Donations to Child’s Play forced them to play Desert Bus for 135 hours straight

KELOWNA, B.C. (CUP) – After more than five straight days of gaming, Internet sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun were wracked with exhaustion in their Victoria, B.C. headquarters at the end of November.

At 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 25, the troupe completed its 135th consecutive hour of playing what is widely regarded in gaming communities as the most boring video game ever made – Desert Bus. Many of LoadingReadyRun’s members had been up for more than 24 hours by the time their quest was over.

The task was not aimless though: the comedy group raised close to $140,000 through the event, called “Desert Bus for Hope” (DBfH), for Child’s Play – a charity that donates video games, books, money and other goodies to sick children in hospitals around the world.

The success of DBfH this year was so beyond what we were expecting, I barely have words for it,” said Kathleen de Vere, a member of LoadingReadyRun. “We are all so incredibly proud and happy to have been able to do this, and be so successful.”

The challenge of DBfH was simple: the more people donated to Child’s Play, the longer the LoadingReadyRun team had to play Desert Bus. Money was also raised through charity auctions and by accepting dares for donations such as singing, re-enacting scenes from webcomics, and going to see New Moon in theatre while wearing eyeliner and tight pants.

Child’s Play benefits children’s hospitals around the world, including the B.C. Children’s Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario, and the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, N.L.

It was formed in 2003 by the founders of the webcomic Penny Arcade, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, to provide the video game community a chance to give back and change negative perceptions of gamers in the community.

Desert Bus, a mini-game from Smoke and Mirrors, a Penn and Teller video game that was never released, was a commentary on overly realistic video games. In it, the player must drive a bus from Tucson, Ariz. to Las Vegas, Nev. in real time.

The game therefore consists of driving a bus for eight hours down a bare, straight desert road. Players can’t pause or put the controller down because the bus veers slightly to the right if not corrected. Once a player reaches Las Vegas, he or she earns one point, at which point the bus turns around to drive for another in eight hours.

The world record before 2009’s event was 6 points – also set by LoadingReadyRun – and was set this year at 14 points before driver Bill Watts lost control of the bus while trying to sing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” for a donation.

According to de Vere, the event, now in its third year, has been gaining steam ever since its inception.

Our first year, people were sort of amused at what we were doing, but also very confused,” she said. “This year, the Internet basically cracked its collective knuckles and went wild.”

Fans of the comedy troupe organized a “craft-along” drive to make items for auction, and other donation items included custom sketches from Schuster-award-winning artist Ken Steacy, signed artist proofs of his work in comics, a prop Bionic Commando arm and a Fallout 3 Vault Dweller’s suit.

The link between the fans and the event, though, took it beyond a regular donation drive. It was filled with numerous side storylines, such as the instant Internet celebrity of the fan known only as “Octopimp,” who won several auctions by donating over nine thousand dollars, and the constant shaming of LoadingReadyRun member Matt Wiggins for refusing to accept a challenge (he later was forced by a challenge to see New Moon four times in a single day, which he has done).

One fan even used the event to propose, donating $20 to have his marriage proposal to another fan posted on event’s webcast overlay. She said yes.

I think DBfH really shows how amazing gamers are,” de Vere said. “I truly believe that geeks like us are actually more generous and philanthropic than a standard issue human. After this year, I am starting to suspect that the people who helped, donated, watched and encouraged us are actually super human.”

This year DBfH represented what a wonderful place the Internet could really be, and how generous and amazing individuals can be when they come together,” de Vere said. “DBfH really is about hope.”

The team comprised of many current and former students from the University of Victoria.

Although those who work with LoadingReadyRun full-time completed work beforehand to clear up their schedule, most of the volunteers took vacation to suffer exhaustion and constant Internet scrutiny by driving a virtual bus into the virtual horizon.

What drove us?” asked de Vere. “It was for the children, the whole time.”

//Andrew Bates 
CUP Western Bureau Chief

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: