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Gaming as Escape


Disciplines > Game Design > Gaming as Escape

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When people play games, there can be many reasons that motivate them. A common and simple reason is to escape the stresses and strains of the real world.

Games provide an easy escape when they are immersive and require full attention. They change the nature of current reality and let us leave the real world behind and, in doing so, permit us the relaxation and recovery that we crave.

Games can also be used in a creative way. If you want to think differently about a problem, reframe it as a game. Put it into a different world, with different rules. Create competitions, challenges and other ways to stimulate fun and thinking.


A person comes home from work and unwinds by playing an online game.

A sales manager creates a game for a sales training away-day where half the salespeople act as buyers and a game of who can make the greatest gains is played out. This forces the salespeople to escape from their current mindset. In discussion afterwards, the mind of the buyer is understood afresh and new ways selling are identified.

A person who is having relationship problems joins a local quiz team as an excuse to get out of the house. The challenge of quiz competitions also helps them take their mind off their private issues.


Escape is a common theme in life and particularly when stress gets too high. The Yerkes-Dodson Law shows how, beyond a certain point, performance drops off and we can even fall into satisficing or other coping where we seek to reduce the stress rather than doing the job to our best ability.

Escape is, in effect, a form of flight. We want to get away from the things that trouble us, and the comfort of familiar games can help, especially if the challenge presented is sufficient to take our minds off our problems.

While escape can help people get away and de-stress, it does not solve problems unless the escape includes aspects that help the person think or practice new ways.

See also

Stress, Yerkes-Dodson Law, Coping Mechanisms


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