Meet the Worlds Part 2: Cultivating Playa Magic in SparkleVerse

Here we go again! August 22 to September 7, 2021, six teams of wildly creative technologists are building Virtual Worlds and inviting one and all to explore, co-create, and play in the digital dust. Welcome to the second in a series of conversations with the amazing humans who have dedicated their summer to building their World for the 2021 Virtual Burn. Learn about all the Worlds and get your tickets to the Virtual Burn here.

Introducing SparkleVerse!

Tell us about your World.

Sparkle Ed: SparkleVerse will be incredibly playful, a map you can wander around, camps you can enter, art cars you can climb into, bicycles you can ride, MOOP collection, costumes, and all manner of madness.

Above all, it’s about co-creation in the SparkleVerse and shared social experience. Our platform blends creativity, navigation, and video/audio spaces. It’s going to be an absolute jamboree of collaboration and creativity as we bring together a remarkable eruption of human consciousness, which we believe can capture the essence of Burning Man.

We’re open-source, too — so that means some people will create content, some people will create the fabric of experience.

Watch the full conversation!

Tell us more about what people can do in SparkleVerse. What kind of adventures can virtual Burners participate in?

Sparkle Thomas: This year we’re going to have all kinds of adventures co-created by our community for their friends and everyone to enjoy, with their full senses of humor and love.

Last year we had many magic moments. One of them was a Brazilian dance party with amazing Brazilian DJs and people dancing from all over the world. I saw this guy dancing like crazy in the airport, behind a counter, while working on a night shift for an airline in his full uniform. There was so much shared joy. Everyone was getting lost in the music. At that moment, I realized we were hosting an epic global party and the music was rocking the World.

This year we’re going to rock the World even more, in the best possible ways.

We will have people sharing things from their countries and cultures and homes, spanning continents and time zones. We will watch the sun go down as the sun comes up at the same time on the other side of the World, you know, like a constant sunset and sunrise. We’re going to have all kinds of workshops and guided meditations and art. We’re going to have people who will teach and share the kinds of things you only get to learn at Burning Man.

Most of all, we’re going to have people who are there for one another, who invite you into their space, who show you a little bit about the way they live, the way they give, their world, their friendships, and their community. You will get to roam around the Sparkle Rock City, like a wandering adventure through all these experiences co-created by the community. Think of SparkleVerse like a patchwork quilt of community creativity — adventures for your senses.

What are you bringing that’s new, different from last year? What can people look forward to that they didn’t experience last year?

Sparkle Sofi: We absolutely loved everyone who participated last year, so we are building upon our strengths and just taking it to the absolute next level. We are making it smoother, larger, more sparkly in order to make those spontaneous networks and interconnections happen, to make technology just fade into the background, and for you just to be connected with people all over the world.

We’re also going to be developing a technical co-creation, by opening up our platform to the open-source community. So if you want to see something super crazy, you can build it and then it could be a thing.

How do I get in? What software do I need? What hardware do I need?

Sparkle Sofi: You do need a laptop or desktop in order to access us. Obviously a good internet connection is pretty important. And having a webcam and microphone can help enhance your experience. The more you can interact and dive in, the more you can get out of it.

Sparkle Thomas: We also recommend some kind of headset and good headphones. And though not strictly needed, we encourage you to have disco lights and to decorate your home like you might your camp.

Sparkle Sofi: For those who really want to go for it, you can set up your tent in your kitchen. You can turn off your electricity… There are no limits to the levels you can reach to enhance your experience.

How do you bring your Burning Man thing, whatever it happens to be, into SparkleVerse?

Sparkle Nat: Burning Man is a participatory culture — that’s what we’re doing here in SparkleVerse. We welcome anyone who’s got anything they want to contribute — technology co-creators, content co-creators, silly people, serious people. Anyone who wants to be a cheerleader to help us spread the sparkly word. It’s very easy to sign up as a volunteer co-creator.

Sparkle Thomas: We’ve designed tools that make it extremely easy to create something.

If you have an experience that you wish to host for friends on Zoom, we can easily include that. If you have some kind of digital art, we can include that too. All the information’s on our website, and — in the near future — we’ll be opening up our co-creation tools so people can play on our platform in advance. That will allow them to understand what we have, host mini experiences, start with something simple and then hopefully create something extra silly or amazing.

Sparkle Ed: As Shakespeare says, “There’s a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.” And I think we have an opportunity collectively to lay down a kind of a marker in history, a glorious explosion of human creativity and prove the point, basically the counterintuitive point, that online partying, online festivals, online human connection can reach the upper echelons of magnificence.


Cover image by SparkleVerse, 2021

About the author: Kirsten Weisenburger

Kirsten Weisenburger (aka Kbot) began her Burning Man journey in 2004 when she touched down in Black Rock City with a handful of disoriented Canadians. Since that early misadventure, she has shared in the wondrous emergence of Montreal’s Regional Burning Man community. A Black Rock Ranger and occasional theme camp organizer, Kirsten spends her summers bounding between Regionals in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern US. Her biggest adventure yet involves joining the Burning Man Project Communications team, where she identifies storytelling opportunities and co-creates the global nonprofit’s communication strategies.

3 Comments on “Meet the Worlds Part 2: Cultivating Playa Magic in SparkleVerse

  • Burning Man Project Communications says:

    Reminder: Burning Man Project has a responsibility to maintain this space for the benefit of all participants, to ensure that comments serve to enhance the experience of our visitors, rather than cause harm. While spirited conversation is welcome, unruly and rude behavior is not. Posts that are harmful to others or run counter to the spirit of civil discourse may be removed.

    Please review our COMMENT POLICY here, then comment with care: https://journal.burningman.org/comment-policy/

    Report comment

  • Robert says:

    How can someone participate if they can’t afford a computer, or an Internet connection? What about people who don’t understand the Internet or computers?

    Report comment

    • kbot says:

      Some of the worlds are incredibly easy to navigate and can be accessed via a mobile phone. In particular, I’d recommend Build-A-Burn, which can be accessed over lower bandwidth wifi. Based on user feedback last year, even those with little or no experience using the internet were able to move about and interact with other participants on Build-A-Burn.

      Report comment

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.