Massively Multi-Agent Simulations of Religion

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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Abstract

Massively multiplayer online (MMO) games are not merely electronic communication systems based on computational databases, but also include artificial intelligence that possesses complex, dynamic structure. Each visible action taken by a component of the multi-agent system appears simple, but is supported by vastly more sophisticated invisible processes. A rough outline of the typical hierarchy has four levels: (1) interaction between two individuals, each either human or artificial, (2) conflict between teams of agents who cooperate with fellow team members, (3) enduring social-cultural groups that seek to accomplish shared goals, and (4) large-scale cultural traditions, often separated into virtual geographic regions. In many MMOs, both magic and religion are represented, in ways that harmonize with a social-scientific theory that defines them in terms of specific versus general psychological compensators. This article draws empirical examples from five diverse MMOs: Dark Age of Camelot, Dungeons and Dragons Online, World of Warcraft, A Tale in the Desert and Gods and Heroes.

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