PurposeThis paper aims to investigate the phenomenon of active escapism – a unique form of experiential consumption that engages fantasy and role-play as a means of coping. In contrast with passive forms of escapism, whereby consumers act as observers (e.g. watching a movie), active escapism provides consumers with the opportunity to directly interact with mediated realities, whether constructed in a virtual space (e.g. a video game) or the real world.Design/methodology/approachWithin the context of video game consumption, a conceptual framework for active escapism comprised antecedents, processes and consequences is established through literature review, depth interviews and naturalistic inquiry.FindingsThe findings suggest that active escapism functions as a coping mechanism when consumers are confronted with external stressors that threaten either their sense of identity or control. While other forms of emotion-focused coping relieve stress through psychological avoidance (i.e. refocusing of attention away from stressors), active escapism provides the benefits of affirmation and empowerment through projective fantasy (i.e. role-play) and presence (i.e. immersion into a mediated reality).Originality/valueThe conceptual framework established by this analysis gives insight into the structure of active escapism as a theoretical construct, providing a foundation for future research. Managerial implications for consumer escapism (e.g. branded in-game content) are discussed.
Journal of Consumer Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 14, 2016
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