Developers and fans of hardcore, sandbox online games like EVE or Ultima Online – emergent, changing worlds born from dog-eat-dog player interaction – like to dismiss the more populist virtual worlds, like World of Warcraft's, as "theme parks".
The implication is that they're kiddy activity centres where every event has been designed by committee and carefully stripped of personal risk, and where nothing ever really changes. After you've killed the biggest dragon in the world, you can get off the ride, rejoin the queue and do it all again. Hell, the polygons probably have padding. That's not real life!
Well, no. It's a game. Horses for courses, but it's always struck me as a curious insult; theme parks are, after all, supposed to be magical and exciting escapist wonderlands where the fun never stops. If I can have that without paying 10 dollars for a Coke and wading through thousands of human bodies to get to the entertainment, sign me up.