UPDATED! Burning Man Returns As a Virtual Event on Various Platforms from August 22nd to September 7th, 2021

Black Rock City at Burning Man 2016 by Kate Shay on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sadly, this year’s real-life Burning Man festival has, once again, been cancelled due to the continuing global coronavirus pandemic. Instead, events are happening on various virtual world platforms, as follows:

  • BRCvr (in AltspaceVR for VR and desktop users) returns from last year to capture the spirit, culture, and principles of Burning Man in VR. Join thousands of participants, visit over 200 camps and art pieces. Engage with 1000+ events in a cutting-edge space cultivating conversation, connection, and community.
  • Build-a-Burn (on Topia) is a network of browser-based virtual worlds with spatial video chat. Freely explore the camp metaverse for moments of sponteneity and serendipity. It’s easy to create a camp, add art, and customize everything. Anyone can easily create a unique experience to delight fellow Burners.
  • Dusty Multiverse is accessed on mobile phones and VR headsets. Burners enter as 3D avatars and can explore the environment, art, and performances and talk to others via live voice chat.
  • The Infinite Playa is a photo-realistic digital simulation of the Playa that puts you at the center of an interactive & social world of art, music, games, talks & performances.
  • SparkleVerse is a magical online city. Our digital playa is a 2D browser-based map with social features where you can wander through art, music, and experiences co-created by participants.
  • Burn Week: Global Live Stream (on PORTL) is a global streaming event featuring daily regional broadcasts, the Man Burn, and  the Temple Burn all in an interactive environment where you can broadcast yourself, join or create a camp, and start video watch parties with friends.

Tickets for all these events can be purchased here. Prices range from pay-what-you-can (for Build-a-Burn and Sparkleverse) up to US$88 for an unlimited pass for the Infinite Playa experience. TechCrunch reports:

There have been few illusions for attendees that a virtual event is any substitute for the real thing, but organizers have tried to get creative when it comes to the social web experiences so that attendees can reclaim some of the camaraderie. While the organization won’t be setting up an official presence, some camps have already committed to hosting an unofficial return to the desert…

Most of the creators behind last year’s experience are back this year, including a few VR-centric experiences and a handful of livestreaming and Zoom-based apps designed to spice things up a bit. This year’s apps include the VR-based BRCvr, interactive chat platform Build-a-Burn, 3D world Dusty Universe, “photo-realistic” simulation The Infinite Playa, video chat Sparkleverse and livestream platform Burn Week.

This year, the apps have a reserve ticketing system set up for “early bird tickets” and they are all charging different prices based on the experience type. The most aggressive pitch is from Infinite Playa, which is offering tickets ranging from a $16 two-hour pass to an $88 unlimited pass. Others are adopting donation-based pricing tiers, while the Burn Week livestream is offering a free stream to all viewers alongside a $29 “extended experience.”

See you there!

UPDATE May 14th, 2021: I forgot to mention what is probably the longest-running of the virtual extensions of Burning Man, BURN2, which happens in Second Life! Although their major celebration usually happens at a different time of year from the real-life festivities, there should be some events happening during the Burning Man festival, so be sure to check it out. Just search for “BURN2” under Places in your SL viewer. (Thanks to Spiffy Voxel for the reminder!)

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