The Simple Life

Blaugust 2nd 

Why are so many gamers, especially those who consider ourselves part of the core RPG community, so drawn to medieval settings?

Is it the simplicity of life we imagine took place?

Sure, being a peasant with an overlord isn’t all that romantic. Yet the world was large. There was the ever available opportunity for adventure  …right? That’s what we all think. Medieval life isn’t anything pleasant to dream about, but maybe we find some of those same unpleasantries in our modern, high-tech world. Maybe we crave a world that’s easier to understand. Our medieval fantasies put that world within reach.

Is it the magic?

There’s a strong association between medieval life and magic. Literacy was literally considered magic. Writings on sheets of thin objects called paper were spellcraft. It seems absurd to us today, but we treat them like a throwback in Zelda or Dragon Age. Is this why there’s always princesses in need of rescue? Is this why some warrior knight is on the cover of all our favorite RPGs (or dragons)? What’s the draw?

Is it the game?

Games are well structured simulations. All the parameters are finite and understandable. The rules are all known. The object is clear. Your abilities are all that stands between you and success. OMG if real life were this simple! If all the rules could be known and the object clear. It’s probably not that medieval settings are attractive. Maybe it’s just the entire concept of games that’s attractive and the medieval setting is simply familiar to our generations. It’s a setting used in all fiction a bazillion times a year. The simple life. I don’t think I even know what that means.

I wake up very early mornings, grab my favorite kid and have a hot cup of tea. We sit on the porch eating usually bread or fruit, enjoying the California sun and light breeze. She can’t really speak English, but she talks to me. And I’m her dad, so I know what she’s saying and we have this conversation for a while. Until my other two babies join me and remind me that their little sister can’t talk. They half believe me when I tell them I know what she’s saying. Dad is always tricking them, you see, so they can never be sure I’m not telling the truth. Those mornings are the only part of my life that’s simple.

Scree Tags: #blaugust #fantasy #life

5 thoughts on “The Simple Life

  1. I think one of the reasons that I’m drawn to RPGs is the um closeness to nature perhaps (yup closet hippie :P) I live in a city so lots of concrete, we live in a world where we are clearly out of balance with nature so to escape to a green world where you can make a difference is quite nice. I think as well, the medieval settings allow you to make that jump into escapism – it’s at the same time familiar and strange – even stranger with the addition of mythical monsters and magic but close to the childhood tales we grew up on. Maybe that’s it… It’s a way back to our childhood…

    hmm not sure those ramblings made sense – great post 🙂

    • Ah, yeah I can related to this A LOT. The world is so gray, literally. Dirt and concrete. It loses its charm quickly doesnt it? 🙂

      I think the medieval setting is a way back to something simple and the childhood reference is a perfect example of that. Its surprisingly hard to grasp the appeal of it.

  2. I think games are appealing because we get more direct feedback from our actions. In the real world it feels like you’re getting lost in a sea of people and that you don’t really have any control on anything. When we do work we don’t often receive feedback telling us we’ve done a good job, and so we never get any real sense that our actions are having any impact on the world – no matter how insignificant. In a game however, you can become a hero, you save people and are rewarded for doing so soon afterwards.

    I like medieval settings because I’m simply interested in that sort of time. I like swords and bows and in some ways the prospect of battle feels more romantic and honour bound (fighting for what you believe in to change the fate of the world.) I realize that in reality I’d actually be running in the opposite direction from conflict, but the idealistic views of those times draw me in. We probably have a much higher quality of life than they did back then, but the simplicity is alluring. Our current busy times feel very frantic and stressful with a strong focus on work and deadlines. We’re not as active as we use to be, most of us sat in offices tapping away at out keyboards. There is a lot of competition with so many other people sharing the same space. Sometimes our lifestyle is in conflict with our own natural instincts.

    • I take a similar position: medieval fantasy to me feel so simple and comforting. Modern life is frantic and we’re lacking most of the creature comforts humans yearn for. Namely, people LOVE to create and we live in systems where we’re only asked to be a cog. Thanks for really describing what draws you. I like hearing why others love medieval fantasy and it seems (at least in this community) that the simple life is part of the draw.

      • I totally agree. While living standards have improved, I just feel like we have certain instincts and needs that are no longer being satisfied because of the modern lifestyle (some people reckon this is why issues like depression are on the increase and will always be an ever present problem.) I’ve heard that creativity is being trained out of us through education (the system just doesn’t suit creative people and favours a more convergent mindset.) Through experience I have found this to be the case. It’s a shame because I reckon creativity is an integral part to being human.

        I’m an introvert and get easily overwhelmed by how busy the real world is. Games allow me to relax and escape for a bit. I love technology and video games obviously, but I’d probably be willing to give it up for a simpler lifestyle. That is of course if we could still keep some of our current living standards – no battles or beheadings. lol

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