May 29, 2014

[In Defense of Escapism]

I recently came across an essay by Katherine Addison, defending the value of fantasy as a genre and escapism in general, and I think it's relevant to MMORPGs (and RPGs in general) as well:
"The denigration of 'escapism' comes from an implicit belief that it is brave and necessary and heroic to face 'reality,' where 'reality' is grim and dark and nihilistic ('solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,' as that tremendous pessimist Thomas Hobbes puts it), and that if you turn away from that 'reality,' you are a deserter and therefore a coward. 
There are a number of fallacies here. One is the claim to the exclusive right to define 'reality.' Second, if this is an accurate definition of 'reality,' it is a fallacy to believe that it is even possible to desert from the front lines by anything short of suicide. Even if your consumption of fiction takes you away from 'reality' for an hour or two, you’re always going to have to come back. Clearly, if we accept this definition of 'reality,' 'escapism' can only be the most tremendous blessing fiction has to offer."
Read the rest here.

2 comments:

Bhagpuss said...

This reminds me of the habit I used to have of asking anyone who referred, in-game, to things that happened in "real life" just how many lives they had. I got bored of it eventually and anyway that line of thinking ends up with people talking about "meatspace" and none of us wants that...

In the end, though, we all just have the one life and everything in it is equally "real", even our fantasies.

Martin Mumford said...

I've seen far more friends who have used fictional stories as motivation to overcome their own obstacles in the real world than those who have withered away while connected to the matrix of fiction.

I think that anyone who claims that fiction (especially interactive fiction like games) has the power to harm, must also admit that it has the power to help.