The digital gates to Virtual Burn 2021 have opened and for the second year in a row, the annual Burning Man event has returned to a pixel-populated playa, full of mind-bending art and provocative performances.
Many of my fellow Burners have chosen to return to the physical desert this week (stay safe and respect the land!), as that is certainly where all of our hearts are. Yet I am here to wax on about the amazing selfless community that has come together again to create the official virtual experience that can be enjoyed in VR, on your computer, or even on your phone. And it’s only at the Virtual Burn where you’ll have a front-row seat to the Man Burn and Temple Burn and all the ridiculously delightful events leading up to them this final weekend!
Now I have no right to claim OG status in VR, but I’ve been part of this immersive renaissance since 2015 and last year I was a Burner who was burned out. I had played more than my fair share of 6DOF games, woven my way through every festival interactive narrative, and even built a VR platform or two myself, but yet I was wishing on a sparkling polygon for that something to keep me from retreating back into, gulp, my previous life in Hollywood. I know, anything but that!
Who would have thought that creating a Greek muse inspired avatar with teal raccoon-ombre hair sporting a cowboy hat and boots inside a social VR world was that something?
The avatar creation part comes naturally to Burners, as we can be known for our distinct fashion sense. Yet the technology part can be intimidating for many. We keep hearing about how Silicon Valley has infiltrated Burning Man as of late. But trust me, Burners call tech support just as often as my parents do. So last year when I witnessed droves of Burners dive fearlessly into getting Quests just to achieve a sense of community, I knew my retirement from VR would be delayed.
This year is no different. That enthusiasm for community survives tenfold and is now mixed with an exponential outpouring of participation for this year’s event.
Burning Man culture revolves around the 10 Principles, guiding tenets that keep our community celebrating creativity, encouraging self-expression, embracing cultural differences, engaging in civic acts, committed to the environment, and more. One of the guiding principles, ‘Radical Inclusion,’ means we don’t disenfranchise anyone who wants to be part of the Burning Man community. So when multiple teams stepped up to create their virtual expression of Burning Man, the organizers couldn’t say no. Those teams in turn reached out to hundreds of thousands globally to participate.
There are multiple officially licensed worlds for Virtual Burn 2021. I encourage you to visit as many as you can this weekend via your PC, Mac, or mobile device. So far this week, I’ve been joining thousands of my new friends for a daily meditative workout with Camp Kaaiiaa in SparkleVerse, going on the Moop Express scavenger hunt in Build-A-Burn, hoverboarding in the Dusty Multiverse, and made a very personal offering at the 2021 Virtual Temple.
Here’s the quick rundown of all the official Virtual Burn platforms and the Virtual Burn 2021 World Access Guide for more detail. Also you can visit the searchable Virtual Burn Events Guide for everything going right now and this weekend!
Now for those of you with a VR headset within reach, I’m going to highlight some can’t-miss events inside of BRCvr I’ll be at this weekend. You can absolutely enjoy these via your PC and Mac too, but when in Rome on the Oculus Blog pardon the over-indexing on in-headset references! So once you’ve downloaded Altspace, you’re ready to be a social VR butterfly and find me (username PyriteJenna aka Maven) portaling around. I’d be happy to give a tour and explain any and all about Virtual Burn 2021!
There are nearly 150 destinations within BRCvr alone with more than 3,000 hours of programming, so this is a small sample of where I might be. From amazing art installations to talks to DJs to soundbaths, BRCvr is just one of the Virtual Burn platforms where you can find such welcoming and engaging events among a group of people who are the future of the ‘metaverse’ no matter how you define it. See you in the digital dust! Happy Burn!