'World's most boring video game' telethon raises record $1.5M for charity
Joe was living in San Francisco after landing a big tech job when he received the unexpected invitation.
“It was very sudden,” Joe says.
After he was first contacted by one of the organizers of "Desert Bus for Hope," Joe "jumped at the chance" and "booked everything last-minute."
On his own dime, Joe hopped on a plane to Victoria and spent a week helping a group of strangers with an online broadcast that featured people playing what’s been dubbed “the most boring video game ever created:" Desert Bus.
“You drive a bus from Tucson to Vegas in real-time in a bus that lists ever-so-slightly to the right,” Joe explains. “It cannot be left unattended.”
After eight hours of driving along a straight highway, you earn one point, then turn around to do it all over again.
“It’s miserable,” Joe says.
But Joe didn’t travel here to experience misery. He’s volunteering with the online telethon to encourage charity.
Graham Stark, the co-founder of Desert Bus for Hope, says the more viewers donate, the longer players drive.
“It’s a wonderful mixture of generosity and spite,” Graham explains. “You get to give to charity while you make us suffer.”
When the players aren’t taking turns enduring the driving, their viewers around the world are making suggestions about what they can do that’s more entertaining.
“It’s absolutely bizarre stuff that we could never have thought of,” Graham says the requests they end up doing, ranging from physical challenges, to comedic performances, to heartfelt conversations.
“Then we ask, if you enjoyed that, throw a couple dollars in for the charity.”
The charity is Child’s Play, which donates video games to hospitals and domestic violence shelters across Canada and around the world.
When Desert Bus for Hope first launched in 2007, organizers hoped to raise $5,000 for the charity. This year — after driving and broadcasting non-stop for more than six days straight — they raised a record total, more than C$1.5 million. That brings their 15-year total to more than US$8.3 million.
“It’s been incredible, rewarding, moving, and humbling,” Graham says.
Which brings us back to Joe, who — after being a Desert Bus volunteer for the past six years — was inspired to quit his job in San Francisco this year and move to Victoria permanently.
“I feel incredibly lucky that I get to be part of this family,” Joe says. “Not just once a year, but all the time.”
A family of generous people who transform the boring into the bountiful.