babies, unreliable wifi, turbulence, and changing weather, and even delays, which are all random so every flight feels like a different grueling experience.

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Aside from the scenery out the window and the ability to look around, the only distractions players have at their disposal are magazines (complete with crossword and sudoku puzzles), airplane information cards, a single book, a smartphone, and an in-flight entertainment system featuring a flight tracker and a selection of royalty-free movies from the 1930s. At least Desert Bus distracts players with the responsibility of steering.

In recent years, Desert Bus has become the focus of an annual charity fundraiser where gamers raise money for important causes by testing their endurance at the wheel of that virtual bus. Desert Bus For Hope 2019 gets underway on November 8 this year, but on November 12 gamers will get their first chance to see Airplane Mode in action—if you can call it that—as it will be played as part of the fundraiser. Everyone else will have to wait until 2020 to download Airplane Mode from Steam, with pricing details not revealed just yet.


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