Gaming: Active Escapism

By Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)

The release of Netflix’s ‘Bandersnatch’, an interactive TV show where users choose their own journey was seen as a revelation for TV viewing, turning a passive form of entertainment into an active adventure that anyone could join. 

It’s pretty cool really, but let’s just stop for a minute and point out the obvious: interactive forms of entertainment existed long before ‘choose your own journey’ television shows. In this case, I’m not referring to the choose your own adventure books that we all loved as kids (turn to page 42 for an example…), but of course, video games!

Video games are the perfect example of active escapism. 

They come in so many different genres and each player can choose what and how they want to play. 

As much as I am more of an online multiplayer game player these days, I have sunk many hours into adventure games, RPGs, MMORPGs and first person player games where I escaped into the magical world of gaming. 

Escapism has actually become a common part of life as we all strive to get away from work and the stresses that come with modern day life and while TV is a great way to do this, for me, it’ll be a long time before it really moves away from a passive activity. With mobile technology being so prominent in our everyday lives, it’s rare that we’re not looking at some form of tech even when we’re watching TV, keeping it a passive activity. 

Even right now, while writing this, I’m watching an episode of Friends, although, I’m not really watching it, it’s just on in the background to stop the room from feeling quiet. 

That’s where gaming thrives. I would really struggle to be playing a game of CoD or wandering around a cave in Skyrim while writing this because it demands attention and action from the player. Even cinematic-heavy gameplay demands an audience and often brings in an interactive element every so often to keep you in the moment. 

Above all, what I really love about the active escapism that comes with gaming is the opportunity to be somewhere completely different, mythical, scary, unrealistic, beautiful, all from the comfort of your home. 

The intensity of playing online as a team in a game of Rocket League or Call of Duty or Halo or whatever your game is, takes you away from everything you know and puts you into a world that you can enjoy, engage with and feel good (and sometimes bad) about. 

As gaming becomes ever more popular, this form of active escapism is reaching new heights with the introduction of VR gaming headsets where you are truly immersed in another world and at times lose a sense of what’s going on around you. Only time will tell what the future holds but we’re sure to have a fun ride where we as gamers are in control!

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