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Poll: The Appeal of Fantasy  

139 members have voted

  1. 1. What about fantasy appeals to you?

    • "Wish fulfillment" in some form; I have the ability or power to do things in fantasy that I can't do in real life (i.e. magic).
      66
    • "Escapism"; fantasy allows me to have my own private "world", outside from the influence of life's struggles and/or other people.
      79
    • "Simulation"; fantasy serves as the ultimate thought experiment, case studies in which we can decide the rules that govern imaginary worlds.
      47
    • "Challenge"; fantasy as a genre can challenge our assumptions about "reality" (which we otherwise take for granted) in a valuable way.
      58
    • "Novelty"; I find fantasy interesting simply because imagination can make reality look boring in comparison.
      65
    • "Just world", in fantasy everyone can/will get what they deserve, whereas reality can be unfair in its randomness.
      20
    • There's an additional reason for my interest in fantasy that doesn't fall under any of the above (please describe).
      20
    • I'm not actually particularly attached to fantasy genre; I simply tolerate it because it apparently includes most good RPGs.
      22
    • Fantasy offers a lot of narrative flexibility, allowing us to explore cross-cultural archetypes in an abstracted/generalized setting.
      70


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As to magic within fantasy, I see it more as a crutch to allow the existence of beings and events beyond physical or technological limitations of the period. I have no particular feelings for or against its use. It is in essence a system that allows the supernatural to occur as if it were ordinary. A flawed and arcane (pun unintended) quasi-science. It has method, resources and a result. It matches medieval period technology and understanding, resembling the historical precursor to chemistry, alchemy. 

 

Concerning alchemy:

Funny really; we can hypothetically make lead into gold now, through nuclear chemistry. 

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I read many books set in the middle ages when I was a kid. I liked them because I liked knights and stuff. I also read fantasy books and liked them because they had a similar setting, but everything was so fantastic and magnificent. The hero was just a kid/teen, but he was the Chosen One. And sometimes all seemed lost, but then something truly amazing happened.

 

So I started liking the genre very much because I liked awesome things, and also knights and kings. The question is, how did my taste evolve and change over the years?

 

Well, I really like some philosophical dilemmas that arise from the setting. Suppose you KNOW there are gods... would you question them? Strive to kill them even?

Stuff like that.

 

But all in all... I like different things now than I did as a kid, but mostly it's still "awesome things". There has to be more lore behind them to satisfy me, but I'm still amazed by the idea of floating cities, enormous magical beasts, wars waged with wizards, evil vampires and so on.

 

I don't really want to *be* that kind of amazing character myself. Never found that interesting. I've always prefered to be a non-magical fighter in games myself, and I don't really want to be the Chosen One. So I don't think it's personal wish fulfillment.

 

It also definitely doesn't have to be a medieval settinf anymore. I like almost anything from ancient times to sci-fi in a fantasy setting. But the more modern it becomes the more obscure and subtle the magic has to be.

Edited by Fearabbit
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I voted: There's an additional reason for my interest in fantasy that doesn't fall under any of the above (please describe)

 

I voted this way because all fiction is fantasy to greater or lesser degrees, ergo, as someone who reads fiction, watches fiction and plays games in fictional realms, I like fantasy.

 

Hmmm... interesting, but you haven't said anything about why you like fiction, and I'd argue that many people's reasons for liking fiction would fall under the poll options.

 

I like fiction because I like stories; there's no one answer beyond that. I might like the wish fulfillment aspect of one story and the simulationist nature of another. There is a point in which the consumer meets the work and either accepts the work on the terms it offers or expects certain things and relates to the work on how their expectations are met. If I find an idea intriguing I want to be open to experience what the work offers as opposed to what I think it will/should offer.

 

Which is part of why stories that embrace fantasy (rather than being beholden to reality) have vast potential to be anything (novelty) and to provide complex problems that can't be totally addressed by real world experience (challenging).

 

So its not one thing, its all things in varying proportions.

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I pretty much voted for all of them. I think it's some kind of crazy ****tail.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I voted Escapism, but for me it really sorta depends on what one means by fantasy. eg I don't see fantasy as limited to magical kingdoms with Princes, Kings, and Elves ... even if that's what is commonly used/referred to as fantasy.

