Yeap. After experimenting with Second Life (again) for 9 months, I'm shifting my leisure activity back to a polished game while I await the release next year of the Star Wars MMOG.
Yes, I research in WoW at times. More often, however, I still play it for fun.
Why? It runs smoothly and looks great. I know that the art style is not for everyone. It is a little more cartoon-like than, say, Guild Wars or Lineage. But there are still many times when I move into an area and just look around, appreciating the hard work some artist put into designing even out of the way, infrequently visited areas. It's lovely, and is a special break in the middle of winter in the northern US. For people who live in urban areas, I imagine this aspect is even more compelling.
The game has many dimensions and appeals to many levels of game play from casual to hard-core. Depending upon my mood, I can run around an unspoiled wilderness to explore, fish, and gather herbs or engage in a major battle to free a fortress with a hundred other close friends and allies. This explains some the game's huge popularity, and a reason why my family all plays it together. Anyone can legitimately participate in the game and can pick the activities and level of difficulty that suits them.
You can even decide, strangely for a multiplayer game, how socially you want to play. My husband generally plays by himself, happily completing quests and depressurizing from his very social and stressful job. Where my daughter and I tend to be more social players, actively contributing to our guild's progression through the hard, end-game battles.
And, it is simultaneously, a place where I can go to challenge myself to master skills I'm not good at (a hunter who cannot kite or jump-shot ....oy!) while also ensuring that I can accomplish something and mark it off my "to-do" list even if the rest of the day has been a bust.
So, it is a game I come back to again and again for recreation between bouts of playing other games for work. A rough life, I know. But someone has to play the other games to explain them to you!