eGods: Faith Versus Fantasy in Computer Gaming

William Sims Bainbridge. Oxford Univ., $24.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-19-993583-3
In the last decade, video games have received increasing visibility and entered mainstream culture. Bainbridge, a sociologist of religion, participated in the enormous changes occurring in the video game world during this period by presenting an ethnography of religions in virtual online worlds. Using his in-depth research on massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, Bainbridge examines the use of deities, souls, quests, and other religious entities and concepts in video game narratives, arguing that such stories and playing mechanics (the technical framework of a game) constitute a medium through which players situate themselves in relation to contemporary religion. Bainbridge, who played the games to research them, endowed his blank MMORPG avatars with history and personality to emphasize the connections between the role-playing done in video games and in the real world. Though sometimes it is easy to stumble on the sheer amount of technical detail that Bainbridge provides, this admirable project legitimizes video games not only as a storytelling medium for entertainment, but also as reflections of history and modern culture to be critically analyzed. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/11/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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Hardcover - 328 pages - 978-0-19-993581-9
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