I recently build a PC and have a brother who is more of a casual gamer, so this question is pretty well-timed for me.
If I wanted to be pedantic, I’d say the joy in ‘PC Gaming’ is, by definition of the words used, in gaming itself. On the other hand, the joy of ‘PC Building’ is in the building process itself. But of course, that’s not what you’re really asking about.
TL;DR – depends entirely where your priorities lie. A lot of people just want to game, so building the PC (while a satisfying experience on its own) is the means to an end (playing games at their best possible quality). So for them, the joy is definitely more in gaming. But for some people, building something with their own two hands can be a very rewarding experience, that continues to feel rewarding when playing games that run well.
Most people tend to want to play the best games, with the best possible quality (ie, best settings), and naturally, this requires the best systems. Buying or building these systems would thus give a little bit of satisfaction because the thought in your head is “I’m gonna be able to game so hard with this rig.”
For me, I was coming from years of a dying low-spec PC and integrated graphics on my laptop, so when I finally saved enough money to get a Ryzen CPU and a GTX 1070, I was ecstatic. But the building process was extra savoury because I’d been saving for so long for these parts, and had spent literally years dreaming of building a proper Gaming PC, and now here I was doing it. You know the saying, the longer you wait for something, the more satisfying it is when you actually get it.
When I finally powered it on, and play-tested a few of the most demanding games I knew, I was very happy to be able to play it at the best settings (with minor tweaks here and there) and was very, very happy with the rig I had built. Like being a farmer who had just grown a potato in his own backyard, and finally eats the potato. The satisfaction was in both building something my own two hands, and finding that the very thing I built myself ran very well.
But soon enough, I found myself enjoying games, but feeling a much deeper sense of satisfaction from the fact that the games ran well on the rig I saved for months on end and built with my own two hands. I found myself feeling immense satisfaction from going through gaming benchmarks then actually playing the game itself and honestly longed to build more. No doubt I still enjoy playing games, definitely, but hey, building a PC felt freaking awesome.
For my brother, who is far more of a casual gamer, the rig was like an upgrade that made all the games so much better, but it was just that, a means to an end.He enjoyed playing the games far more than I ever did.
I spent a lot of time playing games and just staring at my rig and thinking, “Damn, I finally got what I wanted.”
That’s my two cents hahaha.