Don’t Desert The Bus

Apparently we’re “always a little late to the party” about Desert Bus For Hope, the charity play-a-thon of Penn & Teller’s notoriously and horrifically cruel/tedious driving sim. Sniff. Well, let’s get it right this time. It kicks off in about nine hours, and the current plan is for five drivers to do a 24 hour shift each. Previously, shifts were four hours. So it’s safe to say it’s going to hurt this time around. Reeeeeeally hurt.

You can follow progress here, but clearly it’s going to be a little on the unbelievably, Oh God make it stop boring side, so they’re promising to spice it up with “live auctions, silent auctions, incredible prizes and a complete lack of self respect. We’ll also be accepting challenges to do all manner of silly things (Songs, Dances, Poems, Readings, etc) in exchange for donations.”

Yes – donations. That’s the key, innit? Last year, the crazy-arsed scheme earned over $140,000 for the Child’s Play charity. It’s got $4,600 in the bag this year already, but clearly it needs moremoremore. So gogogo. These chaps are going to themselves through utter hell for your entertainment and any number of children’s well-being. The least you could do is help. And the more you help, they more they will drive/suffer. Desert Bus footage below, in case somehow you’ve never heard of it.

Here’s a trailer too:

And here’s what Penn-minus-Teller had to say about the 2008 drive:

Oh, and you can also keep tabs on things via Twitter.


  1. RQH says:

    Having driven for a twelve hour or so shift across half of New Mexico, all of Arizona, and the desert half of Southern California, after staying up the previous twelve-hours riding shotgun through west Texas this past summer, I feel as if I’ve already done this. Except at higher speeds. With better graphics. Judging from how /fun/ (ahem, not) that experience was, I really feel sorry for these guys and also feel no desire to encourage them. I think I will make my Child’s Play donation more directly.

  2. Unaco says:

    24 Hour shifts? As I understand, the game cannot be paused (and I’m assuming they are eschewing mechanical means, or emulation tricks, to keep the Bus going straight)… so, I’m hoping they’ve given ‘comfort breaks’ enough consideration and we aren’t going to see a string of grown men/women soiling themselves on camera. For charity. Or is that lined up for Children in Need this weekend?

    • Rich says:

      Aren’t periodic breaks mandatory for coach drivers?
      Anyone for simulated Little Chef?

    • Xocrates says:

      If I recall correctly, it wasn’t unusual for them to ask someone else in the room to “drive” whenever they required a break in previous editions.

    • Marcem says:

      They do not use tricks to steer the bus, only manual steering.

  3. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    Yeah, I never understand the whole “Sponsor my stupidity for charity!” thing. It’s great if it gets more people to give to charity, but surely there are more constructive ways of doing so? Also, I just generally prefer to give directly to my favourite charity and buy from charity shops…

    • Zyrxil says:

      Well that’s the point. A lot of people aren’t going to give directly to charity. This is exactly like elementary school charity ‘races’ where you pay kids $5 for each arbitrary distance unit they run. Some people, like school principals, just need to see their money go to people torturing themselves than directly to charity.

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      “It’s great if it gets more people to give to charity”

      Now you do understand it! Hurrah!

    • jalf says:

      surely there are more constructive ways of doing so

      More constructive than.. getting people to give money to charity?

  4. Tei says:

    Bill Gates is the modern robing hood. He steal from the rich countrys, and he then pay (buy?) high official in poor countrys. Thats how he managed to get OOXML approved as a standard. With donations to high profile politicians in poor countries (every vote count to get something standarized ).

    Oops. we are talking about other type of donations. My bad.

  5. BigJonno says:

    I just love it when people find some way to moan at, complain about or question charitable endeavours. It’s the pinnacle of mean-spirited curmudgeonly behaviour, just above kicking puppies.

  6. Bascule42 says:


  7. Mike says:

    This features in one of the ‘life well wasted’ podcasts if people are interested in more info on this. I’m guessing not though…

  8. somnolentsurfer says:

    I hope this route is going to be included in that bus sim you posted about the other day.

  9. Out Reach says:

    Watched this last year and it was brilliant :)

  10. Scandalon says:

    I love how penn-minus-teller doesn’t really know what he’s talking about RE: Child’sPlay, but hearing his take on how DB came to be was fun.

  11. Reddin says:

    Last years was great, I’ll make sure to have a window open any time I’m at home :-)

  12. President Weasel says:

    The live stream got hit pretty hard last time; there’s something strangely compelling about watching people try to stay awake while performing a terribly boring task. I intend to give them some cash this year, although I usually save my donation to near the end, for the small joy of moving the finishing line that little bit further away from them.
    If I remember right the Loading Ready Run website has some decent comedy on it too.

  13. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    My god, I am sure that there is a geneva convention to stop this, I mean, that is a form of psychological torture, surely!

    All for giving to charity though, so Torture away!
    (Myself I prefer giving to the RSPCA – I love cuddly furry things XD)

  14. jalf says:

    So, how is this about PC games again? ;)

    Ahem.. sorry.

    • Deacon Blues says:

      Whining about an article about charity because it doesn’t match your expectations of what a blog you have no say over should publish. Quintessential nerd.

      And Desert Bus is more fun than any tower defense game.

  15. terry says:

    This’ll be the third year I’ve watched this (er, well had the window open) and it becomes more painful every year. Kudos to these masochists, I couldn’t stomach much of the P&T game in general but Desert Bus is the most merciless, unfathomably unengaging part of it.

  16. MrEvilGuy says:

    I had some fun tricking those comedians last night using the chat… Also, it’s strange I heard about it from RPS considering they’re doing this in the same province as me.