2 min read

Nostalgia in the Metaverse: Visiting Blockbuster in VRChat

I don’t think we’re putting enough emphasis on bringing nostalgia to the metaverse. We can design metaverse spaces that help us reconnect or recover things we’ve lost in the world. And it would be a great onboarding point to get older populations into the social side of the metaverse.

For example, I recently stumbled upon a world in VRChat that transports you to a Blockbuster Video store circa 1994:

The world is called the 77077 Arcade & Bar. And in the year and a half this world has existed, more than 180,000 people have visited it. Blockbuster nostalgia drove all of these visitors. What’s fascinating is that the space mostly attracts older populations:

The above sentiment makes a lot of sense, and I think it’s something we can learn a lot from. There are experiences and brands we cherish that have been long gone but can now recreate in the metaverse. And in many ways, this nostalgia can actually be an introductory point for one value of the metaverse (which is traveling “back in time”).

Upon further research, I found a slew of other nostalgia-based VRChat worlds that have been extremely successful in attracting visitors:

My stance is that metaverse hobbies and interests will be a major long-term appeal of the metaverse. Bringing a bit of nostalgia to this paradigm adds another layer of allure to the metaverse.

Studying Metaverse World Builders

As I was diving into the rabbit hole of trying to find the creator of 77077 Arcade, I happened upon a website that documents/organizes all of the VRChat worlds, records usage stats, and showcases the world builders. I’m actually super enamored by the site (Worlds on VRChat) because it adds so much to the discovery side of metaverse experiences.

I can go to the site, sort by the billiards category, and find there are 1,071 worlds with pool tables. Furthermore, I can then sort those worlds by total visits, day-to-day visitor count, and recency. And when I find one I like, I can port to the world directly from the site. Then, if I find a world I enjoy, the site allows me to see other worlds built by that creator. It’s basically the first wiki of the metaverse.

A website like Worlds on VRChat shows why VRChat’s community is arguably the strongest example of a metaverse success story. Not only do they have a history of creators building on the platform, but they also have users building supporting services like Worlds on VRChat. No other metaverse platform has this level of loyalty and dedication from its users.

I also don’t think you can be bullish on the metaverse and not pay attention to VRChat. They’ve shown us a grown-up version of Roblox where adults are actually socializing in the metaverse.

It’s crucial to observe what’s already working elsewhere in the metaverse.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching Worlds on VRChat, sorting by the most visited worlds and studying the successful metaverse world builders. I’m trying to understand what themes, experiences, and emotions the successful worlds tap into, so that I can alter my own world-building endeavors.