"I owe much to my online escapes, as they aid me in more ways than just providing a fun distraction. They give me the opportunity to appear as I truly feel inside, and let me interact with others without the stigma of being or appearing to be transgendered attached. Beyond just me, however, are hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even millions of individuals who have gained an advantage or some sort of insight thanks to virtual worlds."
On the one hand, the anonymity of the avatar can break down some social boundaries for people. But then you also have phenomenon like the borderline 'racism' between player factions like the Horde and Alliance being created within those same games. The fact that a MMO can allow people to explore an alternate identity as well as provide a way for people to show their true character is really fascinating. Who hasn't felt somehow more 'liberated' through an avatar? But conversely, who hasn't also made assumptions about others based on their avatar?