In "The Cybercities Reader (Urban Reader)" (Steve Graham), there is a wonderful text by Anne Beamish called "The City in Cyberspace" which tackles the city metaphor in "virtual worlds" and how superficial the metaphor is often taken.
Some excerpts I found relevant to my interests:
"What do these digital worlds [Alphaworld represented above, Planet9, Le Deuxieme Monde, Virtual Los Angeles] tell us about the creators' image of the city? When digital urban environments are designed, the downtown is often seen as the Holy Grailv - the vivid, exciting, teasing, tantalizing city is held up within sight, but out of reach. The image of the city is used to attract us and to draw us into the world, but it functions mainly as a decoration or marketing technique intended to get the customer in the door. The creators of these virtual worlds appear to take the image of the city literally but superficially, and they generally do not seem to have given much thought to what it is about a city that their visitors would find appealing. They use the image of the city liberally but strip it of meaning. (...) Too often, rather than mimicking the vitality and excitement of downtown, the digital environment is disconcertingly desolate and empty; the buildings are blandly modern; and it is common to travel around these worlds without meeting another soul.
To be fair, though, the crude and simplistic environment is not always a reflection of the creator's aesthetic taste; it is also a reflection and result of technology, economics and regulation."
Why do I blog this Working on both fields of video games and urban computing, I find interesting to observe the relationship between the image of the city and its physical counterpart. For that matter, it seems that some progress are attempted especially with games such as GTA IV. The representation of the city in entertainment is surely interesting as a sort of artifacts to depict "possible futures" which are of course very culturally-situated.