Wednesday, February 16, 2022

It's Time to Fest Up...

OpensimFest 2022 is heading our way, and confess it, you're curious. 
The overall theme is 'Medieval/Fantasy' and the whole thing will be happening in July, but just what's going on and how can you take part? 
 I asked IMA guru Shelenn Ayres about it, from the origins of the event to the practical details, well, as many as are available at this early stage. 
But first up, what in the virtual world inspired her to take on this crazy project?

A scene from Fest'Avi 2015
Shelenn Ayres:  The creativity in the Hypergrid community itself is inspiring! There are many great collective efforts I've been to or participated in like No Borders Festival raising money for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders; AvatarFest, the predecessor to OpenSim Fest focused on the community of Avatars; and Fest'Avi sharing creative commons Avatars. Each of these efforts have been about celebrating community and creativity with different goals. But there are also
conference gatherings like OSCC, VWBPE, and VWMOOC that celebrate community in other ways yet have limits in ways merchants can be involved because they are held by non-profits. Each has its own format as does OpenSim Fest - all serve the community in different ways.

AvatarFest, 2017
Shelenn Ayres: In prior OpenSim Fests, I really liked the effort to bring together the community of avatars, including merchant activities at the Festival itself, to celebrate their creativity together in a non-conference format. Unfortunately, with all that has been happening in the world, there was no OpenSim Fest in 2021. When I was asked if we could help make it happen in 2022, I talked with some of our team at Infinite Metaverse Alliance (IMA) and we agreed to help fill the gap.

Shelenn Ayres: We considered hosting on an existing grid for obvious reasons but this would not align with the spirit of OpenSim Fest. In our view, to keep the Fest unaffiliated with any grid, where communities of avatars come together to celebrate no matter which grid they call home, it needs to be on a temporary dedicated grid each year then destroyed to begin anew every year. At OpenSim Fest 2022, renewing the tradition, attendance remains 100% free and the OpenSim Fest grid will be accessible from the Hypergrid. 

OpenSim Fest 2020, Photo courtesy WizardOz Chrome
Shelenn Ayres: OpenSim Fest 2020 had 600 attendees from all around the Hypergrid with 40 exhibits and 20 merchant shops. This year the current plan, on a first-come first-serve basis, fifty-five 64x64m exhibitor parcels, twenty-five 64x64m merchant parcels, and ten custom exhibitor and merchant parcels for those that need a large space for display or interactive vehicles will be made available free to the Hypergrid community. Limited access for three months will be available for the builds and testing.              Apart from the time involved in organizing an event like this, someone out there is contributing actual money for servers and so on. So how does that work? Can people chip in?
Shelenn Ayres: On costs, since this is a new dedicated grid without annual commitment we have a small setup fee we have to pay, five months server costs (one month install/test, 3 months build time, one month Fest time), ASCAP music license for the domain to cover performances, and the grid website. Fortunately, the OpenSimulator software is free and open source, along with other supporting software we use, so there are no software costs. 

Shelenn Ayres: The Fest website bill was paid by some of our team who we consider a sponsor and my consulting company is covering the other production costs as the primary sponsor for now. We appreciate offers of help to offset production costs, so this year will include various sponsor opportunities. Each sponsor level will get a parcel, signage, and ads throughout the Fest. For non-virtual participants, optional banner ads will be available. As designed now, if we are able to fill all of the sponsor parcels, production costs will be covered collectively. Any excess sponsor funds, greater than production costs, will be used for performer stipends, distributed evenly per shift. If you are interested in sponsoring at any level or would like a banner ad, contact me on the OpenSim Fest Discord server. Sponsor levels will be posted on the Fest website soon as we work out the details.
             Details!  I like details! give me more!
Shelenn Ayres: The event duration of 12 hours per day for 17 days (total 204 hours) will include 90 hours of live performances. The online venue encompass over four square kilometers of virtual land we hope will be full of creative community exhibits and merchant stores, as well as donated and sponsored content. Official opening date is Jul 8, 2022 with live events happening through July 24, 2022. While the Fest officially closes on the 25th, the OpenSim Fest grid with exhibits and shops will remain accessible until July 31, 2022 for visitors. The duration was increased from 2 days to 17 days so attendance is expected to be higher. We need volunteers to sign up!

  •  Based on the discord roles and 177 members so far, there are currently 24 performers, 40 exhibitors, and 29 merchants. 
  • The schedule of 90 shifts of performers is filling up and may need host/hostess volunteers. The shift signup page is at 
  • Signup to reserve spots for exhibitor parcels is planned as soon as we get the organizer team ready. It's not too late, but we have to set a "hard stop" build deadline at June 30, 2022 to allow for any script updates before the Fest opens. 
  • We have not set a deadline to signup for a free parcel yet but it is a good idea to join us on Discord  and select a role now since that is where we will begin contacts for reservations. 
  • Sponsors will also be allowed to exhibit or have shops on their parcels. 
  • If we run out of free space we may be able to add more free space with increased sponsorship. 
  • The last Fest was held in four regions for a single weekend. We have an ambitious plan with the current design at 17 regions for 17 days for 204 hours, so this is not planned to be a small event! Organizing is fast and furious at the moment - more details to come soon!

          Naturally, Shelenn, there are some rules about what is acceptable behavior/exhibit content at the Festival, so where can people find these? If someone has a question, who can they contact?
Shelenn Ayres: Many of us don't like rules and we don't anticipate any issues. But, to ensure we all have the same expectations of behaviors and ensure everyone has a positive experience, we are using the rules we inherited from prior Fests along with IMA's creative commons community code of conduct. The Terms of Service contains expectations regarding IP rights and Conduct in section 1 at While content in builds should be similar to a PG rating as a public event, all attendees must be 18 years of age or greater since the grid is comprised of user-generated content that may at times be unmoderated. Any team member should be able to answer questions but anyone can contact me directly on Discord if needed. We will provide some training for volunteers before the Fest opens.

OpenSim Fest 2020, Photo courtesy WizardOz Chrome

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