Global Music Festivals Event at the LOVEHOTEL in AltspaceVR, 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday, June 13th, 2021

If you’re in the mood for music, you’re in luck! There’s an event taking place tomorrow, Sunday, June 13th, at 10:00 a.m. PST/1:00 p.m. EST/5:00 GMT in the social VR platform AltspaceVR, run by the Global Music Festivals (which had previously held events in Sansar).

Here’s the full text of the event from the AltspaceVR Events Calendar:

AN INNOVATIVE SHOW-PARTY WITH DJ’S AND FLYING CAM-DRONES. A LIVE VIDEO-ART IN WHICH YOU ARE THE SUPERSTAR!

Welcome to Global Music Festivals newest event in AltspaceVR. With Mad Paddy & DJ Celeste A music fest filmed by a professional camera crew.

Our party will take place in a surprising version of the famous LOVEHOTEL, created in a collaboration by SHUSHU & MATOcolori – with two dance floors, secret romantic rooms, online cameras with large video screens – you will feel like [you are] in a live video-clip!

Global Music Festivals runs an international festival within VR and IRL featuring DJ’s, with dedicated producer and camera crew in VR. Our best DJ’s will be playing EDM, TRANCE, GOA, TECHNO, PSY, HOUSE, NU JAZZ.

DJ Mad Paddy has been in the music industry since he was 11 and performed at many festivals, also a qualified sound engineer and light specialist. With his love for music and technology it brought him into the world of VR where he has performed for many VR events. 

DJ Celeste’s unshakable love for music and performance has led her to spend nearly two decades of disciplined study and practice to the art and science of music production, DJing and sound engineering in her continuing quest to be able to take her listeners on an irresistibly exciting and inspirational, next level …She is also one of the new generation DJ’s to be at the forefront of Virtual Djing.

Join the event in AltspaceVR, or watch the event live at:
https://twitter.com/festivalsglobal?s=11
https://www.twitch.tv/globalmusicfestivals

According to the producer of the event, Carlos Austin:

We have the two DJ’s and, four camera men in world there plus of course the public. Beautiful world created by Shushu and Marcello.. will be streamed to Global Music Festival twitch channel. Would you write a small post on your blog about it. We will start with AltspaceVR, then tour to other metaverses this coming year.

See you there!

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!)

To Teleport or Not to Teleport: Teleporting Versus Walking in the Metaverse

Ever wish you could teleport in real life?
(Photo by Chris Briggs on Unsplash)

Earlier this week, I had a guided tour of the blockchain-based social VR platform Somnium Space, where I was informed by my tour guide that the virtual world had just implemented teleporting. Scattered throughout the one large, contiguous virtual landscape which comprises Somnium Space were teleporter hubs, where you could pull up a map, click on the teleporter hub you wanted to travel to, press a button, et voilà! You were instantly transported to your destination.

A teleporter hub in the central city square of Somnium Space (at night)
The red arrows indicate the location of teleporter hubs on the map

What makes Somnium Space unusual among metaverse platforms is that you cannot simply teleport from one place to another distant location; you either must make use of the provided teleporters, or walk/run/fly/swim to your destination. (Of course, you can certainly “short hop” using a limited form of teleporting, but that is only for shorter distances, not for instantly getting from one end of a large, contiguous landmass to another.)

In other words, the teleporter hubs of the Somnium Transportation System are set up much like a modern urban subway system, where you can only travel to a particular, pre-built subway station that is situated the nearest to your intended destination, and then walk the rest of the way. Many people might remember that in the very earliest days of Second Life, there were also teleporter hubs in the days before avatars could instantly teleport themselves from one location to another!

Another thing that sets Somnium Space apart from other social VR platforms is that there are only going to be so many “public” teleporter hubs. In face, some of these hubs are going to be auctioned off as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), and the successful bidders with such a teleporter hub on their properties will be able to charge a cryptocurrency fee in order to use their teleporters! (In other words, they would operate much the same as a real-life toll road or highway.)

