If like me you have teenagers, you may have noticed that in the last few years the popularity of the fantasy genre has exploded. Fantasy used to be bulked together with science fiction but now there are books, films and video games dedicated to fantasy in its own right. Teenagers are particularly drawn to the genre and books such as the Hunger Games and Divergent, as well as Harry Potter have all been best sellers. The films accompanying the books are amongst the best selling films in recent years. TV series that have become extremely popular include Game Of Thrones, which is based on total fantasy.
Why is fantasy so popular?
The fantasy genre is different to science fiction in that it tends to be easy to read and understand, as there isn’t as much scientific jargon and complicated technological aspects. Fantasy settings tend to be in medieval days, involving mythical creatures and magic. The magic interwoven into the plots leads the reader or viewer into a whole new world where anything is possible.
The plot lines in fantasy novels, films and games are character driven. The character is the most important part to the story. We find ourselves really liking the characters and caring about what happens to them. Or in the case of the antagonist, really disliking them. The fantasy gaming genre has really capitalised on the heroic and villainous characters, the player really gets involved in the plot line to the point where they will fulfill all the tasks to the end to combat evil. The Final Fantasy franchise has been successful for 30 years and my son has just asked for the next installment for Christmas.
The fantasy genre offers an element of escapism, but it also tackles human emotion and moral dilemmas. Taking a step away from reality and entering a virtual, but safe world has actually been proven to help in everyday life. During childhood our imaginations are highly developed, as time progresses we utilise the fantasy games we played when we were little in our daily lives. This is why play is so important in a child’s learning journey. Remember how you thought that a monster lived in your wardrobe? As we grow and develop our minds become more factual and we look for solutions to dilemmas such as creaking floorboards and things that go bump in the night.
Fantasy games have even brought whole communities of like minded individuals together in their virtual world. For individuals with low self esteem, fantasy games can bring a sense of belonging. No One is judged based on gender, age, race or social class.
Fantasy has many positives but it would be unfair not to highlight the negative side of spending too much time in a fantasy world. This is apparent in gaming in particular. It would be detrimental to lose oneself in a virtual world so much that it’s difficult to function in real life. Time passes quickly when gaming, so long nights spent in a virtual world will harm daytime activities such as work and school.
The great thing about the fantasy genre is that there is no end, once missions and tasks are completed in books, games and films there is always the possibility of the story continuing. This is why books and games are so anticipated on their release. Every time the new Harry Potter book was released, people queued for hours at book shops in order to become engaged in the next part of the story. Fantasy creates whole new worlds to discover and participate in. One such world is created in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy of books by Tolkien. The books are epic and are high fantasy. The novel was first written as a sequel to The Hobbit, but became a stand alone fantasy masterpiece. The Lord Of The Rings novel has sold over 150 million copies and is translated into 38 languages!
To conclude, fantasy offers a chance of escapism across many media platforms like films, series, games and books. As technology advances in the gaming world the standard of graphics whilst playing fantasy games is very realistic and players can feel completely absorbed into this brand new world. As the world changes and we view more horror and political turmoil on the news, the chance to escape to a place where good overcomes evil can help restore faith in humanity. The popularity of the fantasy genre will grow in the future and books, films and games will be highly anticipated. To be perfectly honest I like a little escapism too and love nothing better than a new series on Netflix to become lost in. What are other people’s opinion on the fantasy genre?