Jane McGonigal gives a fascinating talk about the "superpowers" cultivated by the game-playing masses (more than 500 million with another billion coming up in the next decade!). Obviously we all have the image of the gamer locked in his mother's basement, endlessly pawing away at an electronic reward system, like a hamster. McGonigal's takeaway is a little different though.
She emphasizes the motivation, inspiration, and social purpose built into game play. I think that's an interesting take. When I talked to an early pioneer of these games, he said that "we knew they were addictive from the beginning", but it sounded like the dirty little secret that no one wanted to admit.
So, I think the interesting question is whether the virtues of gaming (along the lines of motivation and engagement) can be transferred to real world activity without the addictive over-use that leads to unhealthy, sedentary life. Maybe as technology comes out of the basement and into the palm of your hand more readily, this is becoming a more reasonable goal.
Anyway, her talk is definitely worth watching (oh, and the sheep knuckles tie back nicely into Herodotus for a lesson on real world gaming!):