Burning Man 2020 raises the bar for virtual festivals and events

By: Moe Angelo

Burning Man 2020 is still happening. Right now. In Black Rock City. Only it’s a lot less dustier this year, as it is a 100% virtual event complete with a vast, adventurous burner world built to scale.

BCRvr, as it is being called, is a collaborative world built using video game development software like Unity, for deployment within the AltspaceVR framework. Altspace is a completely free game that is available for Oculus, Windows, and PC, and the BCRvr 2020 portal is on the front page of Featured Worlds from the main menu.

Once inside, you are able to walk, fly, or teleport your way around The Infinite Playa, in an expansive, yet dust-free open-world environment. Don your virtual combat boots and steampunk goggles (use your imagine when slipping on the VR headset), and explore a multitude of digitally-recreated Burning Man effigies and art installations, from both the present, and the past.

Burning Man 2020 - Infinite Playa - BRCvr
It is called the Infinite Playa because once inside the massive virtual festival grounds, many theme camps and art installations have their own navigable worlds that load separately from the main Playa world. In turn, it causes this virtual playground to nearly become impossible to explore in its entirety.

Many world-renowned artists, including Android Jones and his Microdose VR team, and Meow Wolf, for example, have created 3D, digital versions of their art installations to make up the Infinite Playa’s landscape. Musicians and DJs from all over the world are gracing the virtual stages of BRCvr this weekend, and most of the live performance schedules are available online.
Meow Wolf's virtual version of their "Becoming Human" installation

The recent exponential growth and development of virtual music festivals and live streamed events, could arguably be one of the most rapid technological advancements of all time. Sparked by a global pandemic and worldwide quarantines, the virtual event industry has exploded, much in part due to lowered cost of, and ease of access to, equipment that would previously be out-of-budget for most aspiring producers.

Str34m launched with potentially one of the first live stream-only, virtual music festivals – called Campsite – in April of this year. Since then, there have been multiple virtual versions of major music festivals that have started to incorporate the use of these virtual worlds as a gathering space for their would-have-been attendees. It is mind-blowing to think about such rapid growth and advancement, on such a large scale, and how both musicians and artists have adapted to it, or not.

EvolVR in BRCvr
I encourage you to dig in to as much of this unique experience as you can this weekend. Even if you do not own a Virtual Reality system, it is worth getting the desktop app to experience this new evolution of the event industry. Watch my twenty-minute live stream from BRCvr below, and keep an eye on the str34m Facebook Page for more live coverage this weekend.

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