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In 2007, Victoria sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun 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.

And the bus veers slightly to the right so that the player can't just use something to automatically hold the driving button down.

To spare their sanity, LoadingReadyRun 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 website. The first time around, they hoped for $5,000 in donations. They got $22,805. The total has climbed almost every year:

  • 2013's Desert Bus 7 raised ... a little more. $523,348, to be exact. Enough to buy almost 6 and a half days of solid busing.
  • 2014's Desert Bus 8 raised $635,415, breaking the $2,000,000 mark for lifetime donations.
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  • 2015's Desert Bus 9 raised $676,883, shattering the $3,000,000 lifetime donation mark.
  • Desert Bus 10 raised $695,343.
  • Desert Bus 2017, for the first time ever, raised less than the year before: $650,215.
  • Desert Bus 2018 continued the drive's upward trend with $730,100 raised.
  • Desert Bus 2019 surpassed the record once again, raising $864,415 and reaching the $6,000,000 lifetime total.
  • Desert Bus 2020, despite being held remotely due to ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, was the first to break the 1 million total - raising $1,052,902note  and bringing the lifetime total to over $7,000,000.
  • Desert Bus 2021 also broke the 1 million total and then some, raising $1,189,143.

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 because 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.



  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Jacob invokes this trope when narrating how he learned to drink whiskey.
  • Always Someone Better: Desert Kris for (More) Hope - which claims to be a more successful one-man spin-off of Desert Bus for Hope, with Kris Straub as The Ace.
  • Ascended Meme: The Desert Bus For Hope meme "Play Minecraft, Watch Top Gear, Get Pig" is now a possible intro text in Minecraft, thanks to an expensive auction by a generous Notch.
  • 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.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Played for Laughs in Alex's Evangelion-inspired intro in Desert Bus 2017: Some Japanese text is briefly shown that reads "Watashiwa shimasen wakaru Nihongo", which are words that literally mean "I," "don't," "understand," and "Japanese" but don't form a grammatically correct Japanese sentence: Exactly what one would expect from someone who doesn't understand Japanese.
    • Also a favourite recurring challenge is getting people to read things (usually Magic: The Gathering cards from the "Rosewattastone" Twitter account) that have been auto-translated through multiple languages and back to English, which often results in these kinds of translation.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kroze is rapidly taking this position on the team during Desert Bus 5.
    • Matt is scapegoated for every crash.
  • Cat Girl: 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 would only go and see Breaking Dawn if Desert Bus For Hope could reach $500,000 lifetime donations (which required about $57,000 that 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. Was literally called "Creepy Doll" until he was renamed "Harry."
  • Dead Guy Junior: Bill - one of the founding members of LoadingReadyRun - passed away in early 2016. That year's Desert Bus had the in-game bus driver's name set to "Bill" for the duration.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Literally, with the only entity ever able to accomplish such a feat: the Creepy Doll
  • Down to the Last Play: The final hours of any given year are sure to see a massive uptick in donations. Sometimes, this uptick is needed to get the toteboard to cross the previous year's mark.
  • Hidden Depths: Paul Saunders, cutscene snarker, website designer, comedy writer, and consummate geek...with the voice of an angel. #TeamPaulSexual, indeed.
  • Hot Drink Cure: During DB2018, Jacob told a story about a trip to Ireland during which he was in extreme pain from an abscessed tooth and an old lady gave him a hot toddy that pretty much anaesthetised him.
  • 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, De5ert Bus for Hope, Desert Bus for Hope 6: Desert Bus 3 in America, Desert Bus 007, Desert Bus 8, Desert Bus 9, DBX, Desert Bus for Hope 2017, Desert Bus for Hope 2018, Untitled Bus Fundraiser by Desert Bus for Hope.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Graham did not crash. Solid Snake crashed.
    • X didn't crash the bus, Matt crashed the bus,
  • Laugh Themselves Sick: Graham and Kate when presented with QWOP. Also Alex, when Graham starts talking about ASS: The Musical.
    • This happens often enough that whenever someone collapses in a fit of laughter, they're said to have "died" (as in, died laughing).
  • 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.
    • The end of Desert Bus 10 gives us this speech by Alex.
    • DB10 had a few of them (possibly because it was 2016, a memetically crappy year - not to mention the year of the first known instance of an LRR cast member dying). In addition to Alex's speech, there was Paul's wavery-voiced tribute to Leonard Cohen, a recently deceased hero of his.
  • Medal of Dishonor: When anyone on the team does something wrong, they are presented with a 'Shame Ticket', issued by Ash or Serge, detailing their crime. A shame ticket could say anything from "I crashed the bus" to "Johnny Doorslammer" to "I broke the other arm off the lobster" to "I can't keep my skin intact" to "I wrote an unauthorized shame ticket" to "I know what I did" to "I've gone mad with shame power".
