Escapism – Plain and Simple
We all have our fantasies, don’t we? Dreams that we wish would happen, things that we would do “if we had the money” or “if there were no limits”. Like being a superhero! What child doesn’t dream of magical powers? As entertaining as these fantasies are, however, they aren’t real. Unfortunately, they are just escapism, plain and simple.
According to dictionary.com, the definition of escapism is as follows:
1. an inclination to or habit of retreating from unpleasant or
unacceptable reality, as through diversion or fantasy.
Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly love a little bit of escapism. It’s one of my most successful ways of coping. When my depression hits, retreat to some fantasy world. Anxiety attack? Distraction through fantasy. Simple, really. Moreover, it’s effective! Those distractions don’t have to be massive or complicated. No, if anything they can be plain and simple.
What would you do, then, if you could do anything? Anything at all. I’m curious! There are so many things out there that we can do, the world is our oyster, so to speak. Perhaps you prefer the outdoor world, travelling across the globe and visiting all sorts of wonderful places. Alternatively, you might prefer the indoor world of books, video games, films. You might be a creative type, enjoying writing, drawing, creating sculptures or music. Whatever your tastes, I’m sure there is something that you would enjoy doing if you could do that for a moment.
For me, the answer comes squarely down on video games. At least, for the moment, as our hobbies and interests can be quite fluid, changing from week to week. Still, video games have lasted a long time for me and been very successful over the years at providing me with a good distraction. I’d like to say I have a few different tastes, though looking at them, they do seem to boil down to one particular genre:
Fantasy and role-playing games.
Anyone else enjoy these? Here are a few that I really enjoy:
Ah, the Elder Scrolls. Ever since Morrowind, I’ve been a fan. Creating a character, choosing what they look like, what skills to focus on – be it magic, stealth or toe-to-toe combat – and going out into the world to do whatever you want to do…it has a great appeal! And Skyrim is just the latest in that vein.
There’s something about roaming the beautiful, cold tundras of Skryim, climbing from the lowest valleys to the highest peaks, finding things to fight and sharpening your skills. It’s one of the joys of such games for me: being able to create that character and explore. I love it!
Another strong contender – and unsurprisingly from the same company as the Elder Scrolls series – is Fallout 4. Similar to Skyrim in the sense that you create your character, you choose your proficiency – stealth, combat, science, medicine, etc – and you go out and explore the Wasteland. Post-nuclear blast that destroyed most of the world, the Wasteland is exactly what it says on the tin…yet it has an odd beauty to it. There’s something about the desolation that is breathtaking and impressive. It’s no surprise, really, that I lose myself in some of these games!
Granted, this one isn’t quite like the other two, as you don’t create your own character. You’re a GRE agent called Kyle Crane, dropped into the quarantined city of Harran to retrieve an important file. The city is quarantined due to an outbreak of some virus that has turned most of the population into zombies. You have to sharpen your skills and learn how to survive in this city, while you try and track down the perpetrator who has this file. If you don’t want to do that immediately, that’s OK, as there are plenty of side quests that you can do. With plenty of action, some jumpy moments and a boat-load of scares, it’s something that can certainly draw you in. It might only appeal to a select audience, but it’s definitely one that appeals to me!
There are plenty more games that I could list – Forza Motorsports 6, Forza Horizon 3, Sid Meier’s Civilisation 5 &6, Age of Empires II & III and so on, but you don’t need me to waffle on about those. Let’s talk escapism instead.
Three aforementioned games, games that have a solid storyline to them but also have plenty of things to do beyond or around that. In some, you create your character, in all of them, you choose what you want to do. Add in the others and you have some that are simply more scenario-based (Civ or AoE, for example) but all of them have one thing in common:
These games offer me priceless moments of escaping from the reality that I might find myself in. A depressive spiral, a day where I’m numb, a day where my anxiety is bubbling and boiling, threatening to go over…these games act as something to get me out of that.
It’s a distraction.
Something I can focus on other than what’s going on with me wherever I am at that point.
It’s escapism and it’s an art that I’ve perfected over the years. Perhaps it’s not the best coping mechanism, but it’s one that I use to practise my self-care. After all, isn’t that what successful self-care is all about? Something that can draw me in, that can lift me out of those situations? In each of those games, I’m not Alex the depressed, anxious Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer, I’m Alex the Warrior, Alex the Mage, Alex the Sniper, Alex the GRE Agent. Driver, wandered, civilisation leader, strategist, commander of armies. For a moment, however brief, I am able to be someone else. That lifts me out of the pit.
Over To You
So what works for you? What’s your ideal form of escapism? Better yet, have you got any examples to show me if you write or draw or sculpt or something else? I’d love to know!
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