Closely intertwined with the idea of teleporting vs. walking is the layout of a metaverse platform. Is it one large contiguous landmass, like Somnium Space, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, and (to a certain extent) Second Life? Or is it a collection of smaller worlds, like VRChat, Rec Room, Sansar, and Sinespace? If it is the former, then means of transportation (and ease of access to transportation) becomes more important. If it is the latter, then another tool which many of the newer social VR platforms offer is the ability to create a portal—either temporary or permanent— between two worlds. (Of course, you could consider a teleporter hub a portal.)

So, keeping all this in mind (particularly the distinction between SHORT HOP teleporting and teleporting to a DISTANT location), we can create a chart outlining the transportation affordances of the various metaverse platforms:

Name of Platform (Layout)Walk/Run? *Distance
Teleport?
**
Create Portals?
Second Life (mostly one contiguous landmass, with private islands)YESYESYES
Sinespace (separate worlds)YESNOYES
Sansar (separate worlds)YESNO (but you can create teleport hubs)YES
VRChat (separate worlds)YESNOYES
Rec Room (separate worlds)YESNOYES
AltspaceVR (separate worlds)YESNOYES
NeosVR (separate worlds)YESNOYES
Cryptovoxels (one contiguous landmass with some islands) YESNO (you can add coordinates to a URL, though)YES
Decentraland (one contiguous landmass) YESYES (/goto X,Y)NO
Somnium Space (one contiguous landmass)YESNO (but there are teleport hubs)NO (unless you count teleport hubs)
* – Can a user walk/run/fly/swim from one location to another? This includes SHORT HOP teleporting.
** – Can a user personally choose to teleport from one location to a second, DISTANT location?
† – Can a user create a temporary or permanent portal from one location to another?

Obviously, all metaverse platforms offer some form of personal locomotion for your avatar (walk, run, fly, swim, short-hop teleporting, etc.). This is standard.

It is also clear from this table that the metaverse platforms which consist of many smaller worlds (Sinespace, Sansar, VRChat, Rec Room, AltspaceVR, and NeosVR) all prefer the creation of temporary and permanent portals to allowing users to teleport great distances on their own steam. On the other hand, all the social VR platforms and virtual worlds which consist of one contiguous landmass tend to allow some form of teleportation across great distances.

You will notice that Cryptovoxels uses a rather brute-force method of “teleporting”, which consists of appending the coordinates to the end of the URL you enter into your web browser client (which are much the same as the coordinates which form part of the SLURLs used in Second Life, but not nearly as convenient in my opinion).

Transportation affordances are yet another way to classify metaverse platforms in my continuing effort to create a taxonomy of social VR platforms and virtual worlds.

So, what do you think? Have I made an error in my table? Do you have an opinion about the benefits of teleporting and portals versus walking around and exploring the landscape? I’d love to hear your opinions, so please leave a comment, thank you!

UPDATED! Drug Culture in Social VR and Virtual Worlds: Some Explorations on 4/20 of Its Expression and Representation in the Metaverse

Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

I have a confession to make: I have never smoked marijuana. (And no, I haven’t been tempted since my country, Canada, legalized cannabis three years ago.) When it comes to drugs, I am an utter square, a clueless noob, a babe in the woods. Instead of associating with the druggies in high school, I hung out with the kids you used to hang out in the library (which might explain why I became a librarian, come to think of it).

In fact (aside from my prescription medications (which I take for a list of ailments that only seems to grow longer the older I get), the only recreational drugs I have ever (ab)used are caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco (and the latter consisted of a mere handful of cigarettes smoked during my gay bar days, in a failed effort to look cool).

So I am probably the least likely person to write up a blogpost examining drug culture in social VR and virtual worlds. However, since I am (at least, by my own account) somewhat of an expert on social VR and virtual worlds, I thought it would be interesting to explore and examine those places in the metaverse which celebrate getting high. Why not?

So fasten your seatbelts, and let’s take off! 😉

Second Life

A natural starting point for our explorations is the venerable virtual world of Second Life, where there are no shortage of places featuring drugs (and which, no doubt, people have visited while high).

