The ninth annual Desert Bus for Hope starts tomorrow, Saturday November 14th at 10 AM PST, and I am so excited. During this week-long streaming event, internet comedians Loading Ready Run raise money for Child’s Play, a charity that provides toys and games to children in hospitals and shelters. The more money they raise, the longer they broadcast. I’ve watched every year since the beginning, when they raised a only $22,000. Last year they broke $600,000 – putting their lifetime fundraising total at over $2.4 million dollars.
Desert Bus for Hope is the world’s longest-running internet-based streaming fundraiser. It is also an exercise in glorious suffering. Instead of picking a game that is fun to play, our unfortunate drivers are saddled with the eponymous Desert Bus, a bus-driving sim created as a joke by magicians Penn and Teller for the unreleased Sega CD game Smoke and Mirrors. So we have a video game streaming event that predates Twitch, created by an internet comedy troupe who predate youtube, playing a game that shouldn’t exist. Then it gets weird… but it’s probably best to let Loading Ready Run explain themselves.
Desert Bus for Hope is much more than funny people playing a terrible video game – it’s a community, and everyone gets involved in a different way. Dozens of nerdy crafters donate prizes that are auctioned off or given away, hundreds of people participate in their interactive chat, and thousands of people watch and donate.
While one unfortunate person drives the virtual bus for an eight-hour shift, their entertaining friends slowly go mad around them. Different drivers and performers have different styles, so there’s something for everybody. Every eight hours, you’ll get a new driver and a new crew of sleep-deprived entertainers dancing for your amusement – sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively. While you wait for tomorrow morning, you can check out their giveaways, auctions, and scheduled celebrity call-ins at desertbus.org.