The Joke Bus Game That Turned into a Real Charity Drive

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It all began as a joke…

Master magicians Penn & Teller created a compilation of satirical minigames for the Sega CD called Penn & Teller’s Smoke & Mirrors. The game was intended to be a political statement on the anti-gaming lobbyists of the 1990s who blamed video games for society’s problems. Unfortunately, by the time the game was complete, the Sega CD system was dead. More so, the developer and publisher both went under. And yet, through some miracle, the minigame Desert Bus somehow saw the light of day.

Desert Bus is a simulator where the player drives a bus from Tuscon, AZ to Las Vegas, NV going 45 MPH…in real time. Also, the bus veers slightly to the right the whole time. The game takes eight hours of nonstop gameplay since the game can not be paused. Once the drive is complete, the player has a few seconds to decide if they want to make the return trip. If the bus runs off the road, it must be towed also in real time. Basically, this game was created to be the most inoffensive hell a masochistic gamer could possibly endure.

Then in 2007, internet comedy group LoadingReadyRun decided to put the painful game to good use by creating Desert Bus For Hope, a charity event in which the comedians marathon Desert Bus to raise money for Child’s Play. Over the years, they’ve raised more than $2.4 million for the charity.

And now, they’re back at it again. LoadingReadyRun is live right now marathoning Desert Bus for their latest charity drive. Unlike the usual 24-hour marathon, the more contributors donate, the longer the group will keep playing. Starting at $1 for the first hour, each hour’s price goes up 7%. This means that to continue for a 2nd hour, they would need to raise $1.07, a third hour would be $1.14, etc. See the handy chart on the right to see how it breaks down. Last year, the group played for 158 total hours and raised $653,415. How long will they continue this year? That’s up to you.

So fire up Twitch, reach deep into your wallets, and help these awesome people endure their suffering for a great cause!

Feature image credit: Taylor Windham

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