Like most of you reading this, I love playing video games. Played them my entire life, from the original Nintendo Entertainment System as a kid to the glory of days of Nintendo 64 and Banjo-Kazooie (my favorite on that platform) to the latest and greatest available on the newest platforms, with plenty of Mariokart along the way.
In all that time, I don't know that I have much to show for it other than enjoyment. I imagine most of us are in that same boat.
Thanks to Loading Ready Run's Desert Bus for Hope, that's all changed. And it begins today.
Part of the unreleased Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, a would-be Sega CD game from the '90s, Desert Bus is one of the best trolls to ever make it into video game lore. Players drive from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada at 45 miles per hour, in real time. The scenery is boring, almost nothing changes, and there's not much going on. Except, well, the bus veers slightly to the right so you can never take your hands off the wheel. Make it to the end? Great! You've scored a point. Now you can start the drive back.
It's been touted as the worst video game ever made, and yet every year it accomplishes some of the best gaming can ever offer – people donate to keep the LRR crew driving. And driving. And driving. To the tune of around $3.75 million over 10 years in donations, all of which goes to benefit Child's Play Charity.
"All of this that we do goes to benefit Child's Play, which gives to domestic violence shelters and children's hospitals," said Dan Wu, a member of the Desert Bus for Hope team. "The goal is to make the lives of children in hospitals better."
Child's Play does that by working with hospitals to set up wishlists for children, connecting donors directly to these hospitals to send a gift. The charity also works to provide consoles and games for hospitals, allowing sick children to enjoy "age-appropriate entertainment, interact with their peers, friends and family, and provide a vital distraction from an otherwise generally unpleasant experience."
Desert Bus for Hope – and its dedicated group of volunteers plus thousands of viewers and donors – have been a major part of that.
And what would a gaming marathon be without some sweet loot? Every year the stream features tons of giveaways and auctions. And of course Magic is included in that.
"This year we have a ton of good Magic prizes, and some of the highlights are multiple uncut sheets, Comic-Con and HasCon exclusive promos," Wu said. "There's also a premium Vintage Masters foil set for Magic Online, Conspiracy and Commander products, and a lot more like a "golden ticket," good for one free entry to any Grand Prix in the world next year."
The week-long event is truly a marathon, and it takes a village to make it happen. But it's all worth it in the end – the silly skits, the embarrassing viewer-driven moments and, of course, the hours upon hours of driving between Tucson and Las Vegas.
And this year will be even more special – the team is set to achieve a major milestone this year when it will surely surpass $4 million lifetime. And hope springs eternal, just like the endless gas tank on the Desert Bus, and the team hopes to surpass $4.5 million this year.
You can follow all the action here, and this is one road trip you don't want to miss out on. And don't forget to keep the bus going by donating. There's nothing better than donating to children in need.