We’re all familiar with the idea of the televised charity telethon. People do wacky things on camera and we give our cash to charity to ensure the wackiness continues. Whatever you think you know about charity drives, though, forget it when you watch Desert Bus For Hope.
Now in its 10th year, Desert Bus For Hope is a charity marathon that raises money for Child’s Play, an international charity that raises money for children’s hospitals around the world. They play the world’s most boring video game, Desert Bus, for as long as money keeps coming in for the kids.
What’s Desert Bus? It’s a game where you drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas. In real time. That’s about eight hours, without the ability to pause. What happens when you get to Las Vegas? You get a point, turn around, and drive back. Yup, that’s it.
Since the game is indescribably dull, the people behind Desert Bus For Hope, Canadian comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun keep the energy up in the room by singing, dancing, and generally doing daft things in the name of raising money for charity.
As I’m watching, someone is singing ‘Let’s Get Down Business’ from Mulan while someone else is dressed as a caveman in the background. Earlier on, a corgi came on camera and waved to the camera for treats. A few days ago the ‘Bus King’ pageant happened, which was won by a funky Santa holding a cardboard ghetto blaster on his shoulder. Honestly, anything can happen.
A few days ago? Yes, they’ve been driving since Saturday evening our time, and they’re currently on track to keep bussing until this Saturday coming. There’s no end in sight though, as they’re currently on over $400,000 USD and the donations are still rolling in.
There’s clearly a reason why Desert Bus For Hope has been going for so long. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into running a charity stream this big, but also a lot of love. When hustling for more donations, we’re told that ‘it’s for the children!’ Every time someone looks rather tired or emotional, the whole room piles in for hugs. Even the chat room is pleasant, thanks to a mostly awesome fan base and an excellent moderator team.
When a lot of the world is feeling despondent over recent events, Desert Bus For Hope couldn’t have come at a better time. If you want to see how lovely people can be, I recommend you go watch the stream over at DesertBus.org. If you’re into video games and general geeky stuff, there’s lots of competitions worth entering too. You can win cool stuff by giving money to charity! There’s no better feeling than that.
I’ll be sad when Desert Bus For Hope ends this year. However, I may actually get some work done.
Thanks to Desert Bus For Hope and Andrew Ferguson for their help putting this together. You can check out Andrew’s photography at goldengod.net.
Siobhan Harper is a freelance writer living in Birmingham UK. She strongly believes in figuring things out as you go along, but only because she's pathalogically disorganised. You can follow her adventures in writing at http://wingingitsiobhanharper.blogspot.co.uk/, or her thoughts on early mornings and dogs on Twitter at @Beatrix_Plotter.