Escapism and Introspection


This was going to be another one of those posts where I try to take a serious look at things people don’t bother to take seriously. That I’m walking into this knowing that I’m not going to get much of a response actually just feeds into the point that I want to make. In the tabletop roleplaying hobby… or industry… or whatever this niche of a thing is, we talk a lot about the value of escapism. There is rarely any talk about introspection, and certainly no mentions of escapism and introspection in the same conversation. The former is fun! The latter sounds like a total bummer! We don’t want to be left alone with our thoughts so please, please entertain us!

There are always arguments as to whether games qualify as art. Video games, board games, roleplaying games. I’m not wading into that, other than to note that there are points to be made for and against. What I will say is that almost all other art forms have an element of introspection. The creator is sharing an experience they’ve had, an emotion they’re keyed in to, an opinion about something. Whether it’s a novel, a movie, a song, we connect with the piece because there’s something deeper to connect to.

Escapism and Introspection

By this point in the post I feel like most readers have stopped reading and moved on. Games are just fun! Stop trying to make them into something they’re not! Don’t ruin things by over-analyzing them! Escapism is just escapism, get over it!

I think that what we choose to escape to matters. There are reasons we take comfort in fantasy, or horror, or whatever genre we play in. A whole range of reasons why certain tropes resonate with us exist. Even the mechanics we prefer can scratch our need for control, or creativity, or chaos. It’s a place to get away, sure, but can also be a place to put the things we don’t know what else to do with.

We incorporate the things we’re escaping from into our games as well. It’s cathartic. That monster that talks and acts like your boss. The faction that’s based on a real-world group that annoys you. We’ve all thrown that stuff in for laughs. I think we need to acknowledge the power in that. Games can be helpful. They allow us to function. It’s not just a function of escapism.

one response for Escapism and Introspection

  1. Lon Sarver says:

    I agree, what we escape into matters, and making an intentional choice can help maximize what we get from our escape.

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