 

Games are escapes from having to think about reality (or sometimes, from having to think at all), and thus I don't really want to play brutal war games with "realistic" guns n' violence, wrack my brain to figure out real-world based scientific puzzles/issues, or manage a career track for a Sim while managing its emotive moods and potty cycles.

 

I just want to turn on a game and have it be immersive enough for me that it's like having tunnel vision...where for a while, nothing else matters and all my focus is bent towards the game. And most of the time, that's been in games with a fantasy type emphasis.

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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Simulation is the most important part for me. "What if..." is the most interesting part about fantasy worlds.

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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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Simulation is the most important part for me. "What if..." is the most interesting part about fantasy worlds.

That's really a quality that applies to any fiction, even the fictions we create in our heads every day.

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Simulation is the most important part for me. "What if..." is the most interesting part about fantasy worlds.

That's really a quality that applies to any fiction, even the fictions we create in our heads every day.

 

 

It's certainly very vague and applies to almost anything, I'd say it's more of a way to look at hypothetical scenarios.

 

Concerning computer games, Arcanum did this excellently. You assume certain things - for example, fantasy races in an industrial world, and explore what follows logically from those assumptions. Orcs become exploited factory workers and bandits, elves are struggling with the subjugation of nature by technology, lizardmen are being hunted for their hides, dragons were extinct and are displayed as dinosaur skeletons are today, and so on. It had been an easy thing to do to just give an orc some cool steampunk gear and stop there. The interesting stuff is what goes beyond the game mechanics and graphics, how the premises of the game world shape the history and current society in the fictive world.

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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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I like fantasy settings because they give you the option to do things you simply cant do in reality but not necessarily magic etc.  Not only that but the world can be designed so that you can have an effect on it and manipulate it through story or player agency.  The problem I think is the idea that "fantasy" means dragons and fireballs to too many people.  Shadowrun is just as much fantasy as Forgotten Realms.  As is Cthulhu etc etc.  Heck Red Dead Redemption is a fantasy game really.... unless you actually are a former outlaw cowboy gunslinger working for the government on a quest to save your wife and son in real life???

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I actually don't really like fantasy settings but, as you suggested, most RPGs have a fantasy setting.

I tolerated the fantasy and I like SF more. 

I think the reason for this is that I'm a bit tired of orcs, goblins, elves, wizards, etc. You may find these archetypes in a SF setting too, but in SF there's a bit more freedom. You can add other characteristics and so on.

 

So in a sense I'm not really fond of the fantasy setting presented by Tolkien, but that's the basis for many other ones. Even the South Park one. THAT I can't wait to play!


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.

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For me, it's all about the aesthetics. I'm a huge fan of races, classes, locations, and especially the enemy variety presented in fantasy settings.

 

With fantasy, you can include pretty much any kind of element without breaking immersion. Want to use orcs, dinosaurs, pirates, ninjas, Lovecraftian cults, or steam/clock/whateverpunk machines, and Greek myth all in a single setting? No problem. Of course, the elements should still fit the setting (including high tech laser wielding mechs in a Middle Earth-like setting wouldn't work, for example), but for the most part you can just use "it's magic" as an excuse. Gameplay-wise, this leads to a lot more interesting options for character abilities and encounters.

 

Granted, a lot of fantasy does stick to the same old pseudo-Medieval Europe setting most of the time, but that is not really the fault of the genre. Games like Planescape, Arcanum, and Morrowind had interesting settings, while still being "high fantasy". I love sci-fi as well (Fallout 2 is my favorite RPG of all time), but you're a bit more restricted with what you can do, or at the very least, it requires a lot more justification (not so much with things like Star Wars, though, which is really just space fantasy).

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Heck Red Dead Redemption is a fantasy game really.... unless you actually are a former outlaw cowboy gunslinger working for the government on a quest to save your wife and son in real life???

 

It's fiction. Fantasy is a specific genre that is usually defined by supernatural elements. And that's what this question clearly was about. "Why do you like stuff with supernatural elements?"

 

Sorry for being annoyed by this, but... it just happens every time someone asks a questions. People answer a completely different one, usually one that is way more broad, so that they can hear themselves talk for a bit and ask rhetorical questions and stuff.

"Do you guys want a Bowser-like villain?" -> Answer: "Why a villain at all? A story doesn't require a villain! Let's talk about villains and the necessity of them in narratives!"

"Why do you like Fantasy?" - "I like fantasy because of all the elements I like about fiction! I didn't answer your question at all but nevermind!"

