Monday, 9 May 2011

The Great Escape

I've written before about escapism on more than one occasion. Suffice to say (for those who can't be bothered clicking links or opening new tabs) I'm one of those people who thinks that escapism is one of the most noble of human pursuits, perhaps the noblest of all, and it should be trumpeted to the heavens as one of the finest features of the hobby which you and I enjoy. The fact that 'escapism' is treated as a dirty word by the intellectual elites in our societies is rather a sad indictment of prevailing sentiments of the age.

This is why, generally speaking, I think that fantasy and SF are the genres which gamers tend to love. At the moment I'm running a quasi-historical gonzo-horror affair and it's nice - nothing to complain about - but I've found a certain sense of malaise setting in when I sit down to plan the next session. The real world is a wonderful place, but there is something lacking when using it as the basis for an RPG campaign; the creativity that goes into that process feels impure somehow, and pales in comparison to the flights of fancy the imagination can go on when unrestrained by "reality".

I believe this is the real reason for the prevailing popularity of familiar brands such as D&D, Traveller, and the like. Escaping to Timbuktu is all well and good, but escaping to Waterdeep or the Planet Zong is better; why have cotton when you can have silk?


  1. I'm all for healthy escapism and I agree it's one of the better features of the hobby. Sometimes quasi-historical campaigns are fun because of the sense of familiarity they can create. However I can relate with the general sense of malaise that could creep into the game. But, to be honest that can happen with any setting. Thanks for the post.

  2. Totally know what you mean about the slightly dull edge of settings which are closer to the real world than far-out fantasy or sci-fi. I'd never really thought about it before, but I think that's actually the reason why I've never been particularly attracted to playing genres like cyberpunk, "modern" (even including vampires ;), historical, and so on.

  3. Agreed. I never had much interest in playing in a strictly historical setting, unless we're talking strategic war games.