It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
Most of the time when you read that sentence, it means that something terrible has happened. But this wasn’t most times – this was Desert Bus for Hope (https://desertbus.org/), an annual marathon playing the world’s most boring video game to raise money for the Child’s Play charity.
And when it comes to Desert Bus, all bets are off in the most wonderful way possible.
For several years, the amount raised had been increasing. In 2015, Desert Bus raised $683,720. 2016 saw the year’s total reach $695,242. By then, the Desert Bus crew, spearheaded by Victoria BC’s LoadingReadyRun, has started to wonder how long it would be until the amount reached a plateau. It had, at least, been slowing down.
At Desert Bus 11 in 2017, it looked like they had their answer – for the first time since the marathon began, the total amount decreased, coming in at $655,402. As far as anybody could tell, the plateau had been found at last. Desert Bus for Hope had reached the annual limit of what people could give.
But then came 2018, and Desert Bus 12.
It was the last day. The marathon was almost over, and the final giveaway was done. It looked like the total would come out somewhere between Desert Bus 10 and Desert Bus 11. Over the next couple of hours, the donations would taper off, turn into a trickle, and come to an end. But something else happened instead.
At 9:40 PM PST, they broke through the total of Desert Bus 10, hitting $697,879. A minute later, they broke the $700,000 barrier. Within 10 minutes after, LoadingReadyRun founder Graham Stark declared that he had lost the ability to process big numbers.
And the tally kept rising.
At 10:08 PM, they reached $718,958, flabbergasting the Desert Bus crew and setting a milestone: for the first time in Desert Bus’ 12 year history, they would be busing for 160 hours instead of 159.
The donation spurt was coming to an end, however. Slowly but surely, the rate of donations began to taper off. Just over an hour and a half later, the still-mounting tally had hit $723,135. By the time that hour 160 had come and gone, the final total came out to $730,099. They had beaten the previous year by around $75,000, and they had done it without the help of any giveaways. It was nothing less than an astounding spontaneous and sustained burst of charity.
But that is Desert Bus for Hope. It is a marathon where people play a terrible video game and perform improv for a full week to help make the lives of hospitalized children better. It is a resounding rebuttal to the idea of toxic gamer culture, seven days of giving and joyfulness and positivity. It is a crystal moment where the gaming and pop culture community as a whole comes together to make the world a better place. And it is an event where all bets are off, always in the best possible way.
And this year’s Desert Bus starts at 8:00 AM PST on November 8 at https://www.twitch.tv/desertbus.
Robert B. Marks is a writer and editor in the area of Kingston, Ontario, and a corporate sponsor of Desert Bus under his business, Legacy Books Press.