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For the Children.

Well, as much as I hate to admit it (and I REALLY hate to admit it until Thanksgiving is over), the holiday season is coming around.

Regardless of whether you love or hate the Christmas season for all its commercialism and rampant consumerism, you really can't argue with the more wholesome aspects. Well, I guess you can, but its hard to hate the alms giving, drastic increase in charitable donations of food and clothing, and general upswing in philanthropy without coming of as Scrooge's even more douche-y cousin.

  Not all charities require standing out in the cold or buying canned food, however. Anyone who knows the internet is probably at least aware of the the webcomic Penny Arcade. If not, I am disappoint.
And so is this turtle. You monster.

One of the many programs Penny Arcade runs outside of their comic strip is the annual “Child's Play” charity drive. Participants in the drive take donations of either money or games and toys to be donated to children's hospitals all over the country. There are several organizations outside of Penny Arcade that participate in the event, including hilarious internet sketch comedians, and major influence of this site, Loading Ready Run. If you don't know who they are, I am again disappoint.
 But you can make up for this disappointment by tuning in for what is easily the greatest charity event and video game marathon on the internet, “Desert Bus for Hope.” The premise of the drive is fairly simple: the group plays the game Desert Bus on the Penn and Teller: Smoke and Mirrors game for the Sega-CD for literally days. So many of you may be asking, “wait, what is this Desert Bus game, and why does it warrant a gaming marathon?” First off, stop talking to your screen, I haven't worked out how to hear you just yet. Second, Desert Bus is a game in which you play as the driver of an empty bus making its way from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, in real time. This means 8 hours of non-stop gameplay. There is no pause, there is no saving, there are no continues. The road is completely straight, and completely deserted save for your bus. Also, and this is real kick in the teeth, the bus veers slightly to the right, so you can't just leave the console on for eight hours and win. You have to keep tapping the d-pad to keep from going off the road. What happens if you go off the road? You crash, and you are towed back to Tuscon, in real time. If you make it, you get one point, and the option of driving back. As you can probably imagine, this game would drive a lesser mortal insane in roughly two hours, but the people at Loading Ready Run have broken records playing the game, with drivers playing for 24 hours straight. For the children. Of course, watching this sounds almost as boring as playing it. One of the things people should really be tuning in for are the guest celebrities, which in the past have included Zero Punctuation's “Yahtzee”, nerd-idol Wil Wheaton (no, not the evil one) and even Penn and Teller themselves. During that time, viewers of their live stream can make donations, either for challenges (as in, “I will donate $25 to see X person sing X song) or in the prize auctions. I'm not going to lie to you, Loading Ready Run manages to get some really amazing prizes for this drive, including hand-made video game paraphernalia, limited edition or even one of a kind merchandise from major game studios, and more awesome collectible geek stuff than I could shake four dozen fists at. Beyond guest appearances and cool stuff, the general silliness of getting a room full of comedians for days on end, and the highly interactive viewer chat-log make the live stream of the event more than worthy of at least running in the background of your PC. You know, that and the fact that it's for a good cause. Desert Bus for Hope 6 starts tomorrow, so do me a favor, check out Desert Bus at