It is my firm belief that if an MMORPG is to become successful it needs to take a closer look at the deep psychological reactions that occur between game environments and the players. We don't need amazing coders or big name producers we need connections on an emotional level which can only come from a psychological background. Here is something I recently read on the subject...
I will briefly talk about a few of the points mentioned within this study.
First is collaboration. The article mentions different types of collaboration created by different circumstances. For instance the "crisis situation". This is the typical MMO-encounter. Life-or-Death situations. This only applies to group encounters. A solo encounter may trigger some of the same "fight-or-flight" reactions from the user, but there is no collaboration and therefore no connection on an emotional level.
Entrepreneur collaboration. Some like to call this "interdependence" and hate its guts. But the truth of the matter is it is a large part of the community/economy/emotional building blocks.
Both the negative and positive aspects of gaming were touched on. Saying that some person comes along and overwrites all your buffs and talks down to you (because they are higher level) is part of the emotional experience. When a game creator goes out of their way to create solutions to these problems they restrict the emotional response of it's players.
Instances would be a good example of this. People were overcome with rage/anger that they had to compete over limited resources (named mob spawns, resource spawns, etc) and the game creators invented the instance. There, your problems are solved... as they placed each kid in their own sandbox filled with their own toys instead of telling them to "play nice".
Of course motivations were discussed as well. What motivates you to keep playing? 90% of the gameplay we see today revolves around a system called "risk vs. reward". If you risk your life you are rewarded. This has real life application too, seen more as risk taking or gambling. The problem is the risk is greatly reduced in a virtual world and the reward is greatly increased.
You can read the finer details yourself. But the main point here is that when game designers sit down and want to make a new MMORPG do they say "What emotional experience should we provide our players?" or do they say "What would be cool?"