[UPDATED JANUARY 7, 11:23 am] We’ve run two of these columns so far, directing worldwide readers to an eclectic selection of events in virtual reality. They’re hard to keep up with, and many are announced at the last minute. We guarantee you that some interesting events will hit the web on Friday.
This special edition highlights one interesting and unusual VR concert, a regular weekday party that you might enjoy, and a relaxing excursion in a fantastic, peaceful world of nature.
Concert of the Week
Vark, January 8, 7 pm, admission charge applies
The Vark platform presents live concerts performed by avatars in a virtual concert hall, in an audience that includes enthusiastic robots, which ensures that the concert hall is always full.
Unlike many VR apps, Vark charges admission to its concerts (which angers VR-goers used to free content); Vark’s concerts have considerably more expressive avatars and more elaborate production values than most VR performances, which may include sudden world changes that highlight possibilities of VR unavailable in real life (or “IRL”). You can see a promo video here, which will give you a good sense of the elaborate weirdness of the endeavor.
In addition, everyone is guaranteed good seats and an unobstructed view, no matter how large the crowds, and Vark claims that their audiences are promising, with more than 10,000 people attending Vark concerts in a recent ten-day period. In all of these respects, Vark may represent one significant element of VR’s future.
Vark generally books “vrTubers,” who, in some cases, are completely artificial individuals, with avatar bodies and faces and also voices synthetically created by “otaku’s” through an app called “Vocaloid.” These musical performers, known only through their virtual, avatar selves, have no IRL identity, but have garnered fans and audiences without being “real.” For an especially cheerful but unnerving experience, see this video of a vrTuber interview from a recent Cinderella Switch concert at Vark.
fripSide, who are not vrTubers, will nevertheless perform as avatars rather than their IRL selves, in keeping with Vark’s vibe.
fripSide’s VR concert gives worldwide audiences an opportunity to see a performance of a popular veteran Japanese musical duo in a highly unusual format. fripSide, who perform trance music and have had a series of top ten hits on the Japanese charts, has consisted of Yoshino Nanjo and Satoshi Yaginuma since 2009.
With Yoshino Nanjō’s announcement that she is retiring from fripSide after a farewell tour early this year, this may be the last and only chance for U.S. and European audiences to see them perform in concert.
Party of the Week
January 12th [and a new Pagodascope party every other Wednesday] 3:30-5:30 pm EST, AltspaceVR, free
“Dr. Abstract” (spoiler alert: Not His Real Name) is a cheerful, enthusiastic fellow with a friendly avatar, the kind of person who gives VR a really good name.
For some time, Dr. Abstract has hosted this psychedelic event in a Pee Wee’s Playhouse world, which he describes as “a dance party inside a Kaleidoscope that is shaped like a Pagoda.” The event includes “videos [that] are custom-curated sets with a mix of eclectic synth, new wave, punk, psychedelia, brit pop, many with custom visuals. Surrounding the PagodaScope is NFT op art and gadgets to play with.” This one has a science fiction theme, and your avatar can fly.
The party has a nice, friendly vibe with a crowd of regulars, but we guarantee you that if you are a newbie who shows up announced, you can seek out Dr. Abstract, and he will introduce you around. A fun world with a friendly bunch of “people.”
Excursion of the Week
AltspaceVR, always open, free
Worldbuilder Daisy Shaw reminds us that virtual reality is more than clubs and raves and parties.
“It’s the worlds people spend their lives in,” she tells us, “after the events are over.”
For example, Daisy built a world called “Solitude,” which is a world of mountains, trees, lakes and an abandoned castle.
“I have had people tell me they go there to unwind after a stressful day at work,” she says. “They walk through the forest, go and stand with the wolves, or take a kayak around the lake.”
Indeed, Solitude is a relaxing break; you can hike through the mountains, explore the nearby castle, wade through the water or chase fireflies.
The world is immersive, the nature sounds like nature.
If you are stuck in your apartment, you can put on your headset, and you can really walk great distances through the “Solitude” world, and feel as though you are there. If you have a friend on another continent, or a friend who is quarantined with Omicron, the two of you can have a picnic or go on a hike, and you will feel as though you are really together.
“C.S.Lewis once said,” Daisy notes, “after reading everything in his parent’s library as a boy, that no one had written the books he really wanted to read, so he decided to write them himself. That is the reason behind the worlds I have created.”
Audere Magazine regularly publishes articles about technology and VR. Read more here.