For these researchers, incredibly, enjoyment is not the primary reason why we play video games. Enjoyment is not the primary motivation—“it is rather,” they wrote, “the result of satisfaction of basic needs.” Video game worlds provide us with places where we can act with impunity within the game’s reality. And yet, freed of meaningful consequence, law abiders continue to abide the law. The competitive continue to compete. The lonely seek community. Wherever we go, there we will be.
Yup, games help you to define yourself and try out your personality without fear of repercussions. Bartle chimes in with self-actualisation and I think that holds true within the same context. You get to see if your own way of life holds merit and success.
This is also what makes free-to-play games more dangerous than any depiction of violence or sex; if your successful persona gets taught to depend upon instant gratification and money-charged shortcuts, real-life becomes less and less interesting and even problematic. Delayed gratification and long-term goals are something that can be trained through video games, but sadly most of the money-making schemes for games seem to focus on the opposite end of the scale.
So more Dark Souls and Pokémon, less Farmville and Candy Crush.