The "virtual slot machine" bit was never anything new. I'm going to pick on Blizzard here, they worked the gambling aspect to incredible effect with Diablo I and Diablo II. They are masters of virtual gambling.
What I found interesting was:
This resonates with me. I played Warcraft quite a bit, but it didn't ruin my life or anything like that. I was already leeched of energy and motivation, I didn't like anything about myself, so I fumbled about for something to fill the time and get a sense of accomplishment from.The terrible truth is that a whole lot of us begged for a Skinner Box we could crawl into, because the real world's system of rewards is so much more slow and cruel than we expected it to be. In that, gaming is no different from other forms of mental escape, from sports fandom to moonshine.