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What is the relationship between religion and multi-player online roleplaying games? Are such games simply a secular distraction from traditional religious practices, or do they in fact offer a different route to the sacred? In eGods, a leading scholar in the study of virtual gameworlds takes an in-depth look at the fantasy religions of 41 games and arrives at some surprisi What is the relationship between religion and multi-player online roleplaying games? Are such games simply a secular distraction from traditional religious practices, or do they in fact offer a different route to the sacred? In eGods, a leading scholar in the study of virtual gameworlds takes an in-depth look at the fantasy religions of 41 games and arrives at some surprising conclusions. William Sims Bainbridge investigates all aspects of the gameworlds' religious dimensions: the focus on sacred spaces; the prevalence of magic; the fostering of a tribal morality by both religion and rules programmed into the game; the rise of cults and belief systems within the gameworlds (and how this relates to cults in the real world); the predominance of polytheism; and, of course, how gameworld religions depict death. As avatars are multiple and immortal, death is merely a minor setback in most games. Nevertheless, much of the action in some gameworlds centers on the issue of mortality and the problematic nature of resurrection. Examining EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and many others, Bainbridge contends that gameworlds offer a new perspective on the human quest, one that combines the arts, simulates many aspects of real life, and provides meaningful narratives about achieving goals by overcoming obstacles. Indeed, Bainbridge suggests that such games take us back to those ancient nights around the fire, when shadows flickered and it was easy to imagine the monsters conjured by the storyteller lurking in the forest. Arguing that gameworlds reintroduce a curvilinear model of early religion, where today as in ancient times faith is inseparable from fantasy, eGods shows how the newest secular technology returns us to the very origins of religion so that we might "arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."


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What is the relationship between religion and multi-player online roleplaying games? Are such games simply a secular distraction from traditional religious practices, or do they in fact offer a different route to the sacred? In eGods, a leading scholar in the study of virtual gameworlds takes an in-depth look at the fantasy religions of 41 games and arrives at some surprisi What is the relationship between religion and multi-player online roleplaying games? Are such games simply a secular distraction from traditional religious practices, or do they in fact offer a different route to the sacred? In eGods, a leading scholar in the study of virtual gameworlds takes an in-depth look at the fantasy religions of 41 games and arrives at some surprising conclusions. William Sims Bainbridge investigates all aspects of the gameworlds' religious dimensions: the focus on sacred spaces; the prevalence of magic; the fostering of a tribal morality by both religion and rules programmed into the game; the rise of cults and belief systems within the gameworlds (and how this relates to cults in the real world); the predominance of polytheism; and, of course, how gameworld religions depict death. As avatars are multiple and immortal, death is merely a minor setback in most games. Nevertheless, much of the action in some gameworlds centers on the issue of mortality and the problematic nature of resurrection. Examining EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and many others, Bainbridge contends that gameworlds offer a new perspective on the human quest, one that combines the arts, simulates many aspects of real life, and provides meaningful narratives about achieving goals by overcoming obstacles. Indeed, Bainbridge suggests that such games take us back to those ancient nights around the fire, when shadows flickered and it was easy to imagine the monsters conjured by the storyteller lurking in the forest. Arguing that gameworlds reintroduce a curvilinear model of early religion, where today as in ancient times faith is inseparable from fantasy, eGods shows how the newest secular technology returns us to the very origins of religion so that we might "arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

35 review for eGods: Faith Versus Fantasy in Computer Gaming

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    I really, really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't even make it all the way through. The basic argument of the book -- that online gaming is, for many players, fulfilling a similar function to participants in religious traditions, is reasonable enough. Unfortunately, its execution is nearly unreadable. For one thing, the author (whose blurb calls him "a noted sociologist of religion") throws around phrases like "religion evolved because" and "false superstition" in a manner unlike any sch I really, really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't even make it all the way through. The basic argument of the book -- that online gaming is, for many players, fulfilling a similar function to participants in religious traditions, is reasonable enough. Unfortunately, its execution is nearly unreadable. For one thing, the author (whose blurb calls him "a noted sociologist of religion") throws around phrases like "religion evolved because" and "false superstition" in a manner unlike any scholar of religion I've ever encountered, or at least any scholar of religion since, say, the 1930s. I also have to wonder where OUP's editor was in this process -- each chapter seems to feature pages-long digressions that are tied to the supposed argument of the chapter by only the thinnest of threads. It is telling, I think, that unlike many academic works in the field, this one features no acknowledgments section thanking colleagues and reviewers who read drafts and contributed to workshopping the book. So disappointing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Villu

  3. 4 out of 5

    SCOTT H SETTLEMIER

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Pine

  5. 5 out of 5

    Artem Zhizhin

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jaffu Jakku

  7. 5 out of 5

    A. David Lewis

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rose

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Koch

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephane

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sir Michael Röhm

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  14. 4 out of 5

    Darla

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wolf

  18. 5 out of 5

    Clackamas

  19. 4 out of 5

    阿睿

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Kruskal

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wally

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lance Bahr

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Hewitt

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Kirschner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Dowd

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jay V.

  32. 5 out of 5

    Mister Cat

  33. 5 out of 5

    Ratatoskr

  34. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Griliopoulos

  35. 4 out of 5

    Hadi Hendrawan

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