Desert Bus for Hope

By Hans Wuerflein

As we speak (well, type/read, whatever) four poor, tortured souls are taking part in one of the most arduous tasks in gaming, a multi-day Desert Bus marathon, with no breaks, little sleep (in shifts), and no end in sight.

And it’s all in the name of charity.

Desert Bus for Hope, now in its third annual installment, is a charity drive for Child’s Play, a charity founded by the guys at Penny Arcade that gives video games, toys and money to children’s hospitals around the world.

For those unfamiliar with Desert Bus, a little back story is in order.

Desert Bus is part of the unreleased (but finished) game Penn and Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors for the Sega CD.  The game was a victim of the demise of the failed add-on for the Genesis, and other than a few ads and an early review in a magazine, the world at large didn’t know much about it until just a few years ago.

One of those early review copies found its way to the internet, and by there not really being much of a point in filing copyright claims against distributing a decade old cancelled game for a dead console produced by a now defunct company, it made the usual rounds.

Most of the mini games that make up the two disc set are tricks to play on your friends, but one, Desert Bus, is more of a trick on the player, as well as a little bit of obscure political commentary.

Then Attorney General Janet Reno had come out saying that video games should teach people real life skills.  So, as a response, Desert Bus has players driving a bus at 55 MPH (that veers slightly to the right) on the eight-hour trip from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real-time.  There are no riders, and if you go off the road, the bus breaks down and is towed back to town, also in real-time.

So, in 2007 Canadian comedy troupe Loading Ready Run (whose site seems to be down at the moment, so here’s a Wikipedia entry) decided that in an effort to raise money for Child’s Play they would keep playing Desert Bus for as long as people would donate money.  They raised $22,805, including donations from Penn and Teller themselves.

The next year, Desert Bus 2: Bus Harder, was an even bigger success, raising over $70,000 over five days.

Well, they’re at it again, and things are off the a great start.  At the time of the writing, they are 30 hours in already and have raised over $28,000.  These donations have guaranteed that they will be driving for at least the next 112 hours (about 4 1/2 days).

So, please, stop by the Web site, watch the live feed for a bit, and donate a few dollars to help sick children (and punish some Canadians).

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One Response to “Desert Bus for Hope”

  1. I enjoy punishing Canadians. Sounds like my kind of charity >:D


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