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An Ethnography of MMORPG Weddings

About 10% of male players and 33% of female players have married online. About 1% of male players and 10% of female players have married online more than once.

Most MMORPG players feel that getting married online is silly. Male players were more likely than female players to feel that getting married online is silly.

Part of why so many people think MMORPG weddings are silly is that they feel it is meant as a counterpart or parallel of a real world wedding, as if the digital wedding is trying to accomplish what a real world wedding does Ė a commitment between a man and a woman that leads to the beginning of a family. In this sense, of course the digital wedding is silly, but thatís not what the virtual wedding is supposed to do. A virtual wedding isnít an attempt to hi-jack a real life ritual as much as it is a ritual that has evolved and taken on its own significance in a virtual world. In the same way that words and dialect take on their own cultural meaning and bestow cultural identity on its speakers, a virtual wedding is a cultural phenomenon that establishes a kind of digital identity for these virtual communities.

In fact, as the following stories demonstrate, a virtual wedding is a combination of social entertainment, extensive role-playing and sometimes political intrigue. Instead of thinking of a virtual wedding as the corrupt bastard child of a real world contractual agreement, the virtual wedding should be considered as an elaborate form of collaborative digital story-telling Ė a ritual of its own right that fulfills a completely different purpose.

 
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