Decentraland for Beginners: How to Get Started in Decentraland

You may have heard of Decentraland, and you might know it calls itself "the first-ever virtual world owned by its users." But where do you start?
Updated Aug 23, 2022 at 2:42 p.m. UTC
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Benedict George is a freelance writer for CoinDesk. He has worked as a reporter on European oil markets since 2019 at Argus Media and his work has appeared in BreakerMag, MoneyWeek and The Sunday Times. He does not hold any cryptocurrency.

If you’re looking to visit Decentraland for the first time, the first thing you’ll need to do is navigate to the official website and click "Start Exploring" in the top right-hand corner. Connect a crypto wallet that you already own, or just enter as a guest.

You will need to do this on a desktop, as Decentraland is not yet supported on mobile devices.

Avatar creation

Now comes your first chance to get creative and relive your childhood on Sims by constructing an image of a human to serve as your avatar: your personal emissary in the virtual world.

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Avatar creation (Decentraland.org)

When you eventually get bored of mixing and matching mustaches and tiaras (you can and should give your character an eye patch), you just have to pick a name and you’re good to go.

Remember, you can always change your appearance inside the game by going to the start menu and looking in your backpack. So don’t worry about your shoe color too much.

You will start in the Genesis Plaza – a kind of town square. You will be surrounded straightaway by other people’s avatars, but don’t panic. A floating mentor named Alice will jump in and start offering you advice on how best to begin your journey through the virtual world.

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Decentraland virtual world (Decentraland.org)

Keyboard controls in Decentraland

The system is very familiar to most computer-based games:

  • Direct your gaze using the mouse.
  • Move around using the arrows or W-A-S-D keys.
  • Press V to switch between first and third-person views.
  • Space to jump.
  • If you are not familiar, or you forget any controls, just press C to bring up a reminder of them.
  • You can start talking to other users through the chat function, or by pressing T and talking into your microphone.

Now you have an avatar to do your bidding in Decentraland and you’re ready to start making waves.

But what waves should you make? And how? Here are some tips to keep you going.

What to do in Decentraland

The two central elements of Decentraland are LAND and MANA. LAND is the name of the non-fungible asset associated with the virtual space in the environment you are now exploring.

When you buy a "parcel" of LAND, you acquire a specific bit of the virtual environment. It has coordinates to identify it. You can take your avatar there. You can build virtual things on it. You can link it up with other users’ parcels to create "districts" and collaboratively create structures or experiences. In theory, the value of the parcels should go up as more users join the platform: The number of parcels is fixed at 90,000.

How do you buy LAND?

Purchasing LAND on Decentraland requires MANA – the native cryptocurrency of Decentraland.

The general idea is to acquire MANA through various means and then go to the marketplace and use your MANA to buy things.

The easiest way to get MANA is to buy it. Go to your profile, click the plus symbol, and you can either buy MANA using traditional currency or by swapping another cryptocurrency for it.

You’ll find you can buy MANA on the Ethereum or the Polygon blockchain – which is simpler than it sounds. Decentraland was built on Ethereum, but it has been integrating with the Polygon chain because of major potential savings on transaction costs. You can move any MANA from Ethereum to Polygon at any time.

The next easiest way to get MANA is through play-to-earn games. There are casinos within the virtual Decentraland environment as well as mini-games. There are even quests, too. If you don’t want to sink any of your money into Decentraland, you can invest your time instead.

Perhaps the most difficult way to earn MANA is by seriously working for it. If you have the right skill set, you can offer your services to other users in return for a wage paid in MANA. Or you can design assets to sell in the marketplace yourself, although you do need to put down a small amount of MANA in the first place to be able to do that.

Buy and sell items in the Decentraland marketplace

Once you have some MANA, you’ll need to go to the official Decentraland marketplace. Here you can buy LAND.

If you’ve heard of people making money through Decentraland, this is probably how they did it: by flipping parcels of LAND. If you’re clever and/or lucky, you’ll get hold of parcels of land that are in favorable locations and become increasingly more valuable over time. If you’re successful, you can sell up, lock in a profit and try to repeat the process again.

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Decentraland marketplace (Decentraland.org)

It’s not only LAND that you can buy in the marketplace. There is all manner of collectibles on offer too, all hitched to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These are endlessly tradable, just like the LAND. That means potential profit – but only if you select desirable ones.

You can access the map through the start menu (top right corner) at any time, and you can click anywhere to teleport there instantly. There are nine plazas in total. The center of the Genesis Plaza has coordinates 0,0 and every other location is defined in relation to that.

You’ll see all kinds of things on the map such as "Dinosaur Hunt," "Fantasy World of Endless Time" and "Crypto Valley Art Gallery." Go explore!

This article was originally published on Apr 6, 2022 at 2:12 p.m. UTC

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Benedict George is a freelance writer for CoinDesk. He has worked as a reporter on European oil markets since 2019 at Argus Media and his work has appeared in BreakerMag, MoneyWeek and The Sunday Times. He does not hold any cryptocurrency.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Benedict George is a freelance writer for CoinDesk. He has worked as a reporter on European oil markets since 2019 at Argus Media and his work has appeared in BreakerMag, MoneyWeek and The Sunday Times. He does not hold any cryptocurrency.


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