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Last month, I had my now-yearly dose of escapism: I went away from June, 7th to June, 10th to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. For those not familiar with music festivals of that scale, this is what you need to know about Bonnaroo: you show up at the Bonnaroo farms in Tennessee, park your car, set your tent and camping equipment among tens of thousands of other attendees, put on lots and lots of sunblock, drink yourself a good time, walk over to the main festival grounds, see your favorite bands give some of their very best live performances ever to some of the liveliest crowds around, nap under a tree’s shade, then rave to your favorite DJs late into the night (or morning). Then, you go to sleep, you wake up, and you rinse and repeat for another 3 consecutive days.

Bonnaroo escapism shirtEscapism at its best.

It truly is a unique experience, but perhaps the Bonnaroo organizers can explain it better than I possibly could:

Your Bonnaroo is a snowflake that will soon melt. Leave the world Out There out there, and while you’re In Here, take advantage of your one shot to make the most of your experience. Savor every flavorful moment. (Bonnaroovian Code)

Sound familiar? That process, to “leave the world Out There out there”, is exactly what gamers go through with major game releases. Did you stay the whole weekend at home so you could play the new Legend of Zelda game without interruptions? Did you buy the game on day 1 and immediately put it in your disc drive the moment you got home? Did you use one of your vacation days at work so you could take advantage of a “long weekend” to try and finish the game before the dreaded Monday came? Or, if you didn’t finish it and stayed up playing very late on Sunday night, did you call in sick in the morning? If so, be warned: you might be suffering from a serious sociological disorder called videogame escapism.

Hillary Clinton videogames escapismThat’s it: no more videogames for you.”

But, is it really escapism? After all, every single one of those steps are also taken when booking a certain special “weekend getaway”. Many families are known to take long weekends to visit the Grand Canyon (to the dismay of children, who have no interest in seeing gigantic sculpted rocks outside of Halo); my own brother took a couple of days off work so we could drive together to the Bonnaroo festival; even Christmas and New Year festivities are very much treated like special getaways, with some corporations giving their employees the chance to go home and be with their families for a time, without (work-related) worries.

So it is with videogames. When you went to the store for the midnight release of Mass Effect 3, you knew none of your friends were going to get ahold of you anytime soon, and that was fine because that weekend was for you alone. Maybe they actually did, or maybe you got bored of the game and returned to your real life, but hey, that’s no different than finding out George Washington’s gigantic rocky head is a tad overrated.

Mount Rushmore boring escapismBOOOORIIIIIING.

The point is, when you buy a game that you know will require a considerable time investment you prepare yourself: you warn your friends, you maybe take a day off work, and you even pray nothing out of your control will force your journey to end too soon. You take the same precautions as you would before a 4-day summer festival. So, the next time you stand in line for the midnight release of “Space Romance Conversation Shootout 3”, don’t admonish yourself for the shameless 40 hours you’re about to spend sitting on the sofa, with lots of booze and little sleep or food. Sometimes, it’s not escapism; it’s a getaway.

Even if the getaway ends with you getting fired, evicted, and living in a tent city.

homeless man with dog escapismStill a better ending than Mass Effect 3.


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