We have the best virtual reality equipment in the world right in our heads. We were born with it. It has evolved over half a million years to let us imagine worlds that aren't in front of us. We used to love it as a child before we stuck it in a drawer just about the time we started to worry about our SAT scores. It's time to open that drawer, put it back on, and step through the door.
The reason people play role-playing games varies, I suppose. Some people probably still like RPGs for the same reason we played in the early 80s - to roll up a character and then open a book, pick a monster, and kill it. The was no role play in those days, at least for us. Our characters did not have back stories and ambitions. The party did not need a reason to come together. We just rolled some dice and hung out together.
Add 35 years and I have almost zero interest in pure hack-and-slash escapism. (Note that I did not say zero.) Now when we play, our characters are important. We work on their backstories and find ways to bring the party together. As individuals, we commit a lot of time to each other. Two campaigns just wrapped up for me, one as a player and one as a game master. One was every second week for 30 sessions, and the other was every week for 39 sessions.
If you cannot imagine why a group of people would commit that much time each week or two to a "game", take a look at this picture.
That is a screen shot for one of the scenes I am preparing for with some friends using the Foundry Virtual Table Top. Looking at that fantasy city and I cannot help but be inspired with countless stories and ideas. That is the power of imagination, and that is why I play. There are countless worlds to be explored, and I want to explore them.