  • Memetic Mutation:invoked They reference a lot of memes, thanks 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.
    • Graham has stated that any given Desert Bus meme has an average "half-life" of about 1 1/2 years.
  • Mood Whiplash
    • After a story about a little girl being diagnosed with lymphoma:
      Graham: So who wants to sing The Internet is For Porn?
    • A previously-scheduled prize giveaway ended in the middle of the impromptu "Cam and Kathleen Give Healthful Advice" hour, which was filled with much serious Q&A regarding fashion and diet:
      Graham: This is fascinating... and educational... But I need to give someone Magic cards.
    • Lampshaded by Kathleen during DB 2017, after a profound and emotional discussion about the value of the work done by Child's Play and DBFH was followed abruptly by a dance party.
      Kathleen: Ah, Desert Bus. Come for the wacky shenanigans, stay for the emotional whiplash.
      Alex: Well, the bus has no seatbelts.
  • Motor Mouth: Graham earned this title after managing to sing "Hardware Store" by "Weird Al" Yankovic almost perfectly. He had to take two breaths.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Turning one of the worst video games (even if it's a deconstruction on how full scale realism wouldn't make for a good game) into a charity-driven (and a highly profitable one, to boot!) event.
  • Music Video: Tucson or Bust, courtesy of Andy Cownden
  • Non Sequitur: The "Hamfather" sketch in DB19, where a waiter would suddenly show up with a slab of ham and serve some to everyone present while music from The Godfather played in the background. This repeated several times with slight variations—once with live musicians!—but no one ever acted like it was unusual, and once the ham-serving ended they went straight back to what they were doing as if nothing happened. No one on-set even acknowledged the existence of this bit until after the last "episode," when they explained the whole concept.
  • Noodle Incident: The semi-spontaneous "Gangnam Hell" sketch apparently drew some complaints for being legitimately disturbing, so it has become this, with the bus crew no longer willing to even explain what it was (though it can still be found on Youtube).
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: Oh, so many.
  • The Scapegoat: Matt is responsible for all technical faults, and even managed to crash the bus while asleep at home during DBFH5. And several others during DBFH6.
  • 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 DB5 with a sheet of uncut foil rare Magic cards from Innistrad going for 10,000 dollars (bought by Notch).
    • Notch returned in DB7 by bidding $10,000 again... for a packet of silica gel. (And a scarf, which everyone insisted was just to keep the silica gel safe.)
    • DB9 was the first year in which every single live auction topped $1,000.
  • Sequel Hook: Desert Bus 6 ended with Graham stating "Desert Bus will return with Desert Bus 007: [Subtitle to be determined]"
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: In a room full of people wearing t-shirts and jeans who possibly hadn't changed their clothes since the day before it was rather noticeable when Cameron Lauder would repeatedly show up in at least a button-down and slacks during Desert Bus 5.
    • Reached its logical conclusion in Desert Bus 6 with everyone dressed their dapperest during Cam's shift and a lengthy segment given by him on men's fashion.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: mumblemumblemumblemumble AAAAAAAAAAAAFRICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
  • The Stinger: Several Desert Buses For Hope (Deserts Bus For Hope?) have had a brief bit after the official end of the stream, providing a final gag or a Sequel Hook or both. The DB10 one - in which James's "lickability" Running Gag was finally made complete - was actually uploaded to Youtube under the title of "Stinger", which has since seemed to become the standard procedure.
  • 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.
    • Alex was challenged to herp a derp, he complied. When asked to derp a herp, he replied that he'd need a lot of plastic tubing. Said tubing was immediately produced.
    • In Desert Bus 6, Cam put down a challenge to the chat: if the donation total hit $100,000 during his driving shift, he would eat a spoonful of mayonnaise, the food he hates most in the world. Two custom N7 leather jackets were being auctioned for over $14,000 total. By 5 PM Moonbase time, Cam was eating mayo.
  • To the Pain: Donating with one hour left on the clock, which happened during Desert Bus 5 so that the team had to bus for a whole extra hour, giving them time to wrap things up.
    • In more recent runs, the team's opted to limit this, because they need the final hour for thank-yous, and in DB 2017 the clock was locked with one hour to go as a result (not that the chat was anywhere near getting another hour anyway).
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Alex prefaced his speech at the end of Desert Bus 10 (the one linked to under Manly Tears, above) by saying he was "not much of a wordsmith." The rest of the room calls him out on this after the speech. He says it's a result of Imposter Syndrome.
  • Videogame 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" or "balls." (Graham in particular often says "What the balls?")