Dance music culture has invaded gaming, and is blurring the line between the real and virtual world. Big gaming companies are recruiting dance music DJs for more than their music. They are co-opting their image, their brand, their personality and weaving their digital avatars into a video game storyline.
Exhibit A: Rockstar Games released an extension to GTA V called After Hours in summer 2018. The aim of the game is to turn an empty warehouse into a thriving nightclub; all as a front for an illicit business, of course. When you’re not busy building a criminal empire, you can dance away the hours to a selection of resident DJs. These DJs aren’t GTA fantasies, however; they are virtual versions of real-life underground acts The Black Madonna, Solomun, Tale of Us and Dixon. Rockstar Games even provided specific missions for each DJ and announced the dates they’d be playing in the weeks following the release.
Epic Games got in on the action earlier this year, and recruited Marshmello, one of the world’s richest EDM DJs, to perform a live concert in online shooter phenomenon, Fortnite. The simulated rave was advertised like a real event, with its location and time identified on a fluorescent banner. On February 2, Marshmello appeared in Pleasant Park — an area on the game’s map — before a crowd of eager Battle Royale players.
A reported 10 million players attended the live virtual show, holed up in bedrooms across the world, plugged into a global server. It streamed on a no-weapons mode with unlimited respawns, meaning players wouldn’t have to worry about their avatars being killed. No stats were recorded; it was just for the fun of it. Lights, lasers and 3D holograms dazzled the crowd as they were launched into the sky when the beat dropped on Marshmello’s track ‘Fly’, and swung bouncy white pickaxes around floating beach balls during ‘Happier’.