Some of you may or may not have heard that the next co-chair of the FCC transition team for the Obama administration plays World of Warcraft. This, in and of itself, is not news. But the way in which he plays does make a difference. It signals a major transition of what social activities men use to keep up with each other.
More often than not, a generation or two ago, golf was the major shared activity that lots of men used to facilitate hours of social interaction. There are entire literatures based on the bonds made over a round on the links. Massively-Multiplayer online games share many of the same attributes as golf, but allow for people to get together from anywhere in the world to play together. They both take a few hours to complete, involve a good amount of social interaction with your fellow players, aren't particularly physically challenging, and appeal to wealthy-enough people that can afford the necessary tools for playing (clubs or computers).
I won't go into way too much detail because this topic has been covered by people paid to write well about it, but I will say that I have noticed this trend quite a lot amongst my peers. One of the big reasons I play World of Warcraft is to keep in touch with a couple of close friends that live in Boston. We often fire up our computers, set up our headsets and microphones, and talk about any sort of thing while we work together to kill a big dragon.
Now that I'm out in California it gives us some common ground to talk about, which keeps the lines open and leads to closer, more personal conversations about things above and beyond just the game.