Noism wrote a blog post about escapism that linked to an old Canon Puncture podcast that in turn linked to one of Noism’s blog posts from way back. This has reminded me about a post I’ve been meaning to make for a while about the word – escapism. For some reason the word just bugs me.
So, me, Aaron and Pete are playing a campaign set in Mobu City. There’s lots of social commentary and bits about immigration there.
But really, what I love about the game is getting to role-play giant spiders and seeing a dwarven gambler and a dwarven drunk try to run a brewing business while brushing, banging and vomiting amongst the seedy under-side and powerful lordlings and wizards of a crazy-Tolkien-circa-1684-pastiche fantasy city (why 1684? I have no idea). The social shit just happens because it happens. I don’t sit around and plan it. It isn’t what drives the campaign.
What drives the campaign are the things Aaron and Pete see as important to their characters, the things they strive for and drive towards.
The social commentary, the deeper bits of the game are just there. When we kvell about the game during dinner or during post-game talks, sometimes we’ll talk about it but more often than not we’re talking about funny moments (“Drink O’Declan’s!“) and crazy shit that happens (“I can’t believe Judd had Aaron’s character gut-shot in the first game; that’ll teach him not to play a bad-ass elf.”).
I feel like sometimes, from things I say online that it seems like when we game we get together and put on smoking jackets and have deep games with deep thoughts. That isn’t so. When I’m GMing, like lots of people, I’m looking at the things the players dig and bringing about consequences based on the characters’ actions that are true to the NPC’s and will test the PC’s mettle. I’m not thinking about saying something about society.
When I say that it is worth analyzing and picking apart our fantasy worlds, I mean it but that doesn’t mean I want to do it right at the table during play.
Back to escapism. I love visiting fictional places with my friends but the word, escapism, rubs me the wrong way. Maybe because to me, right or wrong, it seems to render the experience as meaningless. It feels dismissive.
“But Judd, what meaning does it really have?”
This shit we’re making up together (at the table, I mean) doesn’t mean anything? Shit. I think it does. Doesn’t it?
I don’t want to escape the real world. I’ve got problems like everyone does but I like the real world. I feel like gaming gives me an altered focus. It allows me to engage in focused day-dreaming with friends. If I wasn’t gaming, I’d still be day-dreaming about these fictional places and gaming allows me to do this in good company, gives the day-dreams focus.
I’m going to wrestle with this for a while, try to figure out what it is about escapism that rubs me the wrong way.
Comments are welcome.