Virtually religious: myth, ritual and community in World of Warcraft

Vallikatt, J 2014, Virtually religious: myth, ritual and community in World of Warcraft, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Virtually religious: myth, ritual and community in World of Warcraft
Author(s) Vallikatt, J
Year 2014
Abstract In an age dominated by media, religion has been assumed to be resurging, albeit in different forms. This study hypothesises that the massively multiplayer online role-playing (MMORPG) video game World of Warcraft, with its powerful ludic, narrative and fantasy features, is a significant aspect of cultural changes, including the religious. Within the framework of a functional definition of religion, this study uses textual analysis to investigate the place of the traditionally identified three major elements of religion namely, myth, ritual and community in constructing what may be understood as a cohesive religious environment in World of Warcraft. The textual data is supplemented by an exploration of the game-playing experiences and religious perspectives of players of World of Warcraft in India and gives added richness to the text. From a cultural perspective, the study identifies how a postmodern generation can construct meaning from virtual worlds like World of Warcraft that transcends some mundane aspects of their life. The study proposes a fresh outlook into how social researchers can look at notions such as religion, whose central ideas revolve around the metaphysical and super-natural, by exploring the boundaries of actual and virtual, of seriousness and play, and of sacred and secular within a technologically constructed fantasy digital game. Further, it explores whether the gamers themselves – individually or collectively – see the MMORPG environment of WoW as having religious characteristics that contribute to their search for transcendence and meaning. Finally, the study considers the implications this has for thinking about the relationship between new media and changes in social religiosity and the re-culturation of religion in a postmodern media context.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) MMORPG
Video Games
Media-Religion-Culture
World of Warcraft
Vallikatt
games and religion
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Created: Fri, 05 Sep 2014, 16:19:48 EST by Maria Lombardo
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