Yesterday Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man, passed away. In tribute to him I wanted to share the story of the design of the 2013 BRC Map which was inspired by his iconic hat.
I always wanted to embed a game into the Map and I decided 2013 would be the year to pull it off. The theme Larry Harvey chose for Burning Man that year was “Cargo Cult”. As I began doing research and tossing around ideas for the BRC Map, Larry’s iconic Stetson kept coming up for me. Cargo Cults tend to worship objects left behind by travelers. Larry’s hat was one of those symbolic objects.
My main collaborator in the design of the game was Brent Boe. As we began the game design we developed a story (poetic version included below). In the story the person who held the hat, held the power to lead and we wanted many people to take a turn wearing the hat. For those patient enough to solve all the puzzles, they were led to a special shiny version of the Stetson. The hat was to be worn for a period of time and then returned to its place so that others could take their turn as the wearer of the hat.
While we were in early development of the game, Burning Man Project’s Global Leadership Conference took place. At the conference that year Larry tossed out his hat during his keynote address proclaiming in essence, the hat belonged to everyone, and Larry thought it looked great on everyone who tried it on. This was a completely synchronistic event that made me feel even more confident that we were on the right track with this concept.
Larry, thank you for the hat and all that you inspired while wearing it. We will keep those memories alive always.
STANZAS FOR THE CULT OF THE HAT
== The Man in the Hat ==
The Man in the Hat, Builder, Originator
Seeking a Perfect Workspace, The Man in the Hat found Playa
Smiling in Delight and Exclaiming with Joy
"Here we create freely"
After Seven Days of Building, The Man in the Hat built a shelter
Shelter from the Sun for rest
A Great Wind descended upon the shelter, and Destroyed it
The Man in the Hat rebuilt from the ruins.
Something new, not built before
Skilled Hands of Effort, Perseverance, and Creativity Begot the Man
== Lady Dustmask ==
To glance in her eyes would ignite a spark
And bring forth a flame to conquer the dark
Burn out your false idols, tis no easy task
And so do we turn to Lady Dustmask
The Wind it did howl, the dust it did sting
And Lady Dustmask had the spirit to sing
She stood in her camp, back straight and chest tall
for nothing of hers would break, bend, or fall
A tribute! She sought to make the night bright
Desire expressed, that we might ignite
Destroy all your demons, you might rightly learn
Refreshment of spirit and watch the man burn
=== CoyoteSpider/Trickster ===
I buffoold two-legs skilldidly
At minds time redo laughs, all eyes
You, sly eyes, comprehentionate this
When do the game make move play hand? Moves it?
Force with rules? Turn eyes backupwards and sly eyes see
All howling chase self to flat dust
Dances wind circles, clouds make, bamfuzzled she
Howls find two legs, now self free
I tricks every-all!
Has trinkets, which time trisksties on self
Moon-time flat dust has fire spot
Two legs has pretties, fun. Make tricksties, show fun and join
Tricksties builded it, destroyed it, wised the none.
Larry Harvey’s Flying Stetson – a true story from the Global Leadership Conference