Why We Love Fantasy

An Except from “Roll Dice, Build Character – On Faith, Family, and Fantasy Role-Playing Games”, By Mark Hansen. Part of the Clean Fiction Blog Tour (see below)

Early childhood is a time of wonder and learning. Everything is new, and it’s easy to slip between the world of imagination and the world of reality. During this impressionable time, many of us grew up hearing classic fairy tales, either in their original form, or revisited as a movie. While a lot of us outgrow that, I think we hold a spot in our hearts and minds where we love to imagine.

As we grow up, we discover that these stories were just made-up tales, but we still love them. Then, as we approach adulthood, we start to fill them out with other things that we’re experiencing in the “real” world. Some of these aren’t so pleasant as well: darkness, unkindness, selfishness, social disorder, and more. The villains become more villainous because we’ve seen more villainy around us.

That also makes us yearn for heroes more and more, I think. It’s like we still want someone to come in and make it right. We still want to believe in justice and kindness, and even love.

And so we need stories.

That’s why we love going to movies, why we watch so much TV, and why we read so many books. Recent years have shown rapid growth in the popularity of the fantasy genre of stories (with all of its subgentres and subsubsubgenres) in popular culture. I really think this ties into our childhood love of fairy tales. Yes, our stories may be more complex, with conflicted heroes and layered villains, and our settings may be grimdark dystopias, but it’s still essentially a fairy tale.

And we love it!

My sons and I have spent many hours watching animes and other fantasy shows together (We especially love “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “RWBY”, “Full-Metal Alchemist”, and “The Dragon Prince”). The best part of that, however, is the hours we also spend talking about the characters, their struggles, their motivations, and what the shows say to us. We have read books concurrently so we can share our thoughts together (like “Redwall”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Fablehaven”, and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”). These stories, at any age, at any time in our lives, have bonded us together.

A Sense of Adventure

How do we cope with the difficulties of life? We try to find ways to escape it on weekends and after hours activities, hobbies, vacations and, of course, stories. Fantasy, as a genre, offers a complete escape. In these stories, we’re inserting ourselves into a whole other world, not just a distant city. We can forget our own troubles for a bit and be immersed in somewhere else.

A “Safe” Place

And sometimes, we discover that these new places have some problems that are very similar to our own. However, instead of breaking our adventure, that makes us a little more comfortable. We can still relate to the new people we’re meeting because they do have some similarities. 

As we look around in this new space, we can open ourselves up to seeing some of the problems of our own world in a new way. By looking at them in this new world, we can see from a new perspective. Since this new world is, really, just a made up idea, just “a silly fantasy”, it’s suddenly safe for us to consider what would be a difficult pill to swallow in our own reality.

The fairy tale becomes a way for us to learn about ourselves and grow as individuals and as a society. We can also look and see if we think that the way the characters acted was right or wrong.

All in a silly little fantasy story.

We learn about ourselves. 

Someone once said that fiction is the lie that teaches us the truth. As I have written my own stories, I have found myself manifest in each of the main characters. Even though I try to develop their individual personalities uniquely, they each seem to end up as facets of me. 

So, from the seeds of frivolous imagination, sewn in our childhood, grow trees whose roots sink deep into our cultural souls and make us reach higher to the sky as a people. That’s why we love fantasy stories so much.

I’d like to invite you jump to the blogs below and follow the Clean Fiction Blog Tour, presented by The Story Quest Academy! There’s so much to find and enjoy!

March 7th Ian Vroon

March 8th Story Quest Academy

March 9th Nicholas Kotar

March 10th J.M. Hackman

March 11th Mark Hansen

March 12th Courtenay Kasper

March 13th Debbie Schreffler

March 14th Story Quest Academy

March 15th Steven Guglich

March 16th Laurie Lucking

March 17th Julie Gilbert

March 18th Meg Dendler

March 19th Nicholas Kotar

March 20th Courtenay Kasper

March 21st Story Quest Academy

March 22nd Molly Casperson

March 23rd D.J. Edwardson

March 24th Marty C Lee

March 25th Molly Casperson

March 26th Mark Hansen

March 28th Story Quest Academy

March 29th Debbie Schreffler

March 30th Nicholas Kotar

March 31st Molly Casperson