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Desert Bus is back for a 12th trip in the name of charity

Marathoners play the worst and most hideous game in history for a good cause

Desert Bus Mofo the Psychic Gorilla
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Desert Bus for Hope, one of the longest-running video game charity marathon events in world history, returns next month for the 12th straight year. The organizers at LoadingReadyRun will gas up Nov. 9 and drive the dumbest video game ever made until the donations stop.

All of the excitement of piloting a 16-bit bus on the road between Tucson and Las Vegas, in real fucking time, will be streamed via Twitch when the marathon kicks off. To date, Desert Bus for Hope has raised more than $4 million for Child’s Play Charities, the philanthropy founded by Penny Arcade creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.

Last year’s marathon ran for 158 hours and raised more than $650,000. The concept behind this event is that LoadingReadyRun’s organizers and friends commit to drive the Desert Bus as long as money keeps coming in. Donations “buy” extra hours at the wheel. Because this is a dreadfully boring esport, the hosts also perform songs, skits and other distractions to keep viewers entertained and/or sedated.

Desert Bus (along with Mofo the Psychic Gorilla) was a minigame in the unreleased Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors planned for Sega CD. Had Smoke and Mirrors launched, it would have been the greatest video game of 1994, in a year that included Final Fantasy 6, TIE Fighter, Darkstalkers and Jazz Jackrabbit, the seminal work of legendary developer Clifford Bleszinski. Around the time Smoke and Mirrors was cancelled, a Japanese electronics firm launched a product called the “PlayStation,” that would ultimately win the console war with the Sega CD.