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ritual, community, emotion, MMORPG, virtual worlds


Millions of people worldwide immerse themselves in massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). These games generate large, diverse communities that engage in rituals within the game, completing missions or quests. What role do these MMORPG rituals play in commitment to these gaming communities? To address this question, we extend structural ritualization theory to explain the impact of ritual events and emotion on commitment to community in the game World of Warcraft. Our findings suggest that players focused on inanimate resources are less committed than players who focus on social aspects of the ritual events inside the game. We also find that emotional investment is a good predictor of commitment to community.


This work was originally published as:

Simpson, J. M., Knottnerus, J. D., & Stern, M. J. (2018). Virtual Rituals: Community, Emotion, and Ritual in Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games—A Quantitative Test and Extension of Structural Ritualization Theory. Socius.

Creative Commons Attribution, Non Commercial 4.0 License

Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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