Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

It's more complicated than just escapism

2:00 PM on 08.22.2009 // Sean Carey

[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our moms raised us.  Want to post your own article in response? Publish it right now on our community blogs.]

Much like the games we play, most humans' days are filled with routine -- a repetition of memorized patterns designed to produce a desired outcome. We are creatures of habit. We thrive under predictable circumstances with reliable results. If we were to list out the activities that we complete over the course of a week, a month, or even a year, most of us would find that our daily lives are about as complicated as the Konami code.

Wake up. Brush Teeth. Shower. Get dressed. Go to work. Punch in. Meeting. Report. Email. Report. Email. Lunch. Meeting. Report. Email. Report. Email. Punch out. Go home.


Wake up. Brush teeth. Shower. Get dressed. Go to school. Class. Class. Class. Lunch. Class. Class. Class. Go home. Homework.


Wake up. Scratch crotch. Put on least dirty shirt from pile next to futon. Leave parent's basement. Steal cereal from pantry. Return to basement. Surf for porn. Troll internet. Play game. Watch hentai. Troll internet. Troll internet. Surf for porn. Cover self-loathing with cynicism in forum posts. 

What will probably flash before our eyes on our deathbeds.

Our lives, if we are honest with ourselves, are as prescribed as a rail shooter. But videogames are no different. Every game, when you break it down into its sub-atomic components, is merely the repetition of patterns and problem-solving exercises with visual cues or narrative progression as a reward. With games, the scope of possibility is even smaller. Not in terms of setting or character or plot, but due to the fact that the experience is crafted for us, rather than by us.

My thoughts have recently been drifting back to a question I thought was already explored in its fullness. Why do we as gamers, who pride ourselves on creative thought and joyful expression, come home from a self-imposed playlist of tasks on repeat only to engage in an activity which demands even more pattern memorization, routine, and repetition?

I used to be satisfied with my answer to that question. Most of the research, surveys, and discussion on the topic boil our motives down to one or more of three main reasons for indulging in our favorite digital daydreams:

1. Entertainment
2. Escapism
3. Social Interaction

Intellectually, those three categories seem to cover all the bases. Up until recently, if you were to ask me why I played games, I would have robotically rattled off those three reasons. If I was feeling saucy, I would have embellished with perhaps a dash of "improving hand-eye coordination" and/or a teaspoon of "problem-solving exercises keeps the mind limber." While those reasons satisfy the logical mind when I share them, there's always this little bothersome feeling that I haven't quite captured all of my true motivations for playing.

Why do we play videogames? SCIENCE!

Entertainment (read as: fun), while an excellent reason to play games, can be achieved through a multitude of options. We have movies, music, books, television, art, theatre, dance, and many other well established means for amusing ourselves (read as: sex). There's nothing unique that videogames provide in that category.

Social interaction is another reason with great merit, but again, there are even more options for us to engage in social interaction then there are in entertainment. The rebuttal that immediately pops up in my mind is that videogames provide a safe haven for those who wish to engage in social interaction without the pressure and anxiety of face-to-face interaction. But that doesn't really hold water. The Internet has been providing that in chat rooms and forums for years now. Again, there's nothing specific to games that make them the logical conclusion for fulfilling this need.

So, that leaves us with escapism.

"But walkyourpath, doesn't your argument for entertainment apply in the escapism category as well? Aren't all those other forms of entertainment you listed just as capable of providing a release from our everyday lives as videogames?"

Yes, and no.

In life, you can do all the right things and still not succeed. The routines that we adhere to so slavishly don't always equate to the outcomes we assume will follow.

You can do your job better than anyone else, and the cousin of the boss can swoop in and get the promotion you worked your ass off for. You can be charming, witty, cool, good-looking, well-to-do, and say all the right things -- you still might not get the guy or gal your heart yearns for.

It is true that if you persevere and constantly strive to improve yourself that the odds are in your favor, but life provides no guarantees.

"I want him in the games until he dies playing."

This is where videogames alone are qualified to provide us with an escape. Yes, most books and movies, etc, are geared to provide us with the happy ending we want to see. But we don't get to participate in that process. In videogames, we are assured that performing the right actions will provide us with the desired result.

If we memorize the right patterns and execute the controls with the appropriate timing, then Mega Man will always defeat Dr. Wily. If we execute our attacks and defense with the proper strategy and our reflexes don't fail us, then Bang Shishigami will always drop Iron Tager. If we spend hours grinding goblins and kobolds and orcs, our abilities will always grow until we are able to defeat any enemy. XP is measurable, reliable, and comforting. It makes us feel good knowing that our efforts will provide a predictable result.

I spent an embarrassing number of hours in my adolescence attempting to move objects with the sheer force of my mind and spirit. As far as you all know, I never succeeded. But if I pop in Psi-Ops or The Force Unleashed, just executing the right patterns and button combinations allow me to accomplish that feat. Every time.

This is why we play games. It reaffirms our belief in the laws of cause and effect. It is security. It is control. More than any other medium, it is the one true escape -- actively participating in life's progression as we feel it should be, and not how it often is.

Sean Carey,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

voex avatarvoex
*Sigh* time to figure out how much a Fallout 4 capable PC upgrade is gonna cost me...
ooktar avatarooktar
Ordered this on Thanksgiving and surprisingly got here today. The case is amazing and Now I got all the Persona Cards. [img][/img] [img][/
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You probably already saw this - but it is gold - Fallout 4 One Punch Man Mod [youtube][/youtube]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
I just got my new Mega64 Blu-Ray! But now I have a problem... Do I watch that or keep watching Claymore...
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Hey, my new blog is up! A few days ago! Go read it! Before......before its too late. Please. *walls start crumbling, reality starts oozing out, things begin to eeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Alright so I'm looking for a few games for my newly repurchased DS. I'm already set on RPG as it's all I have pretty much. Were there any good puzzle games? I've heard good things about Professor Layton.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I made chocolate and banana cake because why not.
able to think avatarable to think
After hearing Persona 4 Dancing All Night come out of my surround sound system; I can safely say my $20 Playstation TV purchase was totally justified. The bass on Best Friends (Banvox Remox) literally shook the floor. It's freaking awesome!
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
I wish I could say I made this 'shop. [img][/img]
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow. Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow.
Alfie avatarAlfie
Was on the front page and was greeted by a new post, which I clicked to find "You cannot see the future". Then refreshed and it was gone. I saw Chris's post on Eight Days' cancellation as it was brought, new and unready, into the world! Rare and wonderful
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Have you ever purchased a game only to regret it later and then sell it/give it away, only to even later regret selling it and wind up purchasing it again?
gajknight avatargajknight
A decadent staircase adorned in gold rises into infinite darkness. Writhing beings beyond comprehension lurk in the shadows, their mere presence encroaching on the edges of human understanding. A blood moon glows . I am losing my mind. I need more eyes...
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
We need to be implanted with microchips because I'd really like to know how much time I've spent playing different video games my entire life.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If there are rainbows in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Reyn must be in it as well. You can't have a rainbow without Reyn, baby!
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I really hope Xenoblade become it's own franchise, it has way too much potential to simply being reduced to 2 games.
Sotanaht avatarSotanaht
Touchable Holograms? When this eventually matures and hits market, almost all our regulars will vanish for weeks.
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Xenoblade Chronicles Wii for €10? Sure, Nintendo, don't mind if I do!
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Super Smash Bros. 4 has too much content. So much so I almost don't want a sequel. I honestly hope that NX gets a "Super Smash Bros. For NX" port rather than a new installment. It could be a GOTY edition and come with all of the DLC.
Batthink avatarBatthink
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -