Gaming, like any form of entertainment, cops a lot of flacks. But this is not what this blog is about, as if it was it would most likely dissolve into an anti-Jack Thompson rant ending in the sacrifice of a live goat to the Gaming-God Ken Kutaragi. Ironically the very subject we are here to talk about is generally seen as a negative undertaking, but in reality we are all guilty of it. No I am not talking about masturbation We are here to discuss escapism, a topic that has been touched on by everybody from J.R.R. Tolkien to Karl Marx. But fear not, as this is not a deep philosophical article, this is an examination of some of the positive (if you do not believe escapism to be inherently negative) and practical uses of escapism, that can be utilised with a Video Game!

I am sure many of you have experienced two common phenomena. The first is emotional pain (depression, anger, lust) and the second is physical pain (stubbed toes, broken bones, lust). We will look at the former first, for it is the most common symptom that is treated with escapism. How many times when you are depressed have you listened to a depressing song, or watched a sad movie? I am sure you have tried it at least once. It concentrates the symptom in question until you are crying like a new born baby. This is why I do not believe this to be pure escapism, at least not in the short term. No, this is surrounding yourself in the very emotion you wish to escape, until it is so powerful, that your mind can no longer accommodate it, and flushes it from your thoughts. In the long term perhaps it is an effective treatment, but it offers little immediate relief. Fear not for this can be easily remedied. If you are willing to sacrifice yourself to immersion, you will find powerful relief.

There are two courses of treatment here, but the second I must warn you is dangerous and addictive. The first is to engage in playing a truly immersive game. If the video game is sufficiently immersive you shall find yourself transported into the world of the video game, in which your emotions cease to exist, and instead you will feel what the video game wants you to feel, and as there are few games discussing chronic depression or schizophrenia this will likely be a positive thing.

The second is the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, but it has its dangers, nevertheless I will proceed. Buy World of Warcraft, or, if money is a problem, download a free one. I recommend Ragnarok Online! But if money is an issue it is possible that you will be on 56k connection, which means that you will have to play RuneScape. When you have chosen your poison create an account and start playing. It will take some time for the effects to be felt, but within a week or two you should have severed all social contacts in "real life" and created hundreds in game. From now on not only will your own emotional problems cease to matter, the world itself will. Apart from the addiction, there is another danger: if you suck at the game, or if you find repetitious tasks boring, you may find yourself frustrated, and as this is a negative emotion, this will defeat the whole purpose of trying to escape from the previous negative emotion!

How exactly can escapism help you with your physical pain (torn ligaments, minor burns, lust)? Before I answer that let us take a look at the competition: there is of course, a certain type of drug that goes by the name of "painkiller", but this name is misleading, as not only is it not a single drug, it also does not kill pain. "Painkillers" merely mask the symptom of pain, and as such it's quite simply another form of escapism. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with painkillers, but there's a reason most of them are prescription, and those that are not, are not meant to be taken in large doses or regularly. Besides, the OFLC would not ban a game that contained morphine unless there was a damn good reason, would they?

There are few studies on the long term effects of the regular use of non-prescription painkillers, but if I was to speculate, I would say that they are likely to turn you into an emotionless bastard that cannot feel and that gets his kicks by killing babies. But that would be purely speculation, no matter how likely it really is. So if you suffer from physical pain (radiation poisoning, Splicer cuts, lust), but don't want to become addicted to morphine, and don't want to kill babies, then what can you do? Escapism is your answer! Meditation would be a good option if it did not require such concentration, but when part of your body feels like it's got a large metal probe lodged in between your prostate and your small intestine, meditation is a nice idea but not practical. So what is? Video gaming! Yeah, yeah, in theory gaming requires concentration, but not the sort of concentration where if it is interrupted you're gonna start feeling that fork lodged in your thigh again. No, you start playing an immersive game and it won't matter if you die. You'll simply respawn, and you'll be so busy concentrating on getting revenge on that bastard of a boss, that as you slowly bleed to death you won't feel a thing. The only thing I would suggest you avoid playing is overly frustrating games, as like meditation after awhile when your concentration breaks— when your controller breaks the TV screen and you can no longer play— you'll start to feel the pain again.

So all in all is escapism a positive or a negative thing? And is it really as easily obtainable and as effective as I have claimed it is?

To answer your first question, I would say no. Nietzsche spoke of an Übermensch, but that doesn't really have much to do with this. I just wanted to say Übermensch. But the opposite of escapism, is not a gaol, it is reality, but an un-attainable reality. To never escape is not to stagnate, it is to escape from your urge to escape, which means that it is impossible to truly escape, and an impossibility can not be good or bad, because an impossibility can not occur, and therefore it does not exist, it is just a worthless concept.

And in a physical sense who is the greatest example of an escapist? No it is not Houdini, it is Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus of Nazareth, we find the greatest and most famous escapist of all. If you are unfamiliar with Jesus of Nazareth (not to be confused with Jesús Navas González): he was an influential carpenter who not only invented the wheel, also created Christianity. Sadly the wheel did not go down well with the Roman Julius Caesar (not to be confused with Júlio César of Milan) and he sentenced Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified on the stake.

Naturally Jesus was not too pleased with this, in fact he would not accept it! With the help of his father he managed to escape death. And yet in this escape, he will never be able to escape immortality. Which is why I speculate that after over two thousand years of life, he must want to escape from this depressing reality of eternal life, and he must use escapism to stop himself going criminally insane: it is only with escapism, that he can truly escape insanity.

Taking the above into account I would have to go back on everything I have said. As logically, if it is indeed an impossible hypothesis, it can not be obtained, and if it can not be obtained, it can not be effective. So just keep taking your morphine and listening to your depressing songs. Experience your sadness, experience your morphine high, and all will be well.

Posted by Foolz Sun, 13 Jul 2008 15:54:35 (comments: 8)
Sun, 13 Jul 2008 15:55:35
Woot, title is cut off.
Sun, 13 Jul 2008 16:33:09
Stop the ports!!!
Sun, 13 Jul 2008 18:46:47
Managed to... Email my dad at the weekend?

Managed to...Escape the clutches of the Nazis?

Managed to...Eat myself into a heart attack?

Managed to... Eliminate my male rival?
Sun, 13 Jul 2008 20:43:18
I don't think escapism is the proper descriptor.  Using an immersive outlet allows for self-occupation; so long as you are occupied with this one thing, you don't have to put thought or worry into something else.  This doesn't mean you are enthralled in this alternate world, though.
Tue, 15 Jul 2008 12:01:10
I seem to remember seeing a certain port over at GS by you. Nyaa

eliminate your male rival? You had a vasectomy?

It also doesn't mean you are not.
Tue, 15 Jul 2008 16:40:01
I had no balls to begin with.
Wed, 16 Jul 2008 06:46:20
Maybe you did, but Steel's massive ones made you think they were pimples?

Didn't the fact that popping them was so painful mean anything to you?
Mon, 18 Aug 2008 01:57:49
You need to write a book.  I'd buy it for sure.
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