Low-resolution image of four young men playing air guitar in the background while a fifth young man in the foreground plays the Desert Bus video game using only one hand on the controller.

Desert Bus for Hope 2 drives onto the Internet…for the children!

[Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally written during the second run of Desert Bus for Hope.]

One of the best things about having a blog is that you can talk about things that may sometimes only be tangentially-related to the blog’s topic.

Today, I’d like to talk about Desert Bus for Hope, a video gaming marathon for the Child’s Play charity, which was started by the guys at Penny Arcade, who are a webcomic just like Multiplex, which was started by Gordon who [was] my boss.

Desert Bus is the most boring video game ever (here are the Wikipedia details):

The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time at a maximum speed of 45mph, a feat that would take the player 8 hours of continuous play to complete, as the game cannot be paused.

The bus contains no passengers, and there is no scenery or other cars on the road. The bus veers to the right slightly; as a result, it is impossible to tape down a button to go do something else and have the game end properly. If the bus veers off the road it will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time. If the player makes it to Las Vegas, they will score exactly one point. The player then gets the option to make the return trip to Tucson—for another point (a decision they must make in a few seconds or the game ends). Players may continue to make trips and score points as long as their endurance holds out. Some players who have completed the trip have also noted that, although the scenery never changes, a bug splats on the windscreen about five hours through the first trip, and on the return trip the light does fade, with differences at dusk, and later a pitch black road where the player is guided only with headlights.

Last year, the gang at Loading Ready Run who create short comedic skits on a weekly basis decided that they would play this never-released video game non-stop in exchange donations to be sent to Child’s Play, on an exponential basis. In other words, the more people donated, the longer they would have to keep playing. The gang only expected to get $5,000 or so at the most; the final tally last year was $22,805 after 3 days of 24-hour busing that was also streamed live.

This year, they’ve beaten their old record and as of this typing have earned $24,053 over 2 days and 11 hours, have had actor Wil Wheaton call in, will have Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh from The Guild call in later today, and one of the core cast members from LRR will shave off his trademark beard. All for the children!

So check out their site, watch the cams, donate some money, and enjoy the schadenfreude. They’ve already got me for $25 so far, and I may just end up donating my entire blogging paycheck this month if they keep going.

For the children!