It’s that time of year again. It’s a time when self-inflicted punishment is the reason for the season. It’s a time when viewers worldwide get to assume a certain strange, sick voyeuristic role. A time when all the suffering benefits a great cause. The time is the fourth annual Desert Bus for Hope charity event, and just like the preceding three years before it, online comedy troupe Loading Ready Run is poised to drive that wretched bus for days on end to raise money for the children.
For those new to the Desert Bus experience, the concept is simple. All the action goes down on Desert Bus for Hope’s website, as well as the infamous driver cam live feed. Members from Loading Ready Run (LRR) take turns playing a game called Desert Bus, from the unreleased Sega CD title “Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors”. The game has players driving a bus along the mind-numbingly long route of Tucson, AZ to Las Vegas, NV. Upon arrival at the destination (following a few hours of gameplay), the bus immediately turns around and the journey continues back home. The LRR crew drive this bus, nonstop, for days on end. The entire event is streamed live on the internet.
The twist with Desert Bus for Hope is that viewers get to control portions of the event by donating money. The more donations collected, the longer the drivers have to drive the bus. The real fun comes from the viewer requests—most benefactors will request that the group do something silly on camera for their donation. It’s a sandbox of possibility, and the viewers are the ones pulling the strings.
At the end of the event, all of the donations will go to the Child’s Play Charity. Collectively, over the last three years, Desert Bus for Hope has managed to exceed all expectations and collect an astonishing $233,677 in donations. Not bad for a group that initially hoped to only make $5,000 in its inaugural event.
A few changes are in order for Desert Bus 4. Most notably is how the crew is handling driver shifts. In the past, the designated drivers each took four hour shifts of driving before passing the controller to the next player. This year, the crew decided on brutal 24 hour shifts per driver. 6PM to 6PM of non-stop busing. This change was made primarily to let viewers see all of the drivers take their turn, no matter what viewing times their personal schedules allow each day.
There will also be more opportunities to score awesome swag with your charity dollars this year. LRR hosted an event called Desert Bus Craft-Along. They asked the community to craft unique and interesting items and to send them in for purpose of auction during the Desert Bus event. LRR received a ton of crafts, and they’ll have a auction system set up and ready to go live when the bus starts rolling. If you win the auction, you’ll get any number of cool numbers, and your cash goes into the donation pool. With sponsors like SEGA, Bethesda, and THQ in addition to the craft-along items, there are sure to be some very sweet items come across the auction block.
Loading Ready Run is also backed by Escapist Magazine now, and they’ll be providing much support as well. Not only does Escapist Magazine have their own Desert Bus landing page setup, but you can expect see familiar faces show up during the Desert Bus event, such as the inexplicably fast talker Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw.
Be sure to tune in Friday at 6PM PST when the event kicks off. If you have the money, consider donating to Desert Bus. Do it for the children! Besides, you’ll have the opportunity to win something cool or watch a room full of geeks on the internet do whatever you wish. That’s well worth the price of admission, if you ask me. In fact, I don’t know what’s more sick—that Loading Ready Run is so eager to start up this torture-fest for a fourth consecutive year, or that I am so darn excited to watch it all happen again.