Immersion into altered realities is not only large in sci-fi but a strong theme in Cory Doctorow's DOIMK. However, not everyone wants to get on a computer and hang out in video game in the Elf community dedicated to magic, mystery and big hair. I think this landmark interview is more then a cutesy gimmick. It takes gaming beyond mainstream entertainment and it becomes a new form of recreation and social interaction albeit virtual.
Imagine the first TV talk show to interview only avatars. Or the first avatar talk show host. Or your daughter introduces you to her new boyfirend, and your not shocked when you find out he is an avatar? How about avatar rights? Chatrooms and Net Cafes with "no avatar" buttons.
The advent of high speed processors, low cost hardware, and budding imagery technology, mean logging in and checking out is becoming bigger. Also having more impact.
I have found it surprising how many friends and aquintances spend serious time gaming. Especially those who you would not normally associate with that recreation.
UPDATE: Check out 3D IM avatars that you can dress?
Also see a Creative Commons License 'ap that allows you to register from inside the game?