Assistant Professor of Game Design Kel Bachus and a team of Champlain students recently piloted Fiberworld, a fully virtual craft festival. The festival was conceived this May and took place from August 19 to 23, where over 1800 paid attendees visited over 80 “booths,” 87 classes, demos, lectures, and explored other pre-recorded content. One day, the site hit over one million visitors.
The Champlain students involved were Theo Schorrenburg (programming), Nick Deluzio (design and integration), and Ian Kehoe (producer). University of Vermont communication major Riley Karl assisted as well. Other Champlain students, including Anna Margotta, Sage Burns, Bradley Jones, Jodi Moore, and Marc Bonilla, had consulting roles.
According to Bachus, the first challenge was to “determine what key ‘user’ experiences made up a festival, and made them worth going to. Then we created new experiences that were familiar ad satisfying, but also unique and fully suited to a virtual environment.”
Bachus and their team wanted Fiberworld to be accessible to anyone, regardless of technology. The whole show was contained in-browser; live content was embedded as well, so downloading Zoom was not necessary.
“I think the biggest part of the whole experience was problem-solving on the fly,” said programmer Theo Schorrenburg. “Fiberworld was an interesting experience of having a whole development team of students working on something we’ve never really done before. We weren’t actually all that confident in being able to complete the whole website on time, but we still somehow managed to do so…We kept running into roadblocks and having to find new ways around them…The whole thing was like a big learning experience for everyone involved.”
The new company has already received inquiries from in-person craft festivals, requesting their help in creating similar virtual experiences. Bachus credits the success of this experimental festival to the Champlain students, who have been “professional, innovative, and completely fearless. The Game Studio’s failure-tolerant, innovation-forward environment allowed the team to hit the ground running, experiment and iterate while hitting every milestone.”
Click here to check out a video about Fiberworld.
Erika Skorstad ’21—Contributor