Burning Man: The Board Game

burning man board game

A great idea here that will provide hours of entertainment for Burners.

Johan the Dome Guy is a 20-year veteran of Burning Man, he has built many of the fabulous domes we’ve all enjoyed.

The idea behind the Burning Man Board Game is to have fun, and maybe learn a bit about Burner culture at the same time. You can use actual MOOP for game pieces.

moop game piecesThe game has interactive elements, like “everybody bump the thermostat on your A/C up 5 degrees”, which will have a flow on effect on the Playa.

bm board game

The game is being created as a reward on Kickstarter to help raise funds for some of the larger camps. Backers of the project can choose which camp they want to support with their donation. This follows the tradition of camps like SK8 selling skateboards and hoodies with the Burning Man logo, but is nowhere near the blatant commodification of Fest300 making Burning Man promotional videos with 10 seconds of their logo in them.

10 principles

A Burner who has played the game several times already told us “it’s fun to play, and I don’t like board games”.

Fun, right – that’s what this is all about? Art and enjoyment. All of us participating together, to amuse and entertain each other. Not money, not corporate power. Decommodification, not DECOMMODIFICATION LLC. Word is BMOrg are in an emergency crisis meeting right now about this game. Let’s hope they don’t try to shut it down. Last year they said they were teaming up with Indiegogo and Kickstarter to support Burning Man artists…how’s that coming along?

Find out more at the Burning Man Board Game Kickstarter page.

There is some discussion about the game at Reddit. Apparently some Burners think no camp should ever be allowed to use anything related to Burning Man in their fundraisers. This is different from Burning Man’s policy, though.

Screenshot 2015-04-07 11.15.53I would rather play this game than Caravancicle’s Burner Bingo…but to each their own. Cards Against Humanity released their game under the Creative Commons license, you can download it for free. This might be a good way for Burning Man The Board Game to go. Perhaps even an open source version, where Burners can come up with their own cards and share them.

43 comments on “Burning Man: The Board Game

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  3. Since the BOrg has come down on this, the answer is to put it in the public domain. Let anyone download it and play, for free. Make it open-source and available to anyone. Take ideas and (gift) contributions, but don’t charge for it.

    The main focus of the BOrg is their unfounded desire for control. Deny them that by making it a crowdsourced entity. Yeah, no chance for any revenues, but the idea can continue and grow.

    The thing the BOrg does not understand is Gifting. Gift this to the community. That will drive them nuts!

          • If anyone was looking for proof that Burning Man is run by corporate interests, and not Burners: there you have it.

            The smugness of Burnier-Than-Thous like Virtual Jupiter over the destruction of something Burners made to entertain and educate other Burners that’s fun and light-hearted – and totally within both the rules and the spirit of Black Rock City – is a sad statement of what this society has now become. I would rather the Founders walked off with $10 million each, than trashed our culture the way they have with their “charitable” tax-reduction retirement plans.

        • This is the link with details:

          “The Burning Man Board Game [Submitted by Burning Man]

          Date: Apr 17, 2015

          Burning Man
          660 Alabama Street
          San Francisco, CA 94110

          Sent via online form

          Kickstarter, Inc.
          58 Kent Street
          Brooklyn, NY 11222

          Re: The Burning Man Board Game

          Description of copyrighted material: Burning Man owns the copyrights to the Burning Man sculpture and the design of the Black Rock City map. Burning Man also owns the trademarks to the names “Burning Man” and “Black Rock City” and the Burning Man symbol.

          Description of infringing material: This Kickstarter campaign is for “The Burning Man Board Game,” which uses Burning Man’s intellectual property, described above, without authorization from Burning Man.”

        • But here’s the thing, Burnersxxx, I feel that burning man is probably protecting us from some bullshit scam, as they have in the past, and will continue to do. They looked at this kickstarter, discussed it, and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to be cool. I know many of these deciders, I have good reasons to trust them, and I know that when they make decisions about things like this, it’s usually after a lot of research. It is my sincere hope that Domeguy and friends find success in other burning man endeavors since this one wasn’t going to fly. And yes, I am burnier than thou, and yes it’s awesome up here. Next?

