It was the beginning of the longest love affair I've ever had, between me and my imagination. I wrote and wrote and wrote, there were no computers for us in those times, no way to type at the ridiculous speeds I do now, so it's all in books, most of it I still have and occasionally read with a wry smile to remind myself that I'm a little (only a little) more evolved than the boy who started doing this all that time ago.
I game because it's a new world out there, and its a new world you're only ever going to get to with the help of other people, you can't do it yourself (Well, you can, but it's real dull because you already know what's around the corner), so you have to go and get friends and together, you go out into the world not as the children you are, sitting around the kitchen table while mum makes you egg and home made chips (Thanks Mum, still the best chips in the world), but as the adventurers you were always supposed to be.
A good friend pointed out yesterday that I told him that if I make one person happy as a result of what I do, then it worth it. It was true then, it's even more true now, because when someone comes to my table and goes away happier, I've brightened my corner of the world, ever so slightly and if only for a second, but I've brightened it.
If I've learned one thing in my gaming, it's that everyone brings something of themselves to the table, the characters there are us, but writ large. When we play, we give ourselves the freedom to be that which we want to be, not that which circumstances force us to be and we remember hope, hope that we can conquer the odds, no matter how insurmountable they first appear to be.
So my answer is that I do it because in the world I live in, it makes people happy, and that in turn makes me happy, and that, is worth it.
To paraphrase Vin Diesel for a second, "Ask any Gamer, any real Gamer, it don't matter if you're first level or thirtieth level, playings playing."
Just play :)