Peru Ubu in the comments post of my Intractable post writes,
"It's not easy even in real life to admit that there's things you just need to accept; I suppose the question lies in whether you want a brutally realistic game, or if you're willing to let things slide in the name of enjoyment. How escapist are you willing to let your game be? (No offense, it appears you'd be less flexible on the subject than I might be.) ..."
Rarely have I ever had such an easy question to answer.
I want my game to be incredibly escapist. I want the player to transcend the rules and demands of their earthly self ... I want them to forget, in that moment where the game is happening, what they want their character to do or what they imagine for themselves is the point of the game. I want them to react to the game emotionally, violently, furious at the monsters, terrified at their own death (where they are ONE AND THE SAME with their characters), railing with vivid righteousness in their cause, laughing maniacally in the acts of their own brutality, screaming, shouting, seizing the dice in frenzied impatience, screaming at the bad result when it comes up, crying out in triumph when the walls come down ...
See, I don't care if the emotion I wring from my players is pleasure or not. The easiest emotion to be had is pleasure. Pleasure can be gotten by giving them a few gifts, or having some mild instance of good luck go their way.
TRIUMPH is not mere pleasure. Triumph is the profound mix of relief and success that can only be gotten after the harrowing of the human soul, through misery, pain, doubt, uncertainty and most of all, DESPAIR. There is nothing so rich and rewarding in the playing of a game that the manufacture of emotional transference from despair to triumph. Until the party believes, wholly, with their complete heart and their complete certainty that they can never win no matter what they do can they ever truly feel the godlike resurgence of absolute, unfathomed TRIUMPH.
If it is easy; if it is serving the party's needs; if it is a joking, mocking, silly romp through moronic rooms, tramping between the rails of a pedantic, cliched ideal of a DM's tour, then the triumph at the end is the worst sort of footnote to the worst sort of escapist crapfest.
I'm not building a rollercoaster here, where your character gets a little thrill on a ride that's guaranteed to leave you alive at the end ... I'm building a terror house where there's every chance that in the next five minutes the YOU that you've been, fighting and suffering and investing in my world all these many months, even years, will be stone cold DEAD beyond all hope of redemption.
Yes, you're freakin' right I want it to be escapist. If you're sitting on your ass still thinking of yourself and your character as being different entities, that's NOT escapist. That's masturbation through proxy.
Now, you want to come and run in MY world?