Desert Bus for Hope, one of the oldest gaming marathons for charity, concluded its 2015 run yesterday, driving 159 brain-congealing hours nonstop and setting a ninth consecutive record for donations.
All told, Desert Bus for Hope raised $677,188 over its six-day, 15-hour span, beating last year's $643,242.58. Since 2007, the fund drive has raised more than $3 million for Child's Play, the Penny Arcade charity that gives video games, toys and other recreational items to hospitals serving kids with serious illnesses.
The weeklong event, run by the comedy team Loading Ready Run of Victoria, B.C., straps in its drivers for eight-hour shifts at the wheel of Desert Bus, a deliberately awful minigame from the unreleased Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors for Sega CD back in the mid-1990s. In it, one drives a highway bus route between Tucson, Ariz. and Las Vegas. In real time.
In case you're thinking one can just tape down a button and drive the 360 godforsaken virtual miles, the Desert Bus bus was programmed to have an alignment problem, and veer off into a ditch unless the operator actively steers it on the center of the lane. Any crash results in a tow back to Tucson — also in real time.
Correction: Due to a terrible math error by the writer, the previous version of this story halved the amount of brain-congealing time driven in the marathon. It is 159 hours.