Abraham Maslow was a good storyteller. He told a great story about human motivations as a pyramid of needs -- a lot of people are still hearing that story in Psych 101 classes around the world. Maslow's two basal sets of needs are physiological needs (eating, sleeping) and safety needs. Only after those base needs are met are we motivated to try to address our higher needs, e.g., love and belonging, esteem, and the ever-popular "Self-Actualization." (Are you self-actualized?)
Virtual worlds short-circuit Maslow. The avatar's typist can surely starve and die, but nothing in a virtual world will feed or protect the typist, so actions motivated by the two basal needs in virtual worlds are largely non-existent. (Unless we want to equate representation with reality -- and I don't.) However, love and belonging and esteem are all possible through virtual worlds as social software. Therefore we do see, in guilds and personal relationships, behaviors that we could find motivations for in the higher levels of Maslow's pyramid.
This might, in a nutshell, explain why Dave is probably right in pursuing anarchy and feudalism as alternative forms of good entertainment -- and I'm not just saying that because Dan and I agreed with him in our Legal Affairs article. Violence, anarchy, warfare, and destruction are all great fun to have with your pals in Norrath -- God forbid that anyone try to turn them into a blueprint for real society, though.
But Maslow's story might also be used to explain why virtual worlds are not just games. Avoiding starvation and threats to safety are, for better or worse, not the only motivations for the shape of our real world society. In fact, most people in Western societies seem fixated on other things that may actually have some relation to virtual worlds. So should we care about how virtual worlds are governed? Yes. But caring about them doesn't mean that governments in virtual worlds should look at all like those in the one world where we all eat and sleep.
Updates: 1) The BBC says virtual war is good, 2) Presence ("[A]t *some level* and to *some degree*, her/his perceptions overlook that knowledge and objects, events, entities, and environments are perceived as if the technology was not involved in the experience.")