 

Again, sorry for being annoyed by this and please don't feel too offended. But this kind of sidetracking usually makes threads very boring to read, because people start talking about whatever. Which is okay if the original topic wasn't very interesting, but in this case I'd actually like all of you to think about this for a minute and then give an answer where you differentiate between stuff you like in fiction in general, and stuff that sets fantasy apart from that.

 

Of course a possible answer is "I don't like fantasy more than other genres, I just happen to like some games, books etc. that happen to be fantasy because of their high quality". Totally fine. I think many people started watching Game of Thrones not because of the fantasy setting but because they enjoyed the characters and the story.

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On the subject of aesthetics, I was thinking the other day that as I get older, the more I realize how much a game's setting influences my enjoyment, especially now that we have such improved graphic capabilities (both 2D and 3D). Or maybe I'm thinking of environment? Or a combo of both? That is, I enjoy tromping around a forest, a sandy/windy desert, the edge of a grassy lake, climbing snow capped mountains, and creeping through dark twisty caverns. It's an atmosphere and scenery thing. Doesn't have to be a carbon copy Earth type environment, just that it feels outdoorsy/organic. And for whatever reasons, such environments tend to be found more in "fantasy" rpg's.

 

I don't tend to enjoy bustling/noisy cities, wandering amid shadowed skyscrapers and paved streets or inside office buildings, traffic and honking horns, looking at neon signs everywhere, and so on. It feels oppressive and not where I'd "naturally" like to be and dampens my gaming tunnel vision. So games with those types of environments being dominant tend not to appeal, even if the gameplay itself might be something I'd like. Such settings work fine/I may even want them in a movie, but for some reason I don't like it games as much. Go figure? :lol:

 

This mostly applies to RPG's with an exploration value, of course. Sim-strategy it's not quite as important, altho it'll still influence a bit. And of course, there have been games set in sci-fi/futuristic or mech urban environments that were fine/awesome. But they'll usually have a mix, so it's not all-city or all-indoors and I can get a break.

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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Heck Red Dead Redemption is a fantasy game really.... unless you actually are a former outlaw cowboy gunslinger working for the government on a quest to save your wife and son in real life???

 

It's fiction. Fantasy is a specific genre that is usually defined by supernatural elements. And that's what this question clearly was about. "Why do you like stuff with supernatural elements?"

 

Sorry for being annoyed by this, but... it just happens every time someone asks a questions. People answer a completely different one, usually one that is way more broad, so that they can hear themselves talk for a bit and ask rhetorical questions and stuff.

"Do you guys want a Bowser-like villain?" -> Answer: "Why a villain at all? A story doesn't require a villain! Let's talk about villains and the necessity of them in narratives!"

"Why do you like Fantasy?" - "I like fantasy because of all the elements I like about fiction! I didn't answer your question at all but nevermind!"

 

Again, sorry for being annoyed by this and please don't feel too offended. But this kind of sidetracking usually makes threads very boring to read, because people start talking about whatever. Which is okay if the original topic wasn't very interesting, but in this case I'd actually like all of you to think about this for a minute and then give an answer where you differentiate between stuff you like in fiction in general, and stuff that sets fantasy apart from that.

 

Of course a possible answer is "I don't like fantasy more than other genres, I just happen to like some games, books etc. that happen to be fantasy because of their high quality". Totally fine. I think many people started watching Game of Thrones not because of the fantasy setting but because they enjoyed the characters and the story.

 

 

I don't think that people are doing this on purpose; there's just a common tendency to conflate fantasy with fiction (and in fact this was something that I was expecting to demonstrate with this thread, even if it's main purpose was to discover the appeal of fantasy).

Edited by mcmanusaur

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I know this is a bit late, but what the hell.

 

On Magic: I think this is appealing because it allows characters to become much more powerful than they could in a realistic setting. I would love to see a game use alternatives for unrealistic power, like hyper advanced-technology or super-powers, but I can see them being pretty hard to balance(not that magic is easy to balance) and the high power sections might be impossible to make a fun game out of without having very complicated mechanics.


"Take your child murderin' god and shove his him up his own ass."-Volorun

 

"...the vote of a black redhead disabled homosexual transsexual Jew should probably be worth the same as at least a hundred white heterosexual Christians."-Rostere

 

"i can think of many women i would gladly sleep with, but not a single one that i would want as a girlfriend/wife... neither real nor fictional."-teknoman2

 

"I'm all for killing dogs in film." - algroth

 

"Iselmyr is the one who did GOMAD... Aloth is lactose intolerant" -ShadySands

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It's fiction. Fantasy is a specific genre that is usually defined by supernatural elements. And that's what this question clearly was about. "Why do you like stuff with supernatural elements?"

 

Fictional things are not real, ergo they are fantasy.  Genre is also an artifice, typically used to sell things.

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Heck Red Dead Redemption is a fantasy game really.... unless you actually are a former outlaw cowboy gunslinger working for the government on a quest to save your wife and son in real life???

...That's the fantastic aspect to you? Not the blatant anachronisms and geographic falsities splattered all over the game world?

 

It's fiction. Fantasy is a specific genre that is usually defined by supernatural elements. And that's what this question clearly was about. "Why do you like stuff with supernatural elements?"

The definition of fantasy as a genre is an arbitrary use of a word which has a vastly broader meaning.

 

From Merriam-Webster:

"1fan·ta·sy noun \ˈfan-tə-sē, -zē\

: something that is produced by the imagination : an idea about doing something that is far removed from normal reality

 

: the act of imagining something"

 

By your standard, a sexual fantasy (obviously the most common type of fantasy,) must by definition include magic, orcs, medieval settings, etc.

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Fantasy, as a media genre, holds a narrower meaning than fantasy, in general.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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By your standard, a sexual fantasy (obviously the most common type of fantasy,) must by definition include magic, orcs, medieval settings, etc.

 

Wait, is that something we're supposed to disagree with? :geek: I guess that means I'm the only on- Ahem... eh heh... I mean, of course that's not the case!

Edited by mcmanusaur
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Medieval settings.

 

"Wha... there's not even a BRIGHTNESS adjustment! All I have is 'SFX -- on/off' and a text speed slider!"

 

8)


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Easily about half of those options, I think they are inclusive. I think I like its closeness to nature and/or there being a feel to the world. It tends to be taking a large view, and be loaded with drama along every step, and challenges which partly appeal to one's personal sense of accomplishment. It also can use concepts more literally and still let them feel more real than when bound to the mundane. And it can present alternate realities and societies to what seems so important in everyday life. And of course it can simply do away with anything unpleasant, which makes most of it trite and lazy or downright stupid. Finally, I think think there is an inherent game aspect to it in getting immersed in its rules and learning its content, so that this kind of thing tends to be fantasy or a related genre.

Edited by MattH
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Oh come on, people. Obviously the word "fantasy" can mean a lot of things, but we're talking about the genre of "fantasy" here, the genre of fiction that includes fantastic and supernatural elements, but isn't specifically made to horrify you. Unless you have a better category where such works should be filed under, people will use the term for orcs, wizards, and dragons.

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One of the reasons I love fantasy is just because I've always loved the mystical, ethereal, otherworldliness of old European folklore and fairy tales. I also love how vaguely sinister and creepy some folk creatures and situations could be underneath the pretty exterior. The beautiful fairies we deify in our modern day were not nice back then. The many sinister monsters that came out after dark were enough to make you lock your doors and cover your heads in fright. What horrid creatures you could see flicking in and out of sight via candlelight. What beauty and splendor from the light of the moon and stars at night!

 

Anyway, I think Tolkien captured the wonder of old European mythology, folklore, fairy tales, poems and songs in his works. Being heavily influenced by his works, most fantasy games do a pretty good job of capturing the setting and atmosphere that breeds such otherworldly wonder. It's the past we heavily idealize (as reality back then was closer to the peasants wallowing in dung from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), but one that's enjoyable to escape to none the less.

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"Not I, though. Not I," said the hanging dwarf.

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Wish fulfilment and escapism. We all like the thought of being a great hero who saves the world, but in reality this will never happen. The world doesn't need saving, and even if it did, chances are we won't be the ones to do it. If anybody is going to fight the evil monsters, it's going to be the army, consisting of big burly marine/commando types with shaved heads and arms the size of tree trunks, not some skinny weakling sitting behind a computer. ;-)

 

Just deserts is also part of the appeal - many of us like to think that people get what they deserve, even though in real life that doesn't always happen (though that doesn't account for why I read the SoIaF books! XD ).


Ludacris fools!

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