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By Kenji Hall

Sony's online 3D virtual world, PlayStation Home, is part social network, part multiplayer online game. It's a free download through Sony's PlayStation Network for the roughly 17 million PS3 owners. To make Home look realistic, Sony hired 37-year-old Japanese architect Kenji Ikemoto, who runs Jota Associates in Tokyo. After the architect signed on, Sony's Home team in Tokyo asked that the plaza not be flat. The rest was Ikemoto's call. "They told me: 'Here's a grassy area. Now build something,'" he said.

Ikemoto designed a split-level plaza surrounded by four buildings. It all sits on an island, and in the background, beyond a body of water, is a city located at the foot of a mountain range. In the real world, Home Square would cover 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet). "Everything in Home can actually be built if you spent the money," Ikemoto said. To learn more about the architect of Sony's new virtual world, read on.