Competency. The innate need to grow and develop mastery. Videogames can provide this in a couple of different avenues. Role-playing games are notorious for their leveling systems, in which you accumulate experience throughout the course of the game to grow stronger, unlock abilities, and transform your character into an ever-more-proficient being. Examples would include games like Final Fantasy, Diablo, Elder Scrolls, and even games like Mass Effect.
Believe it or not, there are like, books written on this very subject. Two gentlemen named Scott Rigby and Richard Ryan co-authored a neat little work called Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound (), compiling their mutual, psychological studies of video games and the results born of that research. In the book are many good answers to a lot of good questions, but for our purposes, allow me to pull back the curtain on three specific needs that the authors believe video games satisfy: competency, autonomy, and relatedness.
Total US sales of video game hardware and software increased 204% from 1994 to 2014, reaching $13.1 billion in 2014, while violent crimes decreased 37% and murders by juveniles acting alone fell 76% in that same period. The juvenile Violent Crime Index arrest rate in 2012 was 38% below 1980 levels and 63% below 1994, the peak year. The number of high school students who had been in at least one physical fight decreased from 43% in 1991 to 25% in 2013, and student reports of criminal victimization at school dropped by more than half from 1995 to 2011. An Aug. 2014 peer-reviewed study found that: "Annual trends in video game sales for the past 33 years were unrelated to violent crime... Monthly sales of video games were related to concurrent decreases in aggravated assaults."