Now this is something that could potentially provide endless debate fodder. While stumbling around the web, I came across this page; a collection of term papers written by undergraduates at San Antonio's Trinity University for the class "Games for the Web: Ethnography of Massively Multiplayer On-line Games".
The subjects addressed include "Sexism in WoW", "Real World