A quick search on “420” under Places in the Search menu pulled up Commune Utopia, a bohemian, hippie commune since 2011. There were only a few people hanging around, dancing to the music and just chilling out:

Commune Utopia in Second Life

A similar, laid-back vibe pervades the Free Spirit Farms hippie and bohemian community, The notecard you receive upon arrival states:

The idea behind Free Spirit Farms, is to surround ourselves with like minded people who consider themselves, or are free spirited, bohemian, modern day hippies.

Cool, man. However, it would appear that there were only a grand total of three avatars on the entire sim—hardly a Woodstock in the making!

All alone at the spawn point of Free Spirit Farms

One nice thing about Free Spirit Farms is that (if you join the Free Spirit Farms group for free), you can set this place to be your home location in Second Life, unpack boxes, etc.

A keyword search on “drugs” under Places threw up the usual inner-city crime roleplay sims, plus the aptly named Little Brown Mushroom, an absolutely deserted nightclub with a trippy 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s music list and a suitably druggy theme.

A Very Strange Tip Acid Experience Amusement Park was likewise deserted. If there were avatars celebrating 4/20 in Second Life, I completely failed to find them!

So I turned to what I considered my most likely spot to find drug culture in the metaverse:

VRChat

Once again doing keyword searches on “420” and “trip” under the Places menu brought up a few interesting worlds. “Drug” and “drugs” pulled up absolutely zero worlds (which led me to think that perhaps VRChat was censoring the terms). However, a search for “420” pulled up the promising-sounding “420 Forest”.

The 420 forest was nice enough, a winding path through a coniferous forest, lit by green fireflies, leading to a cozy central campfire, but like the places I investigated in SL, it too was absolutely and utterly deserted:

The 420 Forest World was deserted

I did find the Create a Trip world, one of many wonderful worlds created by TheArchitect. Create a Trip was certainly trippy in a kaleidoscopesque sort of way (but you’ll need to bring your own music, and your own drugs for that matter):

I was seriously striking out here, people. It occurred to me that perhaps, square that I am, I simply did not know the right people who could direct me to the right places? It also occurred to me that, on this high holiday of April 20th (see what I did there?), perhaps most aficionados of drug culture would be toking out in real life, instead of messing around in the metaverse?!??

Undaunted, I determined to persevere, and I moved on to… where? Where could I go next? I certainly wasn’t going to find any drug culture in Rec Room. AltspaceVR? Sansar? It would be next to impossible to find a 420 world in Sansar, even if one existed. So I decided to put my Valve Index headset back on my noggin, and headed into AltspaceVR. Perhaps the home of the BRCvr virtual Burning Man festival might provide some 420 content?

AltspaceVR

Success! SUCCESS!!! I finally encountered a group of 420 people in the BRCvr world, just in the final moments before they were shutting down for the day, and indeed shutting down the virtual playa in BRCvr completely, in order to build the next virtual Burning Man world for 2021! Here are a few snapshots I took using the in-world camera:

So, as you can see, there were indeed some people celebrating 420 in social VR!

What 420/drug culture worlds have you experienced in social VR and virtual worlds? I’m quite sure I missed more than a few worlds that were designed to feel like a trip, but as I said up top, I am not an expert. Anybody have any drug-themed metaverse locations for me to explore? Feel free to leave a comment below, thanks!

Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

UPDATE 9:07 p.m.: Well, this evening I discovered that WOMBO had uploaded a whole whack of new song clips, just to mark 4/20, so I plugged a selfie of my main male Second Life avatar, Heath Homewood, into the app, and, well…I got to see what Heath would look like, stoned! (More info on WOMBO here.)

I am way, waaay too easily amused, folks.

UPDATE April 21st, 2021: I have been informed that NeosVR does have some drug-related content:

Ahh, I see you didn’t find our drug simulators. Neos has various types of object which simulate intoxicants. There’s also a shisha setup and a vape inside Neos Essentials.

And then I had to Google “shisha” to find out what that referred to (seriously, I didn’t know; it’s another word for a hookah). Apparently, NeosVR also has a series of colourblind vapes, which I assume would simulate various forms of colour blindness. Interesting!