I was reading W. James Au's article on the gaming industry as well as Joi Ito's article and I was struck by two things.
The first was the irony of the fact that if the gaming industry really is as James Au describes it "young gamer dudes, serving an audience of young gamer dudes" that they would not "get" that their audience would have a desire to create their own worlds just as much as the producers of the games do.
The second thing that struck me was actually tied into something I had been thinking of earlier. The social aspect of gaming, and the popularity of networks in general strikes me as being a reflection of the society we live in.
My mom likes to talk about the "front porch" of her childhood where kids would just play in the neighborhood and neighbors would sit on their porches and socialize and keep a general eye on the kids. I am sure there are some places where that still happens but I think more and more people find their social circles based more on interests than on location. With longer commutes and frequent travel it is harder to build a relationship based on physical location alone. When physical space becomes somewhat more irrelevant I think it is natural that we, the social beings that we are, would see a virtual location where we can be together.
Thus even as WoW has its gaming and adventure aspects it also has its social aspects. Second life and There and quite a few others are even more about having your place or hangouts and getting together. It isn't just that gaming is changing but that gaming is replacing a part of culture that was lost when commuting and travel became the norm.