          • Too bad it’s not just personal gain, or protecting burners from themselves. No, it’s about control. How else do you explain this:

            What’s the problem with “Burners without Borders?” While it works as an excellent title, it is something the BOrg cannot claim rights to. It does not have “Burning Man” in it, and is too much like Doctors without Borders to claim any rights.

            No, this all is from a deep psychological dysfunctionality to control the burners who are largely, by definition, uncontrollable. The BOrg would rather cripple something than have it not under their tight and direct control.

          • in business school they teach the famous analogy of a frog in a boiling pot. The frog could jump out, but it’s happy in the warm water. They keep turning the heat up, bit by bit, until the water is boiling and the frog is killed.

            This is actually the real strategy of the powerful Fabian Society, which has had a massive role in generating today’s culture of political correctness and subjective truth.

            The antics of Larry & Co since their non profit announcement, seem to be continually turning up the temperature – like a giant experiment to see how far they can push Burners, while maintaining their innocence via propaganda. “We’re doing this to save you from a scam “…yeah right. I prefer Nomad’s analysis, it’s well thought out and seems to apply consistently to their bizarre actions.

          • If the BOrg were to be based on the event, and not their pathetic attempts to control the event, the BOrg would enfranchise the burners. The BoD would have representatives from the burners – those who make the event – as a functional majority if not exclusive voting privileges. And those representatives would not be hand chosen but would be democratically elected, with contested elections, and voting by the constituency. And the representatives would be responsible to their constituents.

            No, the BOrg is a perfect representation of the demise of the US democracy, where the voters are all but entirely marginalized. The BOrg has simple taken the next step to avoid them all together. That all is fine in a corporate entity where the product or service is largely or wholly created by the corporation. But this is a stone soup activity, represented by many professional organizations: they ONLY exist because of the members and their volunteer efforts.

            If Ford Motor Company decides to stop making cars, or make them all with three wheels, that is up to them. But if the AMA decides that doctors will not treat gay people, that does not directly govern the action of doctors; moreover, they could not make that decision because they are not run by a BoD based on proprietary interests in the enterprise as does FoMoCo. Their BoD comes from their members. If the AMA and their BoD make arbitrary decisions that don’t reflect the members, most of the members will just pick themselves up and start a new organization. That’s why the AMA BoD constantly enfranchises their members. That is what the BORg does not do.

    • Do you feel like HQ, Bman ORG should stop it from happening? I have no personal or monetary gain. A game that we all create and absolutely all proceeds after printing and shipping go back to Burning Man related camps and projects. 100% transparent. Within their rules and ethos. We all come up with tasks, trivia etc and keep it an open endeavor, thinking outside the box. Even on the KS campaign you can name your camp of choice, proceeds go to. It’s all right there, checks will be mailed. Responsibility and following the rules is my goal. )'(

      • While they would be more than happy to claim those “Burning Man related camps and projects” as part of their gross receipts and donations to support the artists, you are crowd-sourcing this without letting them be in charge. BAD Burner! VERY BAD BURNER!! All must come from the largess and pay homage to the NPD BOrg. That, or carry a BoD corporate logo.

  4. Oh and before I forget. The plan is change up The Game every year. By Burners For Burners. I’m hosting a Dome at Bman this year to add additional rules, activities and trivia created by YOU. )'(

  5. Thank you all for the support! Kickstarter just announced the game to be a STAFF PICK! I’m very grateful. Think outside the box! Just a game… I’m getting pictures of guys unloading AK-47’s in my mailbox. Really?

  6. It’s a bit too sweet and nice. I’d like it if it had some edge. The goal should be to camp at First Camp. Along the way you have to climb the social ladder and deal effectively with douchebags, or maybe even becomes the supreme douchebag. As you progress, you learn how to work the black market and put volunteers to work for you as you gain popularity and have a harem of sparkle ponies chasing you. Try to avoid false rape accusations and being branded ‘difficult to work with’. You could gain bonus points for retrieving the alcohol that DPW stole from your camp. The possibilities are endless.

