Aside: Oooh, Second Life has just been released as GPL, aka free for everyone! Check out this quote, "it’s not very meaningful to amass in-game wealth if your ability to use it is contingent on your ongoing good relations with a single company". Neato, they really grok this.
RPG is fun. MMORPG is even more fun: the world is persistent and the players are real people. These make your game achievements matter more than if otherwise. The game is growth: Leveling up your character, collecting those rare items and obtaining more powerful spells. In MMORPGs, such growth can only be achieved by killing monsters, exploring the lands, hunting or other equivalent "farming" activities. Do enough and you’ll reach the next level, learn new stuff… and then repeat…
At times, these level-up activities can be a real chore - especially when that next level requires just so much more from you (7-digit experience points to level? Fwah!)… then a passing thought: killing these game monsters doesn’t DO anything. I know its a game, but what a waste isn’t it? Thousands of precious hours spent doing… nothing.
What if level-up activities can have some impact in real world, or your real online life? Can there be persistent worlds that better embrace real online activities?
For example, working with rails community site links your online, rails-related activities with your profile. A site is not enough, and there’s still a gap between that and levelling up in a game. It would be ideal to be able to encompass a bigger range of "classes" of people: Level 45 music enthusiast, level 3 technical blogger? Pick one of our (many existing) online personas to "play" in?