I think I finally figured it out...at least to some extant.
I grew up in the pen and paper era or fantasy role playing games. My buddies and I played classic D&D, 2nd ed D&D, Forgotten Realms, Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse, Paranoia, Rifts, and a host of other long-forgotten games. We even followed the trends into Magic the Gathering, Lord of the Rings card game, the TSR dice games.
I've played most of the Might and Magic games as well as the Heroes series and the original Sega platform version. I thrived on Nintendo's versions of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior then on Sony's version of Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire.
I got a hold of the Elder Scroll's second chapter, Dagerfall which blew my mind with how much freedom the game offered players.
All of these games and platforms have some things in common besides the fantasy element. It is the crazy questing nature inherent with role playing games.
Sure, there is always a larger picture unfolding with every "chapter", but sometimes you can leave the story altogether and follow other, smaller stories. Sometimes you do not even have to quest, you can just lounge around for a while, causing trouble or winning awards and prizes for odd, local games. Depending on the complexity of the game, or the imagination of the dungeon master, you might even have events tied to working in-game calendars.
Then, once you are done fooling around, you can get back on your horse and get busy with the questing again.
That is why I play, I guess.
With pen and paper, there is only so much you can imagine when the dungeon master is describing the action or scenery to you, "the rocks glow with an eerie glow, like all the other glowing rocks you've passed in other dungeons, but this one glows with a deep, dark purple hue." The dungeon master could go on to explain the shape and texture of the rocks, even the smell of the area...for every step of the way. But you would soon get tired of the voice and cry for some action. Computer games allow you to skip some of the monologue and actually see it as the designer intended. You do not actually roll the dice in a computer game, but the dice are still rolling in the background, so you do not have to argue with the other players or dungeon master over the numbers, the roll up and something happens, whether you like it or not.
When the dungeon master hands out awards and loot, everyone who is playing around the table gets to "see" it through the rule books and loot tables. If you really want to see it though, you will have to draw it, and also your character. It can be really awesome art if you are somewhat talented and/or clever, but the alternative leaves one to just keep to the numbers and pictures stay in the head. Computer games pay someone who is much more talented than you to draw your character and loot to be as awesome as it can be. There are limitations of course, but cool is still cool. Also, in the online games, everyone in playing in the world with you gets to see you and your gear and how awesome it is.
I remember playing Daggerfall and wishing I show off some of the gear I had for my character, but more importantly I wished I could tell other people what I had just accomplished.
The PC and platform gameworlds can be very lonely places.
I currently continue to play World of Warcraft because it offers the best of all worlds combined. So long as Blizzard continues to make new content, and especially quest branches, I see no reason for me to ever quit.
However, that does not mean I can not find something to complain about.
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