An adventure is an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking. Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as traveling, exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting or participating in extreme sports. Adventures are often undertaken to create psychological arousal or in order to achieve a greater goal such as the pursuit of knowledge that can only be obtained in a risky manner.
Adventurous experiences create psychological arousal, which can be interpreted as negative (e.g. fear) or positive (e.g. flow). For some people, adventure becomes a major pursuit in and of itself. According to adventurer André Malraux, in his La Condition Humaine (1933), "If a man is not ready to risk his life, where is his dignity?". Similarly, Helen Keller stated that "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Outdoor adventurous activities are typically undertaken for the purposes of recreation or excitement: examples are adventure racing and adventure tourism. Adventurous activities can also lead to gains in knowledge, such as those undertaken by explorers and pioneers – the British adventurer Jason Lewis, for example, uses adventures to draw global sustainability lessons from living within finite environmental constraints on expeditions to share with schoolchildren. Adventure education intentionally uses challenging experiences for learning.
Author Jon Levy suggests that an experience should meet several criteria to be considered an adventure:
- Be remarkable—that is, worth talking about
- Involve adversity and/or perceived risk
- Bring about personal growth
Mythology and fiction
The knight errant was the form the "adventure seeker" character took in the late Middle Ages.
Adventure books may have the theme of the hero or main character going to face the wilderness or Mother Nature. Examples include books such as Hatchet or My Side of the Mountain. These books are less about "questing", such as in mythology or other adventure novels, but more about surviving on their own, living off the land, gaining new experiences, and becoming closer to the natural world.
Many adventures are based on the idea of a quest: the hero goes off in pursuit of a reward, whether it be a skill, prize, or perhaps the safety of a person. On the way, the hero must overcome various obstacles. Mythologist Joseph Campbell discussed his notion of the monomyth in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell proposed that the heroic mythological stories from culture to culture followed a similar underlying pattern, starting with the "call to adventure", followed by a hazardous journey, and eventual triumph.
In video-game culture, an adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media, literature and film, encompassing a wide variety of literary genres. Many adventure games (text and graphic) are designed for a single player, since this emphasis on story and character makes multi-player design difficult.
From ancient times, travelers and explorers have written about their adventures. Journals which became best-sellers in their day were written, such as Marco Polo's journal The Travels of Marco Polo or Mark Twain's Roughing It. Others were personal journals, only later published, such as the journals of Lewis and Clark or Captain James Cook's journals. There are also books written by those not directly a part of the adventure in question, such as The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, or books written by those participating in the adventure but in a format other than that of a journal, such as Conquistadors of the Useless by Lionel Terray. Documentaries often use the theme of adventure as well.
- "Adventure". dictionary.com. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- M Gomà-i-Freixanet (2004), "Sensation Seeking and Participation in Physical Risk Sports", On the psychobiology of personality, Elsevier, p. 187, ISBN 978-0-08-044209-9
- Keller, Helen (1957). The Open Door.
- Snow, Shane (2 December 2016). "The Science of the Perfect Night Out". GQ. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Adam Mansbach (12 February 2010). "Odysseus Remixed". The New York Times.
- Richard Jenkyns (22 December 1996). "Heroic Enterprise – (Book review: The Odyssey translated by Robert Fagles)". nytimes.com. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Zweig, P. (1974). The adventurer: The fate of adventure in the Western world, New York: Basic Books.
- Vincent Canby (26 May 1977). "A Trip to a Far Galaxy That's Fun and Funny". The New York Times.
- Vincent Canby (12 June 1981). "Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark". The New York Times.
- Adams, Ernest (29 December 1999). "The Designer's Notebook: Three Problems for Interactive Storytellers". Gamasutra. p. 43. Archived from the original on 10 May 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
- Hitchens, Joe (2002). "Special Issues in Multi player Game Design". In François-Dominic Laramée (ed.). Game Design Perspectives. Charles River Media. p. 258. ISBN 1584500905.
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- Website of the Research Unit "Philology of Adventure": ongoing research project on the literary history of the adventure pattern
- What is an adventure? A definition of "adventure", "hero" and "epic" with an illustration of the hero's journey.
- Martin Feeney Going on a journey: Life in Year 10