Virtual Nature

Environmentalism in Two Multi-player Online Games


  • William Sims Bainbridge National Science Foundation



online gaming, nature religion


The newest genre of popular culture, computer supported online gameworlds like World of Warcraft (WoW) and Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), offers fictional environments where people may explore real-world ethical issues. WoW assumes that people are inevitably locked in competition over scarce resources, and therefore cannot come to a consensus to preserve nature. LOTRO, in contrast, suggests that a religious consensus is possible, but it may never be able to triumph completely over evils like pollution. Both of these gameworlds offer environments where people may enjoy social life and achieve social status at lower resource use than in the so-called ‘real world’.


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How to Cite

Bainbridge, W. S. (2010). Virtual Nature: Environmentalism in Two Multi-player Online Games. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 4(3), 135–152.