While playing World of Warcraft tonight, I had a thought: perhaps one of the reasons (of many) that role-playing games (RPGs) are so popular is that, in an RPG, you generally have a set of fairly clear objectives: your "quests." As you finish these quests, you receive very explicit rewards: experience points (almost always given as an actual, countable quantity of experience), and treasure (money or powerful items). If you follow the mathematical rules of the game, you will be successful. The reward for the quest is immediate gratification. There's no question of "am I doing a good job?" because you can open up your character sheet and see that, yes, you are doing a good job. You're always progressing, always moving forward, always just a few thousand experience points until you level up—that magical time when you become distinctly more powerful than you were before. Real life isn't like that. You observe, and you wait, and you ask, and you can pick up little details, and it kind of seems like you might just be doing okay, but in an RPG, none of that is necessary. An RPG is a fantasy world, and not just because of the goblins or the magic; it's a world where the course of your virtual life is streamlined, simplified, and easy to follow. That's got to have incredible appeal to a lot of people.