TED : a talk from a conference called "When games invade real life" by Jesse Schell. The talk is mainly from a video game designer's perspective. Some of the things Schell discusses support the ideas I've been working on. Games that that connect with reality have been highly successful in recent months compared to those of a more traditional style of gaming. One example is the surprisingly overwhelming success of the Wii platform, with "Wii Fit" in particular, which involves real physical activity. Also Facebook-based games have been incredibly lucrative. There are more Farmville users now than Twitter accounts. Games like this integrate one's real-life friends into the gameplay. They also can involve using real-life money to pay for digital products or to get digital "points". The philosophy of gaming is spilling over into real life experiences: Fantasy Football, which depends on real-life sports gameplay; and geocaching, a GPS-based treasure hunt with a physical "treasure box". The idea of accruing "points" for accomplishing specific objectives has also spilled over into marketing in many ways. Schell predicts a future where this concept
The talk also stressed that marketing "authenticity" is the most successful strategy in selling all kinds of products.
The talk mentioned Avatar, which I have previously discussed, and how it, being the most successful movie ever, focuses on the question of technology and how it can effect reality, or facilitate a "real" experience.
What does all this evidence suggest? That it's becoming less true that people turn to the digital as a form of escapism, as the traditional view of video gaming has held. Maybe it's worth exploring how fantasy in literature need not be about escapism either. Much of magical realism, as utilized by Borges, supports this. Fantasy elements (or digital elements, in our experience) are just a part of daily life. I just had a thought: Maybe this attitude accounts for the popularity of the fantasy literature that is most successful today: "Harry Potter" and "Twilight". Unlike traditional fantasy, these stories occur in modern day settings that are connected with the real world and reflect modern issues. Is this a new development in popular culture that has been facilitated partly by modern digital culture? Or is the not-so-escapist (not to say these books are entirely un-escapist) approach something that has traditionally been successful in mainstream culture?