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.
Dive into BRCvr!
Tell us about your World.
Drew: BRCvr is an award-winning, official virtual Burning Man experience created by veteran Burners. We are a Radically Inclusive community where cultural, ethnic, sexual, and gender identities are celebrated and shared. From August 29 – September 7, 2021, we will be home to a global Burning Man community, hundreds of worlds and art installations, performances, and hundreds of hours of events that foster conversation, Radical Self-expression, and connection.
We’re excited to share that BRCvr will be FREE for all who want to participate. In recent weeks, we’ve decided to be Radically Inclusive, removing the financial barrier to entry by gifting our Virtual Burn 2021 experience to the world.
Athena: We’re a digital twin of Black Rock City. But we are much more than that. We have now become quite the community of makers and doers and performers. We’re year round, but we have our main BRCvr experience happening during Burn Week. We would love to have you participate with us. We are on the Altspace platform, and you could just set up your account with a PC, a Mac, or of course your VR headset.
Watch some of our conversation with Athena and Doug in BRCvr’s Philosophical Center:
Tell us more about what people can do in BRCvr. What kind of adventures can virtual Burners participate in?
Athena: You can get together with your friends and hang out and go on adventures. That is the most fun. There are a lot of things you can do that are fun. Flying is a blast — being able to fly through the playa and through the art is so much fun. And ending up with your friends, socializing, making new friends and going on adventures, going world hopping — the same as you would hop from theme camp to theme camp.
Doug: Last year we had 1,500 hours of programming for Burn Week. This year we hope to expand on that. That includes your favorite DJs spinning sets, talks and meditations, and meet the artists, so we can have people telling us about how they created some art projects. And of course there are various Burning Man-style museum pieces. We’ll have some of the creators going through and explaining the history of Burning Man.
Athena: It’s whatever the community wants to bring. And that’s really the magic of it. If somebody has a poetry reading they want to do, or a jazz ensemble, or yoga, or a meditation, or a talk… something along those lines. And then of course we have DJs and live music and whatever you can imagine creating — there can be an event for that, and there’s a space for that, and there’s a venue for that.
What are you bringing that’s new or different from last year? What can people look forward to that they didn’t experience last year?
Doug: One of the things I’m personally working on and über excited about: we want to create these really nice intricate playa scenes. It’s a really high-res render where you’re out at the trash fence, and you’re seeing Mayan Warrior playing, and all the art cars around, and there’s art around, and flame effects. So it’s like a scene that’s going on at Burning Man, or an Esplanade scene with all the cars going by, creating more hubs of activity that people can go to. We’re going to create hub worlds where a lot of activity is going to be going on.
This year, you’re also going to see a lot more holographic situations where you’re going to see the person performing live as a person in an event in addition to avatars being in events. So that crossover, you’re going to see a lot more of that.
How do I get in? What software do I need? What hardware do I need?
Doug: We spend a lot of time talking about VR, but most of our people actually come in 2D on their Mac or PC. So you don’t need a VR headset to join in the fun.
You just download Altspace, create an account, and jump in. We’re going to have a lot of orientations and calls, answering people’s questions and tours of our lands and things like that. So we’re going to give people a lot of opportunities to ask us questions and onboarding on how to come in… teach them how to fly and things like that.
Athena: Right now is the perfect time to learn about BRCvr. If you go to our website (BRCvr.org) and go to How to Play in the Digital Dust, that has step-by-step instructions on how to get on the Altspace platform, how to set up your account, secure your virtual Burner name and learn the functionality of the platform. Don’t wait until the end of August, because you’re going to want to learn all the functionality and how to play. Plus, we have events going on all the time. You can participate now. You can be part of the community now.
For example, every Wednesday at 5:30pm PDT we host an AMA. Want to know how to submit a project? share your art? create a World? volunteer? offer your modeling skills? perform? attend Virtual Burn Week? learn about BRCvr? and what is Burning Man? Ask me anything!
Join the weekly AMA here
Meeting ID: 897 2320 6805
How do you bring your Burning Man thing, whatever it happens to be, into BRCvr?
Athena: We’re looking for people to jump in. We’re looking for people to get involved. If you want to participate in BRCvr, the best way is to visit our participate page and fill out a form. If you want to bring your art and build a world, then click on that. If you want to volunteer as a 3D modeler and help somebody else bring in their art, if you want to become a greeter, if you want to volunteer with the team, maybe build social media content or something like that, then you fill out the other form and we will get you plugged in.
What about bringing your art?
Athena: Last year it was about bringing art that existed or was going to exist as physical art. And then once artists got in, they were like: “Oh, wait a minute. I can build whatever I want. There’s no gravity restriction.” We don’t have physics to deal with. You’re not actually going to have gale-force winds blowing you over, so you can really build whatever you want. We jokingly say, if you can hallucinate it, you can create it. And that is absolutely true. You can go really wild with whatever you want to create. We empower you to build your own art. We have tools and educational materials to help you learn what you need to learn in order to bring your art into the digital plane.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Burning Man Project: There’s been a whole community all this year, parties every weekend or every Friday night. A whole hub of people that have gathered and have made BRCvr their home away from the desert.
Athena: We’ve had people from all over the world. It is amazing, the people we’ve met. So many people have said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go to Burning Man, but I can’t go…” Because they live too far away, they can’t get a visa, they have school…
Doug: We realized that people want to be part of the community all year round. So now we have a whole bunch of friends we’ve been working with for a year, who we’ve never met. And they’re as real a friend as somebody I see in person. I really see that need for a communal space, and how social VR can help create that space.
Cover image courtesy of BRCvr, 2014 (Graphic design by Deets Shay)