Avatar Cosplay Contest at High Fidelity: You Could Win Up to US$10,000 or an All-Expenses-Paid Trip to Silicon Valley Comic Con!

Wow. High Fidelity is really throwing the money around to promote their social VR platform! They have announced an Avatar Cosplay Contest, with some seriously impressive cash prizes:

On Saturday, March 16th, between 10 am – 2 pm PDT, we will be holding an ‘Avatar Cosplay Contest’ at Multi-Con VR. The theme for this contest is Characters in Anime + Animation.

Create your favourite characters from animated TV and movies for the 3D metaverse. Then wear them up the runway! The winner will be selected by the community.

Enter your avatar inspired by characters from Anime + Animation for a chance to win huge cash prizes. Get inspired by your favourites — No-Face, a classic princess, or even Big Chungus. Cosplay is encouraged and rewarded! The winner is voted by attendees.

1st Place US$10,000*
2nd Place US$5,000*
3rd Place US$1,000*
Every Avatar in the Contest US$300*

There will be a Grand Prize Winner after all 3 Multi-Con Cosplay Contests that will win an all-expenses-paid trip for 2 to San Francisco to attend Silicon Valley Comic Con!

Rules:
– Entries must be inspired by a character from animation
– All work must be original or ‘fair use’ of other works, including parody
– Entries must not violate other’s intellectual property
– Users cannot have web or text entities as part of their costumes
– Avatar’s longest dimension should not exceed 2 meters
– Users cannot use particles as part of their outfit

Contestants are encouraged but not required to use our flow script technology which gives clothes, hair and other attachments movement. Avatars can be humanoid or non-humanoid. Avatars can be photo-real or stylized.

* all cash prizes paid in High Fidelity Coin (HFC)

I have confirmed with High Fidelity staff that these prizes are in US dollars, paid in High Fidelity Coin (HFC; the exchange rate is fixed at 100 HFC = US$1.00). The HFC can be exchanged into US dollars through the Bank of High Fidelity.

These are extraordinarily generous prizes, especially the awarding of US$300 in HFC to anybody who is selected to participate in the contest! (Yes, that was confirmed, too.)

Note that this is only the first of three Multi-Con VR events hosted by High Fidelity. The other two are Fantasy + Sci-Fi Universes (to be held on April 27th) and Comic Book Universes (to be held on June 8th).

Here is the contest application form for the event on March 16th. Good luck!

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Was Marshmello’s Fortnite Concert Really History Making? Yes and No.

You probably heard about DJ Marshmello‘s ten-minute concert held in the massively popular game Fortnite on Feb. 2nd. (I’ve never heard of Marshmello before this, but then again, he’s probably never heard of me either, so we’re even.)

The official YouTube video of the concert has racked up almost 20 million views as of this evening:

Here’s another YouTube video posted by a Fortnite user, which gives a somewhat different view of the proceedings, and which is probably a lot closer to what Fortnite players actually experienced in-game:

Now, there are a lot of media outlets calling this “history making“, with estimates of a total audience of over 10 million people watching. And no doubt, for the many (mostly younger) people for whom this was their first virtual concert experience, it may have seemed ground-breaking.

But as you can see from the videos I posted above, that audience of 10 million people was split up into innumerable separate instances across which the concert was broadcast simultaneously. This is hardly ground-breaking technology, and it can be said that doing this in a game world (which is heavily constrained in many ways compared to a true, open-ended virtual world like Second Life) is not really that innovative. Although I’m pretty certain that the staff maintaining the Fortnite servers was kept pretty busy!

The SingularityHub website reported:

Depending how you define it, one might argue this concert claimed a spot in the top 20 largest human gatherings ever. I wouldn’t go that far yet. But it does hint at how immersive digital gatherings might rival and surpass in-person gatherings in the future. Such digital events might regularly reach into the millions and still provide that special, real-world sense of “I was there.”

To be clear, Fortnite isn’t technically an online virtual world in the same vein as something like Second Life or High Fidelity. Fortnite is still, on the surface, a game. But several people have pointed out that it’s starting to serve the same kind of social purpose that hangout spaces like friends’ basements, skateparks, and arcades once provided teens and young adults.

WIRED, which called the concert “the future of the metaverse”, said:

People have gathered in virtual worlds for decades. People have attended virtual concerts for years. Yet the Fortnite event represented something different by many orders of magnitude. By one (unsubstantiated) estimate, 10 million concurrent users attended the show in the game’s “Showtime” mode. In other words, this was something much more than a concert. It was a peek, albeit a short one, at what an AR- and VR-suffused future looks like: connected congregations of embodied avatars, in mass-scale events that still manage to feel personal.

Social VR application Altspace has been holding live events in virtual reality since 2015; by now, the Microsoft-owned platform regularly hosts improv shows, podcast tapings, dance parties, and performances from the likes of Reggie Watts. But when its employees heard about the Fortnite concert, they saw it as a mass-scale validation. “I said, ‘This is it,'” says Katie Kelly, program owner at AltspaceVR. “It”s the biggest version of what we’ve been trying to do—in this game, with millions of people.

And the BBC weighed in with an instructive history lesson:

Plenty applauded what they called the “first-ever live performance in a video game”, but this claim has since been disproved on social media.

Minecraft hosted Coalchella festival in 2018 – a pun on real-life festival Coachella – though this came five years after EDM label Monstercat hosted a live charity festival in the block-building game.

Meanwhile, virtual gigs became almost synonymous with simulation game Second Life in the 00s.

U2 gave a live performance in 2008, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was broadcast live in 2007, and BBC Radio 1 simulcast its One Big Weekend event on a virtual stage in 2006.

And that’s not even mentioning the mash-up with Duran Duran, which saw the new wave act perform live gigs in the in-game Duran Duran Universe.

So, in sheer scale, yes, the Marshmello concert was epic (pun intended; Epic Games is the maker of Fortnite). And it points the way for similar massively-attended events in future (I’m quite sure some concert promoters are already having discussions with game developers).

But it’s not something new. As the BBC points out, virtual worlds such as Second Life have been home to live performances for well over a decade now. And High Fidelity has been regularly setting records for how many avatars it can pack into a single domain, which is actually much more technically impressive than splitting up a larger crowd into multiple instances. While at BINGO EXTREMO this evening, I noticed how I really felt as if I were part of a large crowd, with over 150 avatars gathered around the stage.

So we do need to keep all this in perspective. Impressive? Yes. History making? No.

Image taken from the BBC article about the concert

BINGO EXTREMO: Drag Queen Bingo in High Fidelity!

Well, this evening’s BINGO EXTREMO event at High Fidelity was well attended, with 150 avatars playing several successive games of Bingo for prizes of Oculus Rifts, HTC Vives, sums of HFC (High Fidelity’s in-world currency), or (twice) everybody present winning 100 HFC! In a surprise twist, our emcee was none other than London drag queen Lady Camden:

There were a few technical glitches (some people’s numbers wouldn’t rez on their Bingo cards, and the sometimes the board showing which numbers were called was too blurry to read), but overall, the event was a success.

High Fidelity seems to have truly mastered the ability to host events with a large number of avatars present. Congratulations to Philip Rosedale and his team for another successful Bingo night!

Metaverse Newscast Episode 2: My Interview with Noz’aj About Beyond, Winner of the Best Domain Contest at the FUTVRE LANDS Festival in High Fidelity

I’m pleased to announce that the second episode of Metaverse Newscast is now available on YouTube! It’s an interview with Noz’aj, the winner of the Best Domain Contest at the recent FUTVRE LANDS Festival in High Fidelity for his epic, monumental science fiction experience called Beyond. As I have said before on this blog, it is one of the best VR experiences I had last year.

The interview includes a tantalizing peek at only a few parts of Beyond. You are encouraged to visit the domain yourself and explore it in full. It is well worth your time!

If you missed episode one, it’s available on the Metaverse Newscast channel. I’d like to thank my hard-working producer and video editor Andrew William! We plan to release one episode per month. Coming up in February is an in-depth interview with the talented Sansar scripter Galen!

Bronze and higher-level supporters of my Patreon fund-raising campaign (starting at only US$1 a month) will get exclusive previews of all Metaverse Newscast videos before they are released to the general public on YouTube. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all my patrons for helping to support both this blog and the Metaverse Newscast show. And stay tuned for more patron benefits!