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.

Flash Mob 2014!

Here’s a game for Burners to play at Caravansary. Maybe it’ll be fun, maybe it’ll be lame. Maybe it will be an ice breaker for shy Burners, or a guide for the Virgin who’s not sure what to do and where to go next. Maybe it will help get some activity going in some of the back streets. There’s more crazy shit going on in Black Rock City than just the Esplanade and the Playa.

Go to each hour, and the number of the hour in letters, on the hour.

trippy clock2pm  2:00 & B

3pm  3:00 & C

4pm  4:00 & D

5pm  5:00 & E

6pm  6:00 & F

7pm 7:00 & G

8pm 8:00 & H

9pm 9:00 & I

10pm 10:00 & J

If you play the game, and show up at one of these locations at one of these times…tell ’em Burners.Me sent you. And send us a photo!



Snapcious Hones Your Photog Chops

by Whatsblem the Pro

An entry in a recent Snapcious Mission -- PHOTO: Mack Reed / Snapcious

An entry in a recent Snapcious Mission — PHOTO: Mack Reed / Snapcious

Mack Reed, a burner since 1996, is launching a free photo game for iOS called SNAPCIOUS that he says “inspires you to see the world through different eyes.”

“The challenge – ‘who can take the best picture of an idea?’ – adds meaning to the willy-nilly-photograph-anything obsession we all have with sharing photos,” Mack explains. “It inspires your creativity, and pushes you to see the world around you more intensely.”

According to Mack, the snappy new app encourages the average non-photographer Joe or Joette armed only with a phone cam to start thinking like a fine arts photographer, or a photojournalist.

“Snapcious brings out your inner photojournalist so you can do kick-ass coverage of your life. . . and it challenges you to develop your visual voice, putting your full creativity into everything you snap.”

How does it work?

“Every day, a new crowd-sourced Mission begins. It’s like a simple photo assignment, thought up by the players themselves – ‘Quality of Light,’ ‘Go Ahead and Jump,’ ‘Bad Hair Day’ – in which players snap and share their interpretation of the Mission and then everyone rates the photos.

“Top-rated photos win. As you earn more points by posting photos, rating them, adding comments and suggesting ideas for new Missions, you gradually level up and gain more insight into the art of photography.”

The game is still in its first incarnation, with a raft of incentives planned. Mack is clearly passionate about both the game and photography itself; he seems to want above all to leverage the ubiquity of camera phones to foster more and better photographers.

“When you level-up,” he tells me, “you’ll get access to a pro camera, pro editing tools, and the ability to mentor newer photographers by offering pro tips. In short, we’re building a culture around the notion that everyone secretly desires to become an award-winning photographer, and that photography is a language we can all learn to use with more beauty, finesse and meaning, if we just start communicating more effectively through what we shoot.

“We all take photos as easy as blinking. We all need to start making photos more meaningful, insightful and beautiful. Anyone can share a photo of their pet, their breakfast or their best friend. But how many of us are sharing photos that challenge the eye, that reveal something about us, that expose our inner beauty?

“That’s why we built the game – we want to give people the tools to feed their inner eye and see the world differently.”

You can check out the game at Snapcious.com or download it for iOS.

Mack himself gives a game walkthrough in this video:

Throw Water at Sparkle Pony

by Whatsblem the Pro

You'll never get it up the steps!

You’ll never get it up the steps!


Tribes That May Be is a text adventure project by Jonathan ‘Gadget’ Freedman and Adrienne ‘Ashtar’ Haik that takes players to a virtual version of Burning Man 2013.

The game is available to play for free online at http://tribesthatmay.be/

So, what’s a text adventure, you ask? Get off my lawn, kid!

Text adventures – sometimes called ‘Zork’ or ‘Infocom’ games – have no graphics, and require the user to type in actions like “get bicycle” and “unlock door with key.” The responses given by the computer are also straight text, with no graphics. Tribes That May Be differs only in that your choices are presented to you as hyperlinks you can click on; you can do it the old-fashioned way if you like, but to navigate around and use the basic functions of the game you’re not required to do any typing.

Infocom, the makers of the game ZORK, came to define the genre after releasing the original version of their text adventure game sometime in 1977. However, Zork drew heavily on an earlier, even more seminal work by Will Crowther (and later, Don Woods), a programmer who worked at the company that developed the packet switching scheme that runs the Internet.

Crowther was a spelunker, and modeled his game ADVENT (aka ADVENTURE, or COLOSSAL CAVE) on his explorations of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This reporter spent many a prepubescent hour plumbing the depths of his creation, killing dwarves in Bedquilt, shouting magic words like ‘XYZZY’ and ‘PLUGH’ and “FEE FIE FOE FOO” at the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or wandering lost in “a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” I even managed to port ADVENT to my Altair 8800 at one point, and wasted whole forests playing it on the attached teletype.

