The World’s Most Boring (and Most Entertaining) Fundraiser November 16, 2009

Comedy Group is Gaming For The Greater Good

For the third year, a Victoria sketch comedy troupe is set to play the world’s most boring video game for as long as they’re paid to do so, and they’re doing it for the kids.

Staring at this for over 100 hours. For the kids.

Staring at this for over 100 hours. For the kids.

LoadingReadyRun, the Victoria-based geek comedy group starts their third annual Desert Bus for Hope campaign, a fundraiser for the Seattle-based Child’s Play Charity, this Friday. The charity, started by web-cartoonists Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik of the popular strip Penny Arcade, raises funds for children’s hospitals around the world, including nine in Canada. It donates over one million dollars yearly. Contributors can choose which hospital to contribute to, which include the B.C. Children’s Hospital, Victoria General Hospital and the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Funds collected will go towards general cash donations and video games for long term pediatric patients.

To raise the funds, LoadingReadyRun will play a game designed to be terrible. Desert Bus was intended to be a part of Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors for the Sega CD. The game was never released, but it received new life after being leaked on the internet. In Desert Bus, players drive a bus from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time. There are no enemies, obstacles or passengers. The alignment on the bus is slightly off, so players cannot simply tape down the accelerator as they may drive off the road in an entirely anti-climactic “crash”, resulting in their being towed back to their origin – in real time. The most exciting part of the trip occurs hours in when a bug splats on the window. Upon reaching their destination, a player receives one point, turns around, and heads back to the other way, an endless loop of boredom.

The game was designed to be a response to Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton, then Attorney General and First Lady and their demonization of explicit video games, a battle the future Senator Clinton would continue to the present day. Senator Clinton was instrumental in the media firestorm following the “Hot Coffee” scandal surrounding a pornographic rhythm game cut from the production version of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”, but uncovered by user modifications.

In his daily podcast, Penn Jillette discussed the reasoning behind the game in detail. “We were planning on giving a very lavish prize for the person that got the highest score[…]like a hundred points. So 800 hours of playing this. We were hoping that groups of people, like fraternities and stuff would play”.

The marathon is endorsed by both Penn and Teller, who both donated and contacted the team.

Last year, the group drove for 108 hours and raised $70,423 for Child’s Play. Driving in shifts and rallying morale with the oft-repeated slogan of “For The Children”, the group aims to beat that number this year.

The marathon will be broadcast live. According to LoadingReadyRun co-founder Paul Saunders, “The mixture of generosity and spite is a really powerful thing.” Aside from straight donations, last year’s event was buoyed by auctions through the live chatroom, requests for group karaoke over the live webcam, and even donation bribes in exchange for sending LoadingReadyRun member and Event Coordinator Matt Wiggins to multiple showings of “Twilight” against his will.

To view the telethon, donate money and for more information, visit It starts Friday, Nov. 20.

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A Beach House in Onett November 15, 2009

From LargePrimeNumbers

There’s this house in the town of Onett. You see signs all around town, sometimes near signs like the one that says “Use the library more.” The signs tell you there’s a house for sale on the southwest side of Onett. It has a beautiful view of the lake, it says. Just inquire with the local real-estate agent, and he’ll sell you the house. If you go down southwest and find the house, you’ll see the blue-suited real-estate agent standing in the doorway. Talk to him, and he’ll offer to sell you the place for just $10,000. At this early stage of the game, that’s a hell of a lot of money. It’s earnable, of course. It’s just going to take some time. You earn money by fighting monsters. Kind of. Whenever you kill a monster, your dad deposits money into your bank account for a completely unrelated reason. Your neighbor Pokey claims this is possible because your dad borrowed a lot of money from his parents, “Maybe like a hundred thousand dollars, or maybe more!” You never find out how much it was your dad borrowed. However, the monsters in Onett aren’t strong enough for you to earn $10,000 without losing half your mind. Even so, what do you need the house for? You have a house — your mother’s house — up on the north side of town. The player who thinks within the game’s world will never have to buy the house.

It’s the breed of player most commonly referred to as a “gamer” that will need to buy the house. This gamer will come all the way back to Onett once he has enough money to buy the house. You can’t buy the house during the game’s ending, when you’ll no doubt have more than $10,000 in the bank, because the real-estate agent is gone and the door is locked. You can’t buy it past a certain point in the game, either, because once the endgame begins, Onett is invaded by aliens and plunged into eternal darkness until you kill the alien. If you want to buy the house, you have to come back at some reasonably early point in the game. When you buy the house, the real-estate agent takes your money and leaves the doorway. He runs all the way off-screen. You are then free to enter the house. When you go inside, you find that it’s a run-down shack with wooden floors and walls. A few boards are missing. With the power of its pixels, the game shows you that the mattress in the middle of the floor has a few springs popping up out of its fabric. The back wall of the house — the third wall, as it were — is missing, and we can see the lake in the distance. The fourth wall is already gone — that’s the wall through which we, the player, see our heroes standing in this dilapidated shack. We’re looking at, essentially, a house with two walls. This can be construed as what Itoi thinks of the videogame as a medium — it is a house with two walls.


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