It was through such a recommendation that I came across the (now defunct) blog Enter the Octopus, what seems to have been a general grab bag of geek miscellania. This entry caught my interest; in particular this quote, which seems to have been cited with approval:
"Populated with cross-bred elves and dwarves, fantasy realms make people feel not quite so freakish, releasing them from their cages of identity. Playing half- or non-human characters can be an exploration of their freak side, a new door into themselves..."
pp. 56-57, Chapter Four, "Into the Dungeon Again"
Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, by Ethan Gilsdorf.
Mainly because it seems like cod arm-chair psychology of the most banal kind. (You'll notice it's also self-contradictory - either fantasy realms make people feel less freakish or they help people explore their freakish side; which is it?)
I never think of fantasy gaming in that vein, and know very few people who do. Gaming is fun for a lot of reasons, but for me it has never ever been about making me feel "not so freakish", releasing me from my "cage of identity" or allowing me to explore my "freak side". I can do all that with beer. Maybe absinthe if I really want to explore my freak side.
Gaming for me is about two things: playing a game, socialising and stretching your imagination. All fun and worthy endeavours, especially when mixed. And there's nothing much more complicated to it than that.