Not mentioning some obvious reasons such as temporary tearing away from reality, curiosity or good advertising campaign, the most important factors causing our enchantment with games (in my opinion) are some types of behavior like: sense of aesthetics, gathering, tidying up, solving problems.
Sense of aesthetics
The first Cro-Magnon man, the earliest “Homo Sapiens”, skilfully and carefully made tools. He had a unique feature which differentiated him from animals and other Neanderthal men and which was a kind of impulse that pushed him into creative activity. That feature was a sense of aesthetics. Depictions in caves in France and Spain reveal a highly developed artistic instinct and first brain impulses into abstract thinking.
Computer games with beautiful graphics and music among which most casual games are ranked, draw us into this mysterious area of human brain and aesthetic magic – art.
However, the main activity of a man was not art but survival. Living in extremely difficult conditions his task was to gather food, tools, flint etc.
Various objects that we have to gather in games and systems of prizes serve a similar purpose. If we get the first reward from a collection of rewards, then it would be “decent” to get the next and the next ones up to gathering all of them.
Tidying up is directly linked to gathering. There is nothing more motivating than a tidied up room and books arranged on bookcases. Our ancestors kept order which can be seen today in tribes living in the wild whose members do not neglect their abodes.
Tidying up issue can be well seen in casual games of hidden object type and in platformers. High popularity of such games proves that the theory of tidying up as a factor “drawing” us in the world of games, proves true in practice.
I will consequently refer to our ancestors and give an example dating back to 30000 years ago: Les Eyzies plate registering phases of the moon within 69 days.
Astronomical observations and the need to understand the surrounding world is and was the key to survival and additional benefits. The necessity to understand things is our natural instinct which we are not able to resist.
Logical games, especially casual games of “math3”” type, in which we try to solve a problem of incorrectly fixed blocks, are a very good example of such mechanism.
Casual games improve our concentration, they do not contain violence (I mean repressing feeling of pleasure rather than transferring of behaviour to real world), are not stressful and are the richest form of active entertainment that a man has invented.