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I got to play video games for 15 weeks one semester -- and I got credit for it! But the course I took was a bit more sophisticated than a round of Mario Kart -- and that’s an understatement. It was actually a fascinating, mind-boggling class called Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality.

In every class we explored the digital universe -- for example, by playing in the world of...

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PlayStation III and computer games aren’t common in most classrooms or on most syllabi. But in assistant professor Rachel Wagner’s Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality course, which was offered for the first time in spring 2008, these games are essential to the class’s research and are used to facilitate class discussions. 

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Rachel Wagner, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, began teaching at Ithaca College last August. She is currently conducting research (in collaboration with Kim Gregson of the Park School and television- radio grad Austra Zubkovs ‘07) on religious ritual in Second Life, a virtual world entirely created by its users.

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