Anthropologist Believes World Of Warcraft Is A Religion

Cognitive anthropologist, Ryan Hornbeck, recently wrote a rather large dissertation on moral cognition and spiritual experiences in Chinese WoW, after studying how players use the game to escape social issues and conditions they deal with on a daily basis.

According to an article on Kill Screen Daily, one of the players Hornbeck spoke with stated:

WoW is more than recreation or entertainment to the players. It’s more like a conveyor belt of spirit that releases the bonds of the real world. The addition to the game comes from the wanting of a good life, just like the Christians overcome the difficulties by their own wills under the guidance of God.

In this case, Kill Screen speculates that Blizzard is “God”.

Hornbeck’s dissertation goes on to discuss how certain facets of WoW relate to Chinese religious traditions, and how the game helps players fill their spiritual space.

To read the full article, be sure to follow the link above.


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  • Talal

    well if it’s a religion , its a pretty Decent one considering there is no Killing in it’s name… at least not in the real word.

    • James Hoover


      • ReAlIzEr


    • Dularr

      Did you miss all the articles about video games causing violent behavior in real life.

      • Nox

        Did you miss all the Wars in name of some god in real life.

  • Jason Jenkins

    Dude…its just a game.

  • DerKomp

    That’s insulting to Christianity. It may seem like “escapism” to him, but to many of us, it assigns more purpose to real life, real experiences, and real decisions.

    • Neocon

      Christanity deserves to be insulted.

      • Prevbean

        Your face deserves to be insulted.

        • Jor-el Martinez

          what happened to turning the other cheek? are you guys really Christians or butthurt wannabes.

          • Luis A. Pérez

            Not supposed to eat shellfish, touch pigskin, or wear clothes of two types of fiber. If you’re using one of these really old books as the manual how you live your life you’re going to be doing it À la carte. Look at what “real” Christians have been doing through history and it varies from burning witches, to feeding the poor, to kicking your gay kid out of the house, to working alongside the civil rights movement. The word “Christian” doesn’t seem to have a moral indicator.

      • Ixtyr

        Regardless of what you believe of his original comment, this has to be one of the most ignorant posts I’ve seen in a long time. And it blows my mind that people have upvoted you so much. That’s just sad.

        • Dularr

          If you haven’t figured it out, online communities have a massive hate for Christianity.

          • Ixtyr

            Oh, I know. But that doesn’t really change the point, in my opinion.

          • Luis A. Pérez

            Just for clarity, what point are you talking about?

          • Luis A. Pérez

            Why would anyone hate a religion that says you’re going to be tortured for eternity for not believing?

      • Dularr

        I forgive you. Please find something within your life that will fulfill that hole in your being.

        • Luis A. Pérez

          I think we all have holes that need filling.

    • Dularr

      Yeah, the author failed to meet the mark trying to tie in organized religion into the discussion.

      Seem the study is about Chinese students spending all there time in school, then turning to video games to meet spiritual needs.

      It really seems to be all about balance, showing how the Chinese students were spending all their time in school, ignoring other aspects of their being.

    • Luis A. Pérez

      Believing that you are immortal and that all your wrongs can be forgiven by a 3rd party instead of dealing with it’s real world consequences and actual victims seems like escapism to me.

  • ReAlIzEr

    Google: “Religion” – is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.”

    Aside from the fact that religion is just another name for community (etc word play), if you call it christianity, spiritualism or WoW, its all the same and believe what you want, (a distraction). If, as a world, we decided to call all known religions BOB, then BOB would be our world wide religion. And BOB would be my God. For BOB as a religion needs a BOB for all worshipper to BOB to.

    That aside, its just a great way to loose yourself from your worries and Blizzard has done a fine job of providing that entertainment because they listen to the “community” (get it – from above). I would not bluster their egos by calling them “God” because (if you really think about it) we are all god(s).

    Chew on that awhile, bite on it hard and call me a liar. If you can’t look in the mirror and realize you are the god of your own destiny (your / self), then you need to go read some self help books – the ones with the tapes and I need to read some grammar books, the ones with commas.

    And while you are at it chew on this – if I eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ doesn’t that make you a cannibal and a God? Eat that ambrosia fatty, enjoy it, love it hard.
    LOL at all things human.

  • Martino

    Is it April Fools Day or something? They’ll be telling us Angry Birds is a philosophy for life next.

  • Dularr

    What was funny, in the original article he personally talks about fellowship found in a group of friends or community as found at The Burning Man. Both, which fully support World of Warcraft. WoW is all about running end game content with your friends. But the ideas of new expansions, massive patches, multi-tier raids and Arena PvP bring your friends back together is right on the mark.

    For the spirituality aspect, he seem to focus on the China market. Where they spend a massive amount of time in school, but seem to yearn for something more, something spiritual, with many of the China students turning to online video games to meet that spiritual need.

  • J