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Desert Bus for Hope charity celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first run

Looks to eclipse $4 million mark, all time

Desert Bus Imagineering/Absolute Entertainment
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Beep beep, the Bus is back.

Desert Bus for Hope, one of the progenitors of the video gaming charity marathon, celebrates its 10th anniversary of its first fund raiser this year, with more grueling, real-time drives between Tucson and Las Vegas on the Sega CD. Follow the action via Twitch right here.

The second day already is underway and the team at Loading, Ready Run is about 22 hours into an obligation that stands at 128 hours, and will surely climb.

That’s because, in Desert Bus for Hope, each hour of driving is gated by a donation level. As of now, Desert Bus for Hope has raised almost $87,000, and another $1,200 in donations will buy the Loading, Ready Run, the comedy team from British Columbia, another hour of misery behind the wheel.

To recap, Desert Bus was designed to be the most boring and unenjoyable video game of its time. It was a minigame on Penn & Teller’s Smoke & Mirrors, which was an unreleased video game planned to launch on Sega CD in 1995, around the time of the big moral panic over video game violence that gave rise to the ESRB. According to Penn Jillette, Desert Bus was meant to be something that Janet Reno, the severe U.S. attorney general of the time, could never object to.

Though Smoke & Mirrors never launched, around a decade ago someone dug out a ROM of it, and playing Desert Bus became A Thing, and Loading, Ready Run decided to use it as a charity stunt to raise money for Child’s Play. The philanthropy of Penny Arcade, Child’s Play provides toys, video games and other fun things to children’s hospitals for patients and their families who are there for long-term treatments. It also supports children at domestic violence shelters and advocacy centers.

The first bus trip, in 2007, raised $22,805. The one in 2016 raised more than 30 times that, $695,242.57. Each year has raised more money than the preceding one. Combined, the team has raised more than $3.8 million heading into this latest marathon. If the spirit moves you, contribute by going to the Desert Bus for Hope homepage.

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