In this fantastic Sin Aesthetics post, Mo introduces some vocabulary that helps to define why we play, how we get it, and where we get it from. I’ll paraphrase:
Socket (where) – a place that a player plugs into a game which serves as a conduit for the exchange of energy between the game and the player. E.g. [character, system, setting, social, story] socket.
Payoff (why) – the reason why a player enjoys roleplaying at the highest level. (There can be only one.)
Goals (how) – end-states of gaming that satisfy a desired payoff.
I’ll introduce one more: Strategy – plan for how a goal is reached. Duh!
As close as I’ve been able to figure out, my payoff is “exploring psychologies other than my own.” That makes character my primary socket and puts setting and story in a tossup for second and third. I’m still trying to figure out what my goals and strategies for achieving that are exactly.