The internet offers its users never-before-seen connectivity. Today, billions of connected devices can access anything from casual games at the 7Sultans Casino to web cameras from halfway across the world. At the same time, the internet offers its users a brand new social experience that doesn’t rely on being in the same room – or the same continent, really. People have been making good use of the world’s increasingly connected nature during the pandemic – the use of social networks skyrocketed, and people have often been using online video games for social interaction (and a bit of escapism). At the same time, some artists and music performers have resorted – for lack of a better alternative – to video games as a medium.
Travis Scott held a series of performances inside the popular video game Fortnite this April. This was not the first time such events were held – last February, American DJ Marshmello had a similar gig in the same game, and there are examples of artists’ performances simulcast to Second Life (a mix between a social network and a video game) as early as 2006. But Travis Scott’s performance was different: instead of following the tried-and-tested scheme of the artist’s avatar “playing” on a scene, it turned the entire environment into one, making use of the game’s possibilities to perform. Some say this is the next level of interactive music videos and – why not – virtual performances.
Fortnite is not the only such venue that’s growing in popularity. Minecraft, the best-selling video game of all time (with more than 200 million units sold since its inception) is also a tried-and-tested venue for virtual performances. In 2016, volunteers from the Norwegian technology festival The Gathering have simulcast a series of live performances from the event inside the game. And earlier this year, a virtual prom was held in Minecraft, inside the complete replica of the Westview High School in Oregon. Not to mention the Electric Blockaloo, a party/music festival with more than 300 performers that’ll be held on June 25-28 in Minecraft, that the organizers, Rave [dot] Family, call “the new normal”.
Simple Streaming is Not The Same
Of course, these virtual events held inside virtual venues are by far not the same experience as a trip to Coachella, Download, or Sziget, for example. But neither is streaming past performances or even live ones on Twitch or YouTube, even if it’s a high-profile event like the recent Dear Class of 2020. Commenting on a live video on social media or streaming service will never match the in-person interactions of a real-life event. And while events held inside video games are also not great at this, they are just a tiny bit closer with their in-game chats and superior interactivity.
This year is pretty much a lost cause when it comes to traditional music festivals. All the major events across the globe have been either postponed to next year or canceled outright. Virtual events will likely be the only alternative, at least for the time being. And in the future, the two might even coexist.