Power Fantasy In Gaming Is The Ultimate Element Of Escapism

The dopamine rush from gaming's most crucial ingredient.

Story Highlights

  • Power fantasy is based on making you feel powerful, the strongest element regarding video game escapism.
  • Many games, such as Destiny 2, God of War, and Doom Eternal, manage to deliver power fantasy.
  • The West and East have different ideas and perspectives to showcase power fantasy in their titles.

Escapism in gaming: there’s a lot to it that you may not know since, generally speaking, for good or worse, several personal reasons or factors heavily impact it. However, despite many of the perspectives people may have regarding their escapism experience with gaming, I can rightfully say that power fantasy is the ultimate component that contributes here, delivering nothing but pure, unadulterated, and unfiltered fun.

Sure, there are plenty of powerful narrative-focused titles and cinematic bangers in the industry nowadays, like The Last of Us and A Plague Tale Requiem, but at the root of it all, for me, gaming has always meant taking it all in, being enthralled by child-like wonder and just having dumb fun.

What Is The Art Of Power Fantasy In Video Games

Destiny 2
Destiny 2 instantly comes to my mind when mentioning power fantasy. | Source: eXputer

To put it plainly, power fantasy is the means of making you, the player, feel hellaciously powerful in gameplay, whether by attaining the abilities and traits of Godhood or just being an insane killing machine. When you put it like that, a handful of games from the last two decades have done that, but when I mean making you feel like a God or killing machine, power fantasy strictly needs to fulfill that agenda to the utmost.

What games embody the power fantasy?
byu/GoodVillain101 inTwoBestFriendsPlay

The best instance of video games where the gameplay is nothing but a power trip right from the get-go is Destiny 2, where you’re basically God killers with powers that can go absolutely crazy with the right builds from the player. Even in games like Borderlands 3, it’s about giving players the feel that they can destroy enemies with precision and utter dominance once they master the overall mechanics of each Vault Hunter.

Borderlands 3
The mayhem of Borderlands 3 is always a fun time with a friend or two. | Source: eXputer

Even those multiplayer titles aside, we’ve got fantastic modern single-player titles that personify power fantasy at their core, such as Cyberpunk 2077, where you can demolish targets using your extensive gameplay options and tons of unique skills, or Doom, where you cause mayhem against Hell’s abominations by ripping and tearing them apart.

The Infamous and Prototype games deliver incredible Power Fantasy-centric gameplay.
The Infamous and Prototype games deliver incredible power fantasy-centric gameplay.

There really is no shortage of it, and the fact is that despite many video games presenting it in their own respective way, when it is not overly objectifying the game’s other logical elements or in the chance that the game is based on the whole idea of ‘power fantasy’ (Looking at you Prototype and Infamous) then that to me is power fantasy in it’s purest form.

A Symphony Of Destruction But With Flaws And Misconceptions

god of war 2
God of War 2 | Image credit: Push Square

While I certainly have a guilty pleasure for media and video games, as I discussed above, where they defy logical aspects, it’s also something that most people don’t enjoy either, and that’s understandable. Even subjective opinions of the idea aside, power fantasy can affect a lot of aspects of a video game, and depending on the type of game, it can also enrich the protagonist’s feats and characterization.

For instance, look at Kratos; before he embraced his fatherhood side in the latest God of War entries, he was previously known as the Ghost of Sparta, who ruthlessly massacred the entire Greek Pantheon of Gods. The classic God of War games are the epitome of hardcore action titles, but my main takeaway is how their power fantasy went hand-in-hand with Kratos.

You had a Spartan, betrayed and thirsting for power, go out of his way to brutally murder anyone that came before his way. It not only made Kratos a flawed character in retrospect to his current one but also added logic to his insane power creep that you would experience during the gameplay. It’s really something I only appreciated when replaying all of the classic collection recently on my PS3.

final fantasy 16 clive rosfield
Clive’s entire arsenal of Eikons and their abilities in FF16 are a sight to behold. | Source: eXputer

It even makes a full circle moment for me when Clive Rosfield from Final Fantasy XVI is possibly the most overpowered protagonist in the series. Although he’s insanely powerful when you consider the amount of Eikons he gets, including the new Rising Tide DLC, at the heart of it all, Clive has logic to his actions and a proper, realistic, and humane side—a few of the various reasons why he’s one my favorite video game protagonists.

A Promising Yet Difficult Idea To Maintain From Both Cultures

YouTube video

Throughout this piece, I discussed how power fantasy is the main ingredient contributing to a fun game design and, at times, is the derivative catalyst of the main protagonist in how broken they can become to cause mass destruction. However, as much as anyone would love that in high amounts with any video game they play, there’s a pretty valid case of how both the West and Asia video game industry handles the ideas… differently.

A prominently featured theme from most JRPGs and other Eastern-developed games is how it infuses Shonen and other gimmicky ideas into their games.

Sure, it may sound like an annoying cliche to some, but it’s part of the charm, and I understand that grounded and more realistic video games are a gem in their own right, but my point is how the games in this market manage to invoke power fantasy in the most creative ways possible instead of solely via the gameplay.

You can also check out this blog post, which I found to be a fascinating take on the games of the West and East. While you can argue that amazing titles like Vampire Survivors and Hades have an intuitive display of power fantasy, it’s still a difficult idea to grasp, especially when you need to provide logic or consistency to other things when developing a large-scale game.

It might just be why I prefer shorter games now, with power fantasy being a self-contained dopamine rush that I’ll probably inject myself with once in a while in niche titles or other action games and JRPGs.

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Usama Mehmood is a Games Specialist, and writer on eXputer who's either hunting for the richest loot in Destiny 2 or endlessly playing his favorite games such as Yakuza or Final Fantasy. Usama has been gaming for 15+ years during which he has accumulated 4000+ hours on Destiny 1 & 2. His constant adoration for video games has allowed him to pursue eXputer as a platform to showcase his striving talents in writing helpful articles. Get familiar with Usama's extensive gaming library on his Steam, PSN, and Xbox profiles.

Experience: 2+ Years || Mainly Covers Reviews And Guides || Education: Bachelors in Physiotherapy.

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