A lot of my friends and associates, like myself, enjoy reading, watching or experiencing media in which human beings are placed in mortal danger. We move humans from cover to cover while shooting at other living things. We watch as political scandals unfold. We read about intrepid people delving into the darkness beneath the earth.
It’s fun, diverting and sometimes thought-provoking, but when it happens in real life, it can be a very different story.
For example, a lot of the gamers on X-Box Live playing a first-person shooter love to go on and on about how badass they are. But how often do these kids move off of the couch and off to their local recruiter? Does the thought even occur to them that holding a real gun and shooting at real brown people might satisfy them in ways holding a controller and shooting at digitized brown people never really can? Hell, paintball battles are frantic enough, can these people even fathom how terrifying it would be to try and make their way across an open area covered by people with assault rifles?
The reason this is on my mind is because the miners in Chile are being rescued after two months. In fantasy RPGs, players are often underground or delving into haunted dark hallways for a very long time. Most players are either alone or in a small party. In the context of a game, this is no problem. But when you’re actually in the deep darkness by yourself for an extended period of time, bad things happen. Those guys in Chile were taken care of in many ways and kept each other sane as much as possible.
Anyway, this dichotomy between the settings and circumstances of a game setting and a real-life one isn’t all that odd. I’d much rather keep Commander Shepard behind cover while alien weaponry inexplicably bounces off metal crates instead of going to a foreign country myself with little more than a submachine gun and a prayer book. Escapism is a way to experience these situations ourselves from the safety of our couches. I think it’s important to remember, however, that there are those who do end up in these situations who do so without the benefit of save points, an omniscient support character or a controller to stand between them and the events taking place. And the moments when they overcome the obstacles set before them is an event much more worthy of celebration than any achievement we might unlock on our consoles or PCs.
Just my take on it, really.