My other life is Epic: Escapism and RPGs
byon 11-20-2011 at 04:01 PM (788 Views)
Ever wonder why people get so wrapped up in a game? What about a good novel? A stellar movie?
Perhaps a better question ought to be asked: Why are we so obsessed with other people’s lives?
Speaking from personal experience, I love me a bit of escapism. I have, for example, always enjoyed adventure lit and sci-fi. Reading through Brian Aldiss’ Helleconia series when I was but a young, impressionable 18 year old is a fond memory. Now that I’m older I am continuing through the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel, the Skystone novels by Jack Whyte, and have a reading list a mile long of other books to catch up on (like Littleg’s favourite Iain M. Banks novels... still have to find out all about the Culture).
That having been said, my love of the adventure has definitely coloured my love of gaming. In particular, I’m a HUGE sucker for anything medieval-fantasy-world inspired. Castlevania, the Elder Scrolls... pretty much any D&D inspired game. One of the first RPGs I ever played was a game called Crystalis for NES, which was actually a Zelda clone. The adventures the little guy went on were so interesting... slaying slimes and diving into graveyards to fight monsters. Amazing! Way more exciting than my own life. When I discovered the mythical world of elves and halflings through The Hobbit, I thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a game where I could run around like Bilbo, use magic rings and cast spells like Gandalf?’ I didn’t know then about the Dungeons and Dragons pen & paper RPGs that were popular at the time. I knew my name was old, and anglo-saxon, and had a meaning with ‘elf’ as part of it. I remember being very little and asking my mother “Are we elves, mom?” My mom said “No. But we can pretend we are...” My mom is a bit of a hippie, and she likes fairy tales herself. We’d literally do things at the park sometimes like make flower crowns and pretend we were elves. It was awesome. Being raised with that sense of imagination and wonder translated naturally into RPGs for me. I used to take my name and pretend I was an elf in a magical world, far from the bullies I dealt with at school, or the teasing I used to get about my height. In one game, I was a beautiful wizard who wore all manner of enchanted gems. In another, a bow-weilding elven ranger with the power to command animals and slay enemies with a single shot.
Whatever I was in-game, I was able, and powerful, and it allowed me to escape whatever stress I was dealing with in my life, and live a different story in my head for a little bit. I was talking to a pothead friend of mine about this once. He asked me why I play RPGs, since they ate up your life like WoW, and were all the same Diablo clones nowadays. I explained to him that it was much like his desire to smoke a joint after a rough day at work. The high I get from creating a character in an Elder Scrolls game, which is the style of RPG I prefer nowadays. Some people dislike the openness of sandbox games like Morrowind, or Skyrim. For me it’s like crack. I explained that I’d say the same for Saints Row, or GTA. You create a person, usually that person represents you in a way, or a certain role you want to portray, and then you get the excitement of living that life through your character, vicariously. It’s a ton of fun. For me, it’s addictive in terms of wanting to play it again and again. And lord knows the epic life of an adventurer slaying dragons and collecting riches was WAY more exciting than the everyday doldrums of my current life: going to school, studying, eating, sleeping, and pooping. And seeing my hubby once every 4 months :P
So yeah, my other life *IS* epic. And I like to escape there once in a while to release my inner Amazon. What of it?