The ability to invent imaginary worlds and to play pretend are uniquely human abilities.
From a very early age children pretend to be things other than themselves: superheroes, little mermaids, power rangers. They also engage in forms of group play and seem to intuitively understand roles and rules. No one was ever taught how to play house or cops and robbers but all children seem to understand which game you shoot people in and which game you don’t.
Much of what we call culture is the creation of imaginary worlds. Aside from the “high culture” of the arts, the material culture of everyday life, what we call the “real world” is a collective invention and assemblage of objects, customs and beliefs. Each culture is a unique, invented world that reinvents itself across generations and over time.
More explicitly, storytelling and narrative art forms create imaginary worlds and metaphoric experiences. Motion pictures are the most obvious example. They allow us to insert ourselves into other worlds so that we may have those experiences without any actual risk or consequence.
Lately I've noticed the frequent use of “other worlds” being used by products and brands in television spots and on websites, often by brands that have a perception problem or whose products have actual negative impact on the real world. In these re-articulated worlds their brands are presented as the opposite of what they may actually be. In these theatricized versions of reality they are creators of idyllic utopias, sources of goodness and visions of life beyond consequence or complication. The difficult, day-to-day challenges of reality are replaced by illustrative, childs-toy representations that often include some sort of interactive game.
All State your Playground
On Toyota's Mind
Mobil's "Real" Energy World
Lipton Clear Green (utopian/dystopian screenshots)
Toyota Why Not
Coca Cola Tastes of the World