Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Games as Escapism

Games have probably overtaken more traditional forms of escapism, such as film, plays and music as they seem to encompass all of these into one, as well as adding interaction. I think the main reason for this is games tell a story that you can actively participate in, they transport you to another reality and tell you a story, making some more engaging than reading a book or watching a movie.
When looking at games as a form of escapism, there are two branches, the more traditional form of telling a story and playing it out, and simulation games. I see simulation games as the ultimate form of escapism, especially massively multiplayer online games (MMO’s) such as World of Warcraft, Second Life and Diablo. These introduce a complete level playing field where players can interact with each other from all around the world. When playing an online game, stigmas that affect everyone in real life, looks, wealth, beliefs, all become meaningless.
I think people play games and see them as an escape because they see these alternate realities as “fair” something that real life ultimately isn’t. The essence of randomness is pretty much removed from games giving them an air of fairness, the events are programmed to happen, where as in real life you could go to the shops and be hit by a bus, which is hardly fair. People play a games to achieve a goal, goals are much more realistic in games, given enough time you will achieve what you set out to do. Life is the opposite. You could work and try your entire life to reach a goal that you may never achieve, due to the lack of ‘fairness’ and the randomness involved in reality.
Another reason why I think games are the ultimate form of escape is the way they draw you in. Completing an event in a game that is followed by some dramatic score as a recognition of your achievement is lacking from every day life, people want to experience epics event in their lives, but may not have the capacity to do so, making games the perfect way to live out fantasy's.
Despite all the positives of escapism to games, they can also lead to making real life seem much less real. When looking at games such as Call of Duty the issue of terrorism and war is simplified. But that also brings about probably the best part of playing games, you chose what you want to play and what you want to experience, if you don't like it, you play something else more suited to what your looking for.

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