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Is World of Warcraft a religion?

Shawn Schuster

Just when you thought you had heard it all, MMO gamers are now being called religious zealots. According to Theo Zijderveld, a grad student at the University of Colorado, gamers who experience online worlds "like World of Warcraft and Second Life" are doing so to transcend their physical bodies and "realize a new identity in cyberspace". This is not exactly news to us, but it's the connection to religion that becomes interesting.

In his 72-page Master's thesis entitled Cyberpilgrims, Zijderveld cites the four dimensions of religion for his cause: community, ethics, culture and emotion. "The community dimension is present in World of Warcraft as well as in Second Life. People are using their avatar online meet other avatars of real people. Avilion is clearly a community of people with the same interest in the fantasy world. The social markers are clear; the rules of how to dress and how to behave are very explicit. Avatars who do not fit in this picture are (sometimes actively) excluded by the community or by the moderators."

At least now your family can't nag you for not going to church enough.

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