To read this content please select one of the options below:

Brave new World of Warcraft: a conceptual framework for active escapism

Andrew Kuo (Department of Marketing, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Richard J. Lutz (Department of Marketing, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Jacob L. Hiler (Ohio University College of Business, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 14 November 2016




This 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.


Within 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.


The 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).


The 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.



Kuo, A., Lutz, R.J. and Hiler, J.L. (2016), "Brave new World of Warcraft: a conceptual framework for active escapism", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 498-506.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles