Vernor Vinge (his importance is described nicely here) has a nice article on the Internet as the ultimate “Creativity Machine” — and the place of MMOGs in it.
The possibilities do not end there. Even online games are attracting academic interest. Some games have millions of players. MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest, feature vivid three-dimensional action involving both cooperation and combat. Another genre of MMORPGs lack a significant combat or quest element and are more often called ‘virtual worlds’. For example, the virtual world Second Life has the visual realism of many MMORPGs, but it exists as a venue for the participants rather than as a pre-designed adventure. Second Life provides a range of software tools, including a programming language, that gives participants the power to create artefacts according to their own designs. Thus the game depends on the skill and creativity of its participants to generate content. Such virtual worlds have already been used for educational projects, and are worthy of psychological and social research.