While Denzel Curry isn't the first artist to perform a fully virtual concert on Roblox, with Twenty One Pilots and Charli XCX receiving VMA nominations for their respective Roblox performances, he is the first to do so with a purpose other than his own promotion. The "Guacathon block party," as it's been referred to by Curry, is an event that aims to celebrate the life of Joaquin "Guac" Oliver, who lost his life in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, and promote Change The Ref, an organization that shows the effects of mass shootings through the use of urban art. The block party opens on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, and will feature a live performance from Curry, along with other activities.
This event, similar to other, more successful events on the Roblox platform, is being developed by MELON and will feature various minigames, including a street art minigame created by Shepard Fairey, the founder and designer behind the iconic brand, Obey. In an interview with Obey Giant, Oliver's family recounts that, throughout his 17 years of life, Oliver loved street art and basketball, making the in-game minigames and the collaboration with Fairey all the more meaningful.
Not only is this block party the first on Roblox's platform to directly support someone other than the artist performing, it's the first time that Roblox has ever made or promoted a political statement. Previously, the company has stayed quiet when conversations surrounding more polarizing topics, such as gun reform, have sparked in their communities or across social media in general. Now, however, as stated by Fairey himself, this collaborative event may be a step toward encouraging more open conversations within the Metaverse.
"I’ve seen how art can shift the conversation and bring us together in politically and culturally meaningful ways,” said Fairey. “I’m eager to watch this same thing unfold in the Metaverse and to see if we can start a new conversation around gun safety and violence that’s led by the young people too often impacted by it.”
With nearly half of Roblox's player base being over the age of 13, as reported by consumer data website Statista, Oliver's family hopes that this event will positively impact all of the youth in attendance and encourage them to start conversations surrounding gun reform and gun laws. As advocates of creative activism, Oliver's parents, Change The Ref founders Manuel and Patricia Oliver, believe that experimenting with the malleability of the Metaverse is the best way to connect with the impressionable and powerful youth.
Though Oliver is no longer alive, his mother has asked MELON to create an NPC avatar of him inside of the Guacathon block party experience. That way, those who join the event can celebrate the life of Oliver alongside him rather than mourn his death alone.
“We’re not having a moment of silence. We’re having a party,” said Oliver's mother. “I’m grateful for the Metaverse, for having a place where my son can help people connect and share his life. I want his peers to enjoy a party in his honor and make friends with his Metaverse self.”
The party will begin at 5pm CT on Aug. 4, 2022, which is Oliver's birthday, and will likely continue throughout the following weekend. To kick off the event, Curry will be performing a variety of songs from his latest studio album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, along with other songs from his wide discography. In his interview with Obey Giant, Curry comments on his own experiences with gun violence and why he chose to collaborate with Oliver's family on the Guacathon project.
“There’s been a lot of misuse of guns in the United States that claim the lives of many, I’ve lost a lot of friends and family members to gun violence,” said Curry. “Today isn’t a sad day for the family of Joaquin…today is a day we celebrate the life of Joaquin to the fullest to show his legacy will never be forgotten and that we have brighter days yet to come.”
All who wish to celebrate Oliver's life and learn more about activism within the Roblox community are encouraged to join the Guacathon event.
Looking to stay up to date on all things Roblox? Be sure to check out PGG's Roblox page where you can find articles on Fans host a funeral in memory of Roblox’s beloved ‘oof’ sound upon its deletion, Nickelodeon joins the Roblox Metaverse with officially licensed Nickverse experience, but players aren’t happy, and more.