Chapter

Enchantment, Inc.: Online Gaming Between Spiritual Experience and Commodity Fetishism

Stef Aupers

in Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239450
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239498 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.003.0020

Series: Future of the Religious Past (FUP)

Enchantment, Inc.: Online Gaming Between Spiritual Experience and Commodity Fetishism

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This chapter discusses the popular genre of online computer games rooted in the “fantasy” genre (Tolkien in particular) and exemplified by World of Warcraft. His analysis, as we have seen, leads to a critique of Weber's theory of the “disenchantment of the world,” according to which religious belief increasingly evaporates as a viable option, so that enchantment is progressively relegated to the realm of fiction (the worlds of poetry, literature, television, and, more recently, computer games). Now that a massive epistemological shift has taken place from “religious belief” to “spiritual experience,” it is argued, this theory no longer holds: these computer games open up opportunities for spiritual engagement with fantasy fiction that go well beyond Coleridge's notion of a “willing suspension of disbelief.”

Keywords: Online computer games; Fantasy; Tolkien; World of Warcraft; “Willing suspension of disbelief” (Coleridge); Max Weber; Disenchantment; Enchantment; Religious belief; Spiritual experience

Chapter.  8234 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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