Somewhere, right now, in Victoria, British Columbia, a group of people are subjecting themselves to a terrible horror–a torture so vile and disgusting that originally it was never meant to see the light of day.
Within a darkened den, these people play a game together, non-stop, for days on end. In a sick twist of fate, thousands of people watch, and throw money their way to prolong the suffering. The people are Loading Ready Run, and the event is Desert Bus for Hope. And the money? All to charity.
Loading Ready Run is an online sketch comedy group that releases a new original video each week. Started by Graham Stark and Paul Saunders in 2003, Loading Ready Run (LRR) has yet to miss their weekly deadline. Their clever and quirky videos often focus on geek and video game humor and, on many occasions, spoof well-known television shows and other items of pop culture media.
During the fall of 2007, LRR embarked upon a great crusade for charity: Dubbed Desert Bus for Hope, the event had the members of LRR constantly playing the “Desert Bus” minigame on the unreleased Sega CD title “Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors”. The game simulates a bus commute from Tucsan, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. Once the journey has been made, the bus turns around and the drive continues.
Desert Bus relies on constant input from the player as the bus slowly veers to the right. Desert Bus for Hope has the crew playing the game for an undetermined amount of time. As viewers donate money to the event, play hours are slowly tacked onto the total drive time. Every dollar donated to the event goes directly to the Child’s Play charity.
The last two years of Desert Bus have shown tremendous success for Child’s Play. In 2007, the team raised $22,805. Last year, Desert Bus for Hope raised an incredible $70,423. Projections for 2009 suggest an even higher amount, as the event has only been underway for a few hours, and more than half of the 2007 total has already been donated.
The real magic of Desert Bus for Hope comes from the live broadcast of the players as they suffer through the game, 24 hours a day. The event is being broadcast on Ustream, and it is an absolute blast to watch. As viewers donate money, they will often request that the crew perform some sort of ridiculous act in return. Past examples have included singing, shaved heads, forced viewing of Twilight multiple times, and dressing up in bizarre ways. The prospects of having a virtual rat cage full of people prepared to do anything to raise charity money produces some very entertaining results.
Desert Bus for Hope 2009 has only just begun. At this point in time, the team will be busing for at least four days. Take a glance at the Desert Bus for Hope website, watch the live stream of the action, and donate some money. It’s not every day that you get to donate to charity and make a room full of people miserable at the same time. Fortunately for us, the feelings are bittersweet, as LRR knows that they suffer for a good cause.