Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Escaping the Concept of Escapism

Over on The Githyanki Diaspora there's a brief discussion on gaming as escapism, and since I don't have anything else better to blog about; I thought I would give you my thoughts on the subject.  Now, when I say gaming I use I mean any form of gaming from role playing, wargaming, or even boardgames.  I use it in kind of a generic way I guess.

Merriam Webster defines escapism : habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.

The way I see it, role playing isn't a purely imaginary activity.  Yes, it requires imagination, but it usually requires other people.  If it was purely imaginary then you could sit in your room, with the gaming books, dice, miniatures, or other people and imagine that your someone else to your hearts content.  You could, if you wanted, always succeed, always prevail, you could be the Eternal Hero or Heroine.  You could do that, and call it role playing, but is it really role playing?

Of course the definition also says it's a habitual diversion of the mind, and I don't know many gamers who game all the time.  It would be nice, but it would probably get boring after a while.  Maybe some people think about it a lot, but don't other people think about their recreational activities in the same way? 

I don't even consider it an escape from reality.  Maybe to some small extent an escape from routine, but that's about as far as I would go.

I don't consider any aspect of the gaming hobby as a form of escapism. Maybe that's how it is for some people, but not me.  At the very least, it's more of a temporary reprieve from normal life. A chance to kick back, and have fun.  A time to exercise your imagination, and interact with other people.  Is that escapism?  I think not...

Is gaming really any different from other activities people engage in for recreation?  Zoning out in front of the television seems to be more of a form of escapism than gaming.  Going to a bar, and drinking, seems to be more of a form of escapism than gaming.  Reading a book is a form of escapism.  I find gaming to be anything but escapism.

Gaming, for the most part, is a very active form of recreation.  You have to THINK, you have to be creative, well maybe you don't have to be creative, but it helps.  You're more involved with other people, and in a way that's probably much different than many social activities.  There are many hobbies, but I don't think many hold a candle to the gaming hobby.

How many of you out there consider gaming to be escapism?


  1. I agree in that participating in a role-playing session requires far too much active cognition to be escapist. The participants all have to be engaged and enthusiastic. It's a far cry from just zoning out in front of the tube.

  2. Gaming is no different than other hobbies, from knitting to sports. People spend plenty more time wasting their lives infront of TVs.

    The key word in the definition of escapism is "habitual". This is the same word for addicts. In the negative context, this usually refers to situations where it affects your normal life. For example, someone who doesn't sleep enough to be productive during the day, and spends their time at work/school thinking about gaming, who then gets fired/fails.