On Monday, the Boston Marathon was bombed; as of this writing 3 people are dead and over 170 injured. I live in Southern New Hampshire, less than an hour from Boston. All day Monday, my Facebook and other social media was full of people asking about each other, making sure those we knew in Boston were okay (they are). That night my usual rpg group met at my house for our regular Savage Worlds/Necessary Evil game.
While I know all of my players had heard of the bombings and all of them were impacted on some level by the day's events (one of them has a girlfriend that lives just outside the city and teaches at a university there), no one mentioned it. Instead, it seemed to me as if they purposely avoided the topic and instead were looking for a night of gaming away from the horror of the day, even if it was just for 3 or so hours. The game went really well as we all forgot for a time the day's events and had a good time staying connected to other human beings. By extension, it was a way to reaffirm that there can be some good in the world despite all the bad that can be caused by other people.
And that is what RPGs can be. An escape from the horror that the world is faced with at times. Yes, once the game ends and people go home, they once again have to face the world as it is, including its ugly parts. But for a brief time, we can be reminded that flights of fancy and active imaginations can be used to show the world as a place of wonder, excitement and something special.