"For developers, the goal of this new generation of open-world games is stimulating a player’s sense of adventure in ways that emulate the real thing. Jean-Sebastien Decant, creative director for the latest Far Cry installment, New Dawn—which puts players in a carefully rendered postapocalyptic Montana—says, “The key is to provide as much agency and as many surprises as possible.” Worlds are designed to make players expect the unexpected—say, a hermit living in a wilderness cave—just as one might stumble upon a bear in Yellowstone. Maura Reagan, a former ReStart therapist, suggests that the simulations satisfy something primal in her clients, similar to what they might feel if they were climbing Mount Everest or descending the Amazon: a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and empowerment. “These guys are getting the hero’s journey,” she says, “but digitally.”
"At ReStart, the issue seems settled: staff and clients talk about gaming like they would any other addiction. Rae tells me about a 13-year-old boy who was “using” World of Warcraft a dozen hours a day. Stories about game addicts run the gamut—lost jobs, dashed hopes, broken marriages. Rae mentions a man who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car after a gaming marathon at a convention. Another man developed deep vein thrombosis in part from sitting in his game chair too long. He eventually lost a leg to amputation"