Wagner, Rachel. Godwired: Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality

By Soukup, Paul A. | Communication Research Trends, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Wagner, Rachel. Godwired: Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality


Soukup, Paul A., Communication Research Trends


Wagner, Rachel. Godwired: Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. Pp. vi, 266. ISBN 978-0-415-78144-2 (cloth) $130.00; 978-0-415-78145-9 (paper) $39.95; 978-0203-14807-5 (e-book), pricing available from publisher.

As more people spend more time with their computers, either online or engaging in local exploration or play, they increasingly touch on matters of religion. The Internet has captured those with religious interests, just as it has captured others. But computing and the Internet also seem to have a religious aspect. Some people seek it directly, searching out various online religious sites or using the Internet to supplement information about their religious traditions. others--and a growing group--engage in religious-like virtual activities. This group forms the core of Rachel Wagner's interest in Godwired. More particularly, she investigates video games, the players of such games, and the elements of the games. "Godwired addresses this rich relationship between religion and 'virtual reality' (which I define as any form of digital technology that involves user engagement with software via a screen interface)" (p. 1). Such virtual reality involves "world-building" or "the imagining of a world in which we are in control, in which things make sense, in which what we do has profound meaning, and in which we can enact our ideal selves" (p. 2). And these characteristics, she argues, mirror or imitate or form part of the religious imagination.

In many ways, Godwired rests on an extended analogy: that the virtual reality of video games resembles religious activities. The virtual reality and the games involve narratives, ritual, a sense of the Other, a construction or discovery of identity, community, good and evil, and other aspects that religious activities share. While always thought-provoking, Wagner sometimes seems to take the analogy beyond its initial claim. When she argues that games resemble religion, she also tends to accept that religion is like games, that the two become identical. That challenging claim finds some support, though at times this support appears ambiguous.

Wagner approaches each of her chapters in a similar way. After introducing the theme (narrative, say), she offers a general introduction in which she defines key terms and sets out questions. And, in a very valuable contribution to the overall discussion, she creates a kind of dialogue among the writers and researchers who have explored the topic, allowing their work to come into contact. By doing this she identifies areas of agreement and, perhaps more importantly, areas that the virtual worlds of gaming may call into question.

The chapter on narrative identifies authority--the authority of the text and the authoritative interpretations--as important in how people interact with narrative, whether biblical narrative or the narrative world of games. By making narratives into games, Wagner can then point out five different ways of thinking about stories: "(1) stories as games; (2) stories as fate; (3) stories as potential narratives; (4) stories as catharsis; and (5) stories as interactive systems" (p. 27). For each, she introduces theorists and practices.

Wagner then turns to ritual--for games do indeed involve ritual practices. After a brief history of gaming, she presents five similarities between games and stories: interactivity, play, rules, narratives, and conflict. These five categories then provide the framework in which we meet the various theories of ritual, each of which Wagner tests against the virtual world of gaming. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Wagner, Rachel. Godwired: Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.