Edge writes: "Whether through a literal sense, such as the virtual land grabs in Second Life, or by achieving notoriety on a leader board, most of us have a stake in a virtual world. While nothing new, the rate at which we've devoted ourselves to these communities has exploded in recent years.
The collection of online services, from social networking sites to online gaming, has expanded the role that online communities play in our lives, and how we in turn, play in them.
The online gaming community, in particular, has experienced massive growth in recent years. Record numbers use services such as Xbox Live and the PlayStation network to visit virtual stadiums, racetracks and battlefields. Alongside the straightforward growth in popularity, online gaming is witnessing a peripheral burst of growth in sophistication, where virtual victories lead to very real rewards."