Do Games Really Qualify As 'Escapist'?

Ian Bogost and his students have a new project underway looking at the intersection of journalism and games; their new blog is full of interesting stuff.

This week saw a thought-provoking post on the issue of escapism and games by Simon Ferrari — do games really qualify as escapist? What, exactly, are we escaping from? Compared to the classic example of big budget 1930s musical spectacles, which allowed audiences to 'escape' from daily life. But as Ferrari points out, this is not what most games wind up doing:

... Escapism works, quite literally, as an escape from real world ills. Video games don't necessarily do this. If we sought an escape from violence and terrorism, then we wouldn't have so many video games on the market focusing on just these two issues. Rather, many video games seek to provide catharsis for the mental ills that plague us all. We don't see games about Iraq, but there are plenty of games that attempt to deal with the same "forces of evil" that fearmongering pundits fill our heads with through metaphor or displacement.

Even Mario wages battle against the totalitarian, (literally) draconian Bowser.

It's not a very long essay but definitely worth a read — as are a lot of pieces on the new blog.

Model Propaganda [Georgia Tech Journalism & Games Project]