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Abstract

Meta’s Horizon Worlds is among the first Metaverse platforms. Through a digital ethnography, this paper examines the contours of Horizon Worlds. Drawing upon affordances theory, the paper considers the affordances of Horizon Worlds Metaverse within the context of the user experience. Findings suggest that storytelling is central to the nature of the meaning generated inside Horizon Worlds and perhaps the Metaverse in general. But it is not storytelling in a conventional sense. Stories inside the Metaverse are not linear and there is no plot. Metaverse stories do have characters, and they travel pathways and engage in activities and sequential events, and they may generate meaning. Options inside Horizon Worlds are finite though large in number (e.g., 10,000+ user-created worlds) and growing within the parameters of the Metaverse platform. Each user constructs their own narrative. This parallels the narrative of life in the physical world. The meaning is not yet clear but may be constructed by the users themselves. Unfortunately, problems such as sexual assault violently undermine the promise of this virtual world, and unless the Metaverse can be made safe it is likely to devolve into a toxic virtual mess.

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