• Rituals and Symbols in Virtual Worlds

    Here is a session proposal from Sonja Sapach:

    In preparation for my thesis, I am studying the nature of ritual and symbols in virtual worlds – with a focus on the Durkheimian understanding of the creation of social solidarity through participation in ritual activities.

    I am interested in the typologies of persistent symbols from video games that can lead to solidarity in the “real world”. I would like to brainstorm to come up with mutually “sacred” symbols from video games – a good example would be the Horde crest from World of Warcraft.

    I am also interested in the festival-type nature of participation in virtual worlds – the ways in which we don masks (avatars) that alter our “real world” status and allow us to play freely with others whose real identities are hidden. In what ways do we change the way we perform socially when we are immersed in a virtual world? How does embodied (real) co-presence differ from virtual co-presence?

    Finally, I am interested in specific rituals performed both in-game and in the real world. This involves anecdotal sharing more than anything. How do you orient yourself in the real world before and during a gaming session? Are there rituals you follow in the game itself? (For example, whenever I log on to WoW, I follow a fairly strict ritual of checking the mailbox, reorienting myself to my inventory, ensuring that my skills are correctly hotkeyed, greeting online guildies, etc.)

    The discussion does not have to be specific to these ideas however, as I am still in the exploration stage, and would appreciate a diverse discussion on rituals in gaming in general.

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