I believe it was a short story. Aliens are observing Earth to see if they might be a threat but the most of the focus of the humans is in designing virtual worlds that other players must survive. Aliens conclude that the humans are no threat, but the best player determines that he is bored playing the games and decides to apply himself to studying space travel
Not sure if it is appropriate to answer your own question.
I just found the story. It is The Challenge by Timothy Zahn. It is a short story in the book the Cascade Point.