I'm gonna go even broader and call it "the power of 'just because I can' " .
At its peak is the fundamental clash that created the renaissance!! The cutting edge news of 1515 (to be funny about an arbitrary date) was that people were starting to get annoyed/tired of quoting Aristotle for millenia. People just did experiments "just to do stuff". And often enough for it all to be worthwhile, "pure research" does drive tech. A lot of overly efficient "applied science" promoters try to "take shortcuts" by milking dry the lowest hanging results, leaving someone else stuck with the hard ones after they made their easy money, usually with a little smoke and misdirection thrown in.
Our sense of humor is why we put little funny spins on our pure research. So yes, why not a word processor in Minecraft? It's a subset of "functionality in a limited system".
Also, there are levels of projects you can just dabble at for a week and put away. It doesn't require a full onslaught to be interesting. For example, in Russia in parts of the 1800's, French was actually the aristocratic language. So I once bought five different translations of War and Peace to check how the English translator handled actual French phrases in the original.