  7. Johan is a great guy who has been involved and supported the burner community for years and designed, delivered and built most of the domes on the playa… Yep, the ones all of us have danced our asses off in. His heart is in the right place and the game is actually fun to play and I hate board games.

  8. No one has anything positive to say about it on Reddit;


    “There were a number of things that seemed off to me.

    $38,000 seems like a lot of make a board game, there is no budget breakdown and they even say they’re fund raising for their camps not for the board game. That seems like a bit of shitty bait and switch to me.

    And I actually kinda think this is the
    very definition of commodification. I mean they are literally attempting to package the experience into a neat little box so you can play Burning Man from the comfort of your living room.

    I mean I’m not outraged, more incredulous and amused by the sincerity with which they’re doing it.

    The other issues I noticed;

    The idea of having a headlamp but needing a drink and looking around to see what cards other players have that you can trade for sounds an awful lot like bartering which is, you know, not gifting.

    And coconut water?! I genuinely LOLed that that. Not everyone on the playa is a hipster. Plenty of folks still drink regular water.

    Then there’s the claim that is will “revolutionise how board games are perceived and played” umm what? That’s a HUGE claim and there’s not really anything there to back it up.

    And the questions are inane. The Rangers of BRC are a. cooks, b. newbies or c. volunteers. Wow. High level stuff.

    Ok maybe I am a little angry….”

      • If you’ve been paying enough attention to Jovankat on Reddit to make a mood assessment how have you not noticed she’s not a dude? Or that she runs “that flamingo camp”?

        Also I’d say r/BurningMan is as good a judge of Burner Sentiment as your comment section…

        Also, for what it’s worth, Johan has displeased a few folk in the FB Theme Camp Organisers group spamming this too.

        • Dudette then. I think a better judge of Burner sentiment is Likes, Comments, and Shares on our Facebook page, which is linked to this WordPress site. This post got nearly 1000 Likes on Facebook and was shared at least 1200 times. I think it’s fair to say that Burners like this idea, since none of the shares I saw were “how dare they!”, “these bastards!”, etc.

          • I disagree that likes are worth anything at all, it doesn’t take any engaging with an idea to click like. And your almost 700 likes only accounts for 0.5% of your followers. I’m not convinced that’s even statistically significant. Hell considering how often I see comments that show the commenter hasn’t actually bothered to read the posted article I’m not sure comments on FB are even worth that much and you’ve only got 36 of those. I’m also quite often amazed at how vocal and damning some of your followers who have never even been to the burn are. I can’t help but smirk every time I read comments about how burning man is ruined and they wish they’d gone before but won’t now. The comments on Reddit showed a lot more thought and engagement with the idea than most below your post. Regardless of where I posted my thoughts I think I think the criticisms I made of this venture are both valid and relevant and I’ve not seen anyone make any arguments to show otherwise as yet.

          • Likes in themselves may be meaningless, but as a way to judge the popularity of one post versus another they surely have some meaning. I think it would be reasonable to infer that more Burners liked the post with 1000 Likes than the one with 4. Same thing with shares. People are sharing this story saying “I like”, “good idea”, things like that – not “I hate”, “ban it”, etc.

            The arguments against your criticism (presumably you are this Jovankat you speak of in the third person) are in my article: this is already allowed by BMOrg, according to the rules. I posted their policy.

            Of course, they can just change the rules to ban it – and why wouldn’t they do that, this is something fun and independent of them, so of course it must be squashed. Maybe they have their own board game, coming soon?

            WRT the rest of your rant, are you really wanting someone to debate you about the coconut water, or the sophistication of the questions? As for playing the game at home, the impression I got was that this was for Burning Man – use MOOP as a game piece, some of the game elements require interacting with the event, etc.

          • I thought the bit about Jovankat running the flamingo camp and my user name here would make it pretty clear that yes I am Jovankat.

            I’m sorry I really don’t see the value of 166 people out of a possible 129,000 mindlessly sharing your post when a significant portion of them have never even been to a burn compared comments from people who are burners and are active in the community and obviously actually clicked through to the Kickstarter page, watched the video and formed an opinion that they then took the time to voice.

            Hell it doesn’t even sound like you watched the video properly. The game is meant to be played anywhere not specifically on playa. The video specifically says “before you know it the place that you decide to play the game turns into a Burning Man spectacle” They are literally saying “buy this and you can play Burning Man at home!”

            And in some ways that’s actually kinda good because I’d really hope that anyone who is already on the playa playing this game knows the answer to inane questions like “how much drinking water show you bring?” “What things can you buy on playa?” “What is a mutant vehicle?” “I the playa basic or acidic.” Which is where the suggestion that the criticism is just “fun police” is bullshit. My criticism is that this doesn’t look fun, it looks lame. Super lame. And the bartering in the game rather than gifting is totally a reasonable cause for concern. That is pretty egregious misrepresentation of life on the playa. And the claim of revolutionising board games. I’d love to hear a bit more about that because I’ve seen some pretty revolutionary games and this doesn’t even come close.

            As to it being allowed by the rules that doesn’t even come close to giving it a free pass. All the turn-key crap last year was ok’ed by the board that didn’t mean you just accepted it as ok. That doesn’t mean this doesn’t look a hell of a lot like a cynical attempt to sell a packaged “Burning Man Experience.” I honestly don’t understand how you, of all people, cannot see this as at very least problematic.

          • I think this is a light-hearted, fun thing that many Burners will enjoy, that might help raise some funds for camps that give everything and ask nothing. I definitely don’t see it as “we’re going to market a Burning Man board game and sell it in Wal-Mart”.

            Decommodification LLC owns the trademark Burning Man for Arts Festivals, not board games.

            You think it looks lame; I haven’t played it myself, but I believe the reports from Burners who’ve played it and thought it was great fun. The inane questions you’re complaining about are designed to teach virgins about BM.

            Bottom line: whatever you think of this aesthetically, who does it hurt?

          • Yes, this is another non-BOrg activity that must be squashed! This year, to show that the theme camps and artists are interchangeable and replaceable, they will need to fit their creativity into a standard 10’x 10′ booth space.

            Would The Game be played in a booth? If not, seems like another job for my Kickstarter campaign to deal with. Contributors get to join a roving band who beat the crap out of people doing anything interesting like this at the NV burn where a BoD member does not have a piece of the action.


            The campaign is going well, but as I mentioned, to avoid any confusion, all BoD-sanctioned “fun” things need to carry an appropriate corporate logo. So far I don’t see any BoD logos on The Game. Find a BoD sponsor, or suffer the wrath of BOrg.

            Defaultification rules!

          • Wow. I am impressed with flamingosftw (or someone else) running down all the rabbit trails for those stats on the FB Likes and Shares. Seems those have earned the same level of due diligent analysis as the BOrg financials. However, I would bet that the audiences and goals are quite disjoint.

            I just wonder if that effort in analyzing FB goes under the`category of compensated effort, or get-a-life…

          • If you look at the story itself, here on WordPress, at the Facebook button at the bottom it says 1k+ (shares). Maybe this is only visible to me. Anyway, that’s where I got 1200 shares from. It’s probably more. It’s a fallacy to say “that means only 1% liked it” because not every Facebook story shows up in every news feed.

            In the interests of transparency, here are the stats from Facebook on that post. The engagement rate is 6%, which is good but not great; great is 10-11%.


            All you analysts, go nuts! Does this show that Burners hate the board game, or like it?

            I read the data as 2798 people clicked the link, and 897 people clicked Like – meaning 32% of Burners who read the story Liked it. On this metric, the post is very popular, compared to most. I don’t believe that means 68% disliked it, in fact it only got 8 dislikes.

          • “Decommodification LLC owns the trademark Burning Man for Arts Festivals, not board games.” WHAT?! You mean Ford Motor Company does not own the trademark to Mustang porn videos and the Mustang Ranch?…

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