NPC MEMORIALS AND SCROLLS OF ‘RAISE DEAD’: MORTALITY AND LIMINAL TRANSITIONS IN THE TEXT-BASED ROLE-PLAY OF NEVERWINTER NIGHTS AND GUILD WARS 2
Andrew, Kimberly Dawn
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Rites of passage are culturally prescribed rituals which transpire outside of ordinary space and time, used to deliver participants from one stable social identity to the next. When performed in the persistent virtual worlds of online roleplaying games – specifically within the fantasy settings of Neverwinter Nights and Guild Wars 2 – rites of passage such as coming of age, initiation, marriage, childbirth, retirement, and mortuary ritual expose the values and tensions of participants, reinforce social ties, and defend the meaning of communally composed mythic narratives. These rites of passage fulfill the selfsame function of delivering participants from ambiguity to aggregation which Victor Turner (1995 c1969) and Arnold van Gennep (1960 c1906) have established in their studies of “real world” rites of passage while providing participants with new myths to live by in a similar capacity to the movie industry which Lee Drummond describes in American Dreamtime (1996).