Who knows what you’ll find on the virtual playa, circa 2013? We’re not revealing any secrets here; you’ll just have to discover the wonders of Tribes That May Be on your lonesome, stranger.

Mutant Gas Alert!


by Whatsblem the Pro

In news that will surely upset those who fondly imagine Larry Harvey as Moses handing the Ten Principles down to the Chosen, the Org is testing the waters to see if a Black Rock City gas station might be a workable idea.

Yesterday, the following e-mail was sent out to registered Mutant Vehicle owners:

Greetings BRC licensed vehicle owners.

To best support the Burning Man community in ways that make sense, we are researching the possibility of having fuel available for BRC licensed vehicles on playa this year. To fully research this, we need some information from you on your potential fuel needs. We only need you to fill out the survey if you are planning on bringing your vehicle to be licensed by the BRC DMV on playa in 2013.

In brief, we are looking at the possibility of a system where you would prepay for credit that you would then use on playa via some sort of token or card to fill your Mutant Vehicle or Disabled permitted vehicle. This would not be for other vehicles at the event. No money would be exchanged on playa. You would possibly be able to add more credit to the system if you run out on playa, and we are also researching options on how to handle unused funds. The exact process is still pending. Prices would be comparable to or possibly less than fuel in Gerlach.

Please fill out the following survey on the link below so we can assess fuel needs. We recommend you fill out the survey using a full computer and not a smart phone or tablet.

Respondents were asked to provide their names, e-mail addresses, names of vehicles, and an estimate of how many gallons of fuel they expect to use on the playa. A space for additional comments was also provided.

It’s silly to decry this as a potential violation of the principle of decommodification. . . or is it?

In one sense, it definitely is silly. The decommodification of the playa began as a utilitarian thing, not some holy-joe attempt at purifying our spirits by freeing us from the evil bonds of Mammon. I’ve written about sacred cows and the origins of on-playa decommodification before; if it lacks a profit motive, this idea of providing a gas station for Mutant Vehicle owners only conflicts with the decommodification principle if you’re some kind of trash-eating zealot who is so allergic to capitalism that touching a dollar bill would make you break out in open sores.

On the other hand, if there’s a profit motive here, then what we’re looking at is the Org testing the waters for the establishment of future revenue streams. With Burning Man going non-profit, the founders and other Org players who have been raking in millions of dollars from ticket sales each year will soon see the primary source of their great wealth turn to dust and ashes. . . and money is known to be a powerfully addictive substance.

We should all recognize that a gas station would be a useful, handy thing to provide for Mutant Vehicle owners that would reduce waste and fuel transport inefficiencies. However, we should also be aware that BRC already has a gas station, run by DPW. Traditionally, if you want to gas up your art car there, you pay in beer. Lots of beer. It’s possible that the Org is simply trying to stem that flow. We should also recognize, however, that with all the money pouring into their coffers and all the expense and labor of building and operating a Mutant Vehicle, it might be reasonable to expect the Org to provide MV drivers with gasoline for free, or at least at cost.

Now let’s look at that e-mail again:

Prices would be comparable to or possibly less than fuel in Gerlach.

Well there’s the rub right there. If fuel prices at an on-playa gas station are comparable to retail prices in Gerlach, then someone’s going to be turning a profit on this. If the prices are less than retail in Gerlach, how much less will they be? If it’s higher than at-cost, we again must wonder who’s raking it in.

Who's pumping you?

Who’s pumping you?

Given that the Org has profited so mightily on an event that has been mainly dreamed up and built by volunteer labor and paying attendees, it seems par for the course but still a bit of a slap in the face on several levels to watch them cynically size us up for further fleecing, if in fact that’s what they’re doing. . . and make no mistake: whether or not this is an example of a fleecing in the offing, we can be sure that now that the Org is going non-profit, ancillary businesses controlled by insiders will be popping up like mushrooms on a cow pat. It’s going to be George Bush’s great-grandfather selling rifle straps and stocks to the army all over again. To deny this is to deny that the people running the Org are greedy in proportion with the wealth they’ve already attained, and that would be giving them credit where none is due; they are, after all, human beings, with all the ethical frailty being human implies.

Oh, and speaking of credit:

You would possibly be able to add more credit to the system if you run out on playa, and we are also researching options on how to handle unused funds.

I’ll bet. At this point, it’s hard to say what this gas station idea truly portends. . . but we do know from long experience that basic accounting is extremely difficult for the Org, even though they find advanced game theory so easy.

All levity aside, let’s hope Mutant Vehicle owners benefit from this without funneling more undeserved wealth into the hands of people who are already undeservedly wealthy.