In Exodus to the Virtual World, Dr. Edward Castronova explores a possible future wherein participation in virtual worlds and MMOs becomes so widespread that major social effects are felt here in the real world. He suggests that as more people spend more time in virtual worlds, they will come to expect the real world to provide many of the conveniences of those virtual worlds: more fairness, more opportunity, more fun. This, he theorizes, will lead to a conflict over attention between the real and the virtual, with the real world being forced to adopt social policies inspired by game design.
The author frequently suggests that game designers may be better-equipped than most to handle the social policy issues of the 21st century and beyond. As a game designer, I found this rather gratifying, though I remain skeptical whether it's actually true. However, the parallels he draws between social policy design and virtual world design are compelling, and many of the mechanics we find today in virtual worlds and MMOs are in fact elegant solutions to social issues that have yet to even be well-addressed in the real world.