The goal is to pour your focus into doing something that is productive or creative until you get to the point where you are no longer thinking about anything other than what you are working on. Of course I realise that a physical product is not always the result, meditating and reading seem to have similar restorative effects.
The reason why I say productive or creative is it seems most activities that have either of those as a result end up causing people to feel, in some manner, fulfilled mentally, physically, and emotionally. I know that escape is easily obtained with playing games, but it's not the same result...eventually you start, as you described, realising it's just a cover... I guess it's similar to eating junk food instead of a warm home-cooked meal when you're hungry: The first tastes good but doesn't leave you feeling too satisfied. The second, however, tastes good and leaves you feeling satisfied.
Edit: I also realise I'm dancing around the subject a little bit. It's a concept I'm having a little trouble explaining at the moment.