I usually follow the news quite religiously, as I find it interesting to see developments as they happen. My job as opinion editor also requires me to keep up with current events to write informed edits and columns. This weekend though, I did not read any newspapers, news Web sites, nor did I turn on the TV once. Instead, I spent my time playing Dungeons and Dragons on my computer. So I guess the question is, why does an intelligent guy like me waste his time slaying goblins in a fictional world?
Escaping reality definitely comes into the equation.
How many times can you hear about Iraqi militants shooting American troops, or the other way round, before it becomes old news? Even I, someone who read several newspapers every day during the war in Iraq, grew tired of it sometimes.
And if I get tired about reading about these topics, I also get tired of writing about them. This means that I do not put as much effort into arguments as I probably should and therefore, write boring. This results in reader apathy. It is a vicious cycle.
Escaping this often messed-up world of ours, if only for a couple of hours, is a nice change. Even if the world I escape into has at least as many problems as the “real world,” or even faces total annihilation, it gives me a much needed break.
Another reason is the strong sense of right and wrong fantasy setting-like this brings with them.
Usually the allegiance is pretty clear in settings of Dungeons and Dragons. In our modern world, where politicians flat out lie to us or hold speeches littered with half-truths, and the media, let alone the public, generally do not care, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to decide who is with you or against you.
It is also quite refreshing to have a “just cause” and know for a fact that it is the right thing to do. If you go off on a quest there is no doubting if the thing you are doing is actually the right thing.
In our world it is usually not that easy. With idiots among the ranks of Democrats as well as Republicans it is not an easy matter of good versus evil.
Problems also tend to be a lot more complicated, littered with lawsuits and tied up in long-winded debates.
For the most part, I prefer our actual world to a fictional one, which I consider a good thing. But sometimes I wonder if I would not rather face a disgruntled elf, rather than attend yet another Board of Trustees meeting or listen to another statement issued by Ari Fleischer.
This probably explains why books like Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings are so popular.
There is no doubt about who the bad guy is, and even if there is, it is usually cleared up rather quickly.
So I guess it is alright if I waste my time playing some silly game if it helps me get away from it all for a few hours and get a fresh perspective.
Sebastian Meyer is a junior in Environmental Science and The Oracle’s Opinion Editor. firstname.lastname@example.org