Desert Bus for Hope is an annual charity telethon on Twitch that raises money for Child’s Play. It kicks off on Friday, November 17 at 10:00 AM PST, and runs for about a week. A group of comics and volunteers headed by Victoria’s Loading Ready Run plays Desert Bus for as long as viewers keep donating money. Last year, they raised $695,242.57, and this year, they might break $700,000.
Desert Bus is a game created by Penn and Teller to show what a realistic video game would look like, and it competes with Daikatana for the title of the worst video game ever made. The player drives a bus from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada…in real time. It takes eight hours. If they get there, they get a point, and have to drive back. And, the bus lists to the right. If the bus crashes, it gets towed back…in real time.
They also perform improv, turn themselves into the puppets of the Twitch chat by doing challenges, carry out giveaways, silent auctions, and live auctions, and have celebrity call-ins. This year, for example, the writer of Rogue One, Gary Whitta is calling in at 4:00 PM PST on Saturday, November 18th.
All of the donations are handled through the Desert Bus homepage, with the money going directly to Child’s Play. If you want to participate in the live auctions, you’re going to need to link your Desert Bus account to your Twitch account, as they’re all done in chat.
The live auctions can be insane—items rarely go for under $1,000, and a packet of silica gel once sold to Notch (the creator of Minecraft) for $10,000. So, if you want to stand a chance at winning one of the live auctions, you’re going to need a budget of at least $5,000, if not more. The silent auctions are a bit more affordable—they tend to stay under $1,500.
The team driving the bus picks a figure for the donation drive (like $7.01), and everybody who donates a multiple of that amount gets entered into a draw (with one entry for every multiple – so if you donate $14.02, you get two entries, and if you donate $21.03, you get three, etc.). At the end of that donation drive, they draw the winning entry using a computer. If you win, they ship it to you using the address you provided when you created your Desert Bus account. And they ship them out FAST—prizes have been known to arrive before the telethon is over.
With the setup they’ve got right now, Child’s Play can outfit a hospital room with a complete video game system for under $20. Think about that—for less than the cost of an indie game on Steam, you can help not only a sick child and their family, but every single child and family who use that room after them. That’s a really low barrier to making a huge difference for the better in a lot of lives.
Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more by Robert B. Marks such as Creating Dread: The Design Decisions Behind Horror Games and How Diablo Became an Instant Classic!
Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!
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