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In 2007, Victoria sketch comedy group Loading Ready Run organized a gaming marathon for the benefit of Child's Play, a charity helping children's hospitals. The game used? Desert Bus, a bus-driving "verisimulator" that has the player drive from Tucson to Las Vegas (and back). This takes about 8 real-life hours. A one-way trip scores a point. The game cannot be paused. Going off the road or stopping results in the motor overheating and a tow truck dragging your bus back to the starting point in real time.
Have we mentioned the bus veers slightly to the right, requiring constant player supervision?
To spare their sanity, Loading Ready Run organized the fundraiser so that each consecutive hour "cost" 7% more than the previous hour, starting at US $1 for the first hour. So for them to continue playing after 5 hours, for example, $5.75 (or 1+1.07+1.15+1.21+1.31) would have needed to be donated by that time through the desertbus.org website. The first time around, they hoped for $5,000 in donations. They got $22,805. The total has climbed every year; 2011's Desert Bus 5 raised $383,000, enough to buy 150 hours of solid busing.
But the real key to the success of Desert Bus For Hope is not the Schadenfreude resulting from donating to a good cause to make gamers suffer, it's due to the fact that they stream their experience live and have a dedicated IRC channel, which allows viewers to interact with the on-duty driver and attending hangers on. Plus, for enough money, fans can issue "challenges" to the team. This has led to all sorts of memorable shenanigans.
- Ascended Meme: A lot, due to the participation from the online chat. The LRR crew is constantly 'appoint', Rick-rolls and Carmelldansen pop up from time to time, and Desert Bus 4 introduced their helpful Bothans, many of which have died to help the childrens.
- Audience Participation Song: During a group singing of Intergalactic, the Desert Bus Chat sang the chorus.
Graham: "We'll do the chorus," thank you chat room.
Jer: Yes, chat room, you must sing along.
- Catgirl: In DBFH3, Tally and Kathleen were dressed as some. Although most of the crew had a turn with those cat ears...
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Desert Bus itself, obviously, but also...
- In DBFH2, donations were made to make Matt see Twilight. He had to see it four times in total. The next year, he pledged to see New Moon as many times as possible during a day if the donation total rose to 100K. He had to see it six times in all.
- For Desert Bus 5, Matt insisted that he only go and see Breaking Dawn if Desert Bus for Hope could reach $500,000 lifetime donations (which required about $57,000 this year) within 36 hours of the marathon starting. If they did it within 24 hours (James's shift), James would have to go and see it with him. The donations almost made it within the 24-hour mark, and James agreed to see it anyway.
- Creepy Doll: The one and only.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Literally, with the only entity ever able to accomplish such a feat: the Creepy Doll
- Hidden Depths: Paul Saunders, cutscene snarker, website designer, comedy writer, and consummate geek...with the voice of an angel. #TeamPaulSexual, indeed.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Desert Bus for Hope, Desert Bus for Hope 2: Bus Harder, Desert Bus for Hope 3: It's Desert Bus 6 In Japan, Desert Bus IV: A New Hope, and De5ert Bus for Hope: Busing is Magic (the Gathering).
- Insistent Terminology: Graham did not crash. Solid Snake crashed.
- Laugh Themselves Sick: Graham and Kate when presented with QWOP.
- Marathon Level: The whole game.
- Manly Tears: The ending of De5ert Bus. Graham just couldn't hold it in and most of the cast went with him. Except for James cause he's a dick.
- Mood Whiplash: After a story about a little girl being diagnosed with lymphoma:
Graham: So who wants to sing The Internet is For Porn?
- Music Video: Tuscon or Bust, courtesy of Andy Cownden
- Rocks Fall Everybody Dies: In Desert Bus 4, the crew ran a Pathfinder game involving Lava Bears. At one stage, they activated a trap and lava fell from the ceiling. Almost Total Party Kill. This suits this trope particularly well, because what is lava? Molten rocks.
- The Scapegoat: Matt is responsible for all technical faults, and even managed to crash the bus while asleep at home during DBFH5.
- Serial Escalation: The donations just keep going up and up and up, to the point where a single auction in Desert Bus 4 went for $4300... just short of the goal for DBFH1!
- And it was taken even further in DB 5 with a sheet of uncut foil rare Magic cards from Innistrad going for 10,000 dollars (bought by Notch).
- Caramelldansen Vid: They did it six times. But we only have these two videos. For now...
- They did an endurance round of it in DBFH4. Four times in a row.
- Team Pet: Roscoe P. Jangles IV, Jer's pet (stuffed) duck
- Tempting Fate: In Desert Bus 4, the crew were challenged to hail Cthulhu ten hours in. They did. The bus promptly crashed.
- To the Pain: Donating with one hour left on the clock.
- Happened during Desert Bus 5 so that the team had to bus for a whole extra hour, which gave them time to wrap things up.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Penny Arcade's posts promoting Desert Bus For Hope quickly turned to the theme of "Dance, monkey, dance!" They even promised to match the donation total (up to a chosen threshold) as part of "Operation Infinite Bus".
Tycho: It is our objective to make these people drive until driving that Goddamned bus is the only life they can remember. We will match all donations to Desert Bus For Hope, starting now, until we reach a cap of ten thousand dollars...Think of it like a buff for your donations, an augmentation for your generosity. Also, think of it as creating a prison, a prison made of money, from which these young men may never escape.
- Unusual Euphemism: Since it's for the children, cursing is replaced by variants on "bus".