How Burning Man Inspired Us to Create the Game Shadow’s Edge

How Burning Man Inspired Us to Create the Game Shadow’s Edge


It’s that time a year again, when over 70,000 “Burners” from across the U.S. and from over 30 countries descend on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for a transformative, life-changing week: Burning Man.

I’ve heard from those who have been that Burning Man simply defies words—it just needs to be experienced. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Burning Man, it’s a festival where people converge in the middle of the Nevada desert to build a temporary city, and then fill this community with art, music, and celebration of individual and collective expression.

Here at Digging Deep, we have a special relationship with Burning Man: the festival inspired our game, Shadow’s Edge, the first FREE game to build resilience in young people facing health challenges. My husband, Eric, is a 3-time Burner. As a virgin Burner, in addition to bringing home piles of very dusty clothing, Eric shared with me a booklet which outlined the 10 Guiding Principles of Burning Man that he had received as he entered the community he was about to build and participate in for the coming week.

Three of the Burning Man Guiding Principles outlined in this booklet immediately resonated with me. The first principle is Radical Inclusion—embracing everyone who dares to make the journey.  What an inspiring metaphor and goal for the journey through illness our players would make! Principle four is Radical Self-Expression. Now this was exactly what I wanted to create in the game—a safe place to put yourself ‘out there.’  Principle three was my favorite – encouraging individuals to discover, exercise, and rely on their inner resources. I wanted the game we set out to create to do just that.

With these principles fresh in my mind, I set out to join our Digging Deep creative team, Rosy and Kevyn Eva, along with our game development partners, Little Chicken Gaming Company, at our first workshop in Amsterdam to discuss the vision of what would become Shadow’s Edge. Couldn’t we create a game that represented an artistic mega-utopia, one where people connected through their self-expression?  A place where each individual’s unique gifts and self-expression would be honored?  A community where different abilities, talents, and health histories come together and are not just accepted, but fully appreciated for what they offer the community?  A place where everyone contributes by sharing a piece of him or herself?

If you’ve played Shadow’s Edge, you may recognize how we have incorporated hints of Black Rock City into our game. As many of you know, as you enter the game, the city of Shadow’s Edge has been hit by a terrible storm. Before the storm, art was the city’s life blood. Now everything is flat and grey. By searching through the city for the pages of a missing journal and painting the city walls with graffiti, players revive the former artistic utopian city, adding pieces of themselves to bring back self-expression.

The ninth Burning Man principle ends with the words, “We make the world real by actions that open the heart.” Come, play Shadow’s Edge, and see for yourself how we’ve created a world that helps you take actions that open the heart.