Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life

ISBN : 9780199344697

Robert M. Geraci
368 Pages
163 x 241 mm
Pub date
Jul 2014
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Millions of users have taken up residence in virtual worlds, and in those worlds they find opportunities to revisit and rewrite their religious lives. Robert Geraci argues that virtual worlds and video games have become a locus for the satisfaction of religious needs, providing many users with communities, a meaningful experience of history and human activity, and a sense of transcendence. Using interviews, surveys, and his own first-hand experience within the games, Geraci shows how World of Warcraft and Second Life provide participants with the opportunity to rethink what it means to be religious in the contemporary world. Not all participants use virtual worlds for religious purposes, but many online residents use them to rearrange or replace religious practice as designers and users collaborate in the production of a new spiritual marketplace. Using World of Warcraft and Second Life as case studies, this book shows that many residents now use virtual worlds to re-imagine their traditions and work to restore them to authentic sanctity, or else replace religious institutions with virtual communities that provide meaning and purpose to human life. For some online residents, virtual worlds are even keys to a post-human future where technology can help us transcend mortal life. Geraci argues that World of Warcraft and Second Life are virtually sacred because they do religious work. They often do such work without regard for and frequently in conflict with traditional religious institutions and practices; ultimately they participate in our sacred landscape as outsiders, competitors, and collaborators.


Introduction: Real Stories in Virtual Worlds
1) A Cultural Adventure
2) Polite Society
3) A World with Meaning
4) The Flow of Faith Online
5) Another Life for Religion
6) Sacred Second Lives
7) Reassembling Religion
Appendix: On Method in the Study of Virtual Worlds

About the author: 

Robert M. Geraci is Professor in the Department of Religion at Manhattan College. He is the author of Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality and many essays that analyze the ways in which human beings use technology to make the world meaningful. He was the principle investigator on a National Science Foundation grant to study virtual worlds and the recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Award (2012-2013), which allowed him to investigate the intersections of religion and technology at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

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