Virtual venues

Digital events and virtual socializing are maturing. Meticulously designed bespoke virtual spaces have replaced videoconferencing platforms.

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One loyal regular recreated Skehan’s, a London pub in England, Southwark, in VR. In a May 8 article, Tristan Cross explained his decision to Wired and detailed his process. The space in which this experience is taking place is an important part of the overall experience.

Other people seem to agree. BrewDog is one company that has reimagined the traditional bar experience to improve virtual engagement. BrewDog creates a virtual bar for each of its physical locations in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. This digital environment allows locals and regulars to connect.

Musicians are also touring on virtual stages. Travis Scott held a virtual Fortnite concert on April 23, 2020, where he premiered new music to the 28 million players who attended. Epic Games released “party royale” as a non-violent party mode in Fortnite after the success of the concert, which was the largest event in Fortnite history. Diplo, a DJ and producer, kicked off the launch on May 1 with a live event featuring Major Lazer.

Club Matryoshka is an exclusive virtual club that is located on a Minecraft private server. It hosted a virtual 24-hour music festival between April 26 and 27, 2020. The space was built in 2019 and features sound stages, dance floors, and DJ booths with unique views of skylines and landscapes. Infinite Summer was a festival that featured musicians on three steps, with avatars as an audience. The players were able to interact with each other and enjoy the music just like they would at an IRL festival.

Retro video games have been revived as venues for music festivals and raves. DJ sets are performed on the Dam level of Goldeneye 64 and Hyrule Castle in Legend of Zelda.

The travel industry also explores digital destinations in anticipation of a future with virtual vacations. Philippe Brown of luxury travel firm Brown and Hudson tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence that the convergence of various technologies in the virtual world could create an exciting and serious alternative to travel. Brown says that in the ultra-luxury world, they’re already talking to a client about creating a virtual experience for their family. It’s still early, but the client envisions a destination that combines several previous journeys – some imagined and others on their wishlist.

In the same way, cultural activities that are central to traveling — like going on local tours or visiting museums — find their place on virtual platforms. Nintendo has added several seasonal events to Animal Crossings: New Horizons. Players were invited to celebrate May Day during the first week in May by purchasing a May Day ticket from the island airport and taking a limited-time island tour. Players can celebrate International Museum Day from May 18-31 by visiting various museum exhibits in-game to see fish, insects, and dinosaurs. In April, The Getty Museum launched The Animal Crossing Art Generator. This allows players to collect and view famous artworks from the museum archive.

These digital locations offer an alternative to Zoom-based socializing. They also point to a world where virtual platforms will enhance entertainment rather than hinder it.

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