Virtual real estate is booming. In December 2021, one buyer spent $450,000 on a plot of land in rapper Snoop Dogg’s virtual world. Which begs the question, What will be built there?
By contrast, space in the metaverse—the version of the internet comprising immersive games and other virtual reality environments—has so far been smooth, clean, and very ordinary. This is despite its links to emerging “disruptive” technologies, such as cryptocurrencies.Our research shows that while designing virtual worlds gives people a creative voice, it can also reveal the infinitely more complex social, societal, and historical ways by which physical places are formed.