Fantasy in Video Games
“Fantasies take us out of reality and allow us to experience our imagination or express ourselves in ways that for one reason or another, we can’t do in real life.”
Various video games include elements of fantasy to captivate and sustain the engagement of players. Think about it. For as long as long as we can remember, Disney movies have been a staple part of childhood, and still are for many children today. From classics like The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, to recent ones like Moana, children are drawn into these characters, stories and the fantasy elements within these fictional stories. Harry Potter has been the latest craze, and has both children and adult fans from all over the globe, and the books have sold over 500 million copies. Fantasies take us out of reality and allow us to experience our imagination or express ourselves in ways that for one reason or another, we can’t do in real life.
Visit a kindergarten class or pre-school or day care, and you’ll see this a lot in children’s play (something they want to do all of the time if they could), as they take on different roles and enact various situations, and seem to do this naturally. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder why video games are so captivating. Malone (1981) also identified fantasy as one of the many elements of video games that are motivational and engaging in games as the concept is heavily related to children’s play (which is also widely documented and studied in the world of research).
So how does this show up in video games? Various ways. Take Gravity Rush 2 (SIE Japan/Project Siren) for instance. Players can manipulate gravity and fly in various locales to their hearts content. This is a core mechanic of gameplay and you can also manipulate objects with gravity as well.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (Level-5) features traditional elements associated with fantasy. That is, dragons, magic, kings, queens and the likes. In Ni No Kuni II, one of the protagonists, Evan, loses his homeland due to a coup. The plot of the game revolves around you building your own kingdom and signing treaties with other nations that have had their “kingmaker” (a giant mythical creature that serves the king and protects the nation) stolen by the antagonist. The video below is a battle where Evan fights a ferocious dragon using magic and tiny elemental creatures known as “higgledies”.
Ever wanted to be a superhero? As if the above games are not captivating enough, Insomniac Game’s Marvel’s Spider-Man allows you control over the web-slinging superhero himself. The entire game takes place in New York City and it’s very much like the show, as you sling through different locations in Manhattan and foil the plottings of evil thugs who want to take over. Just remember that fantasy is one part of the entire package that makes video games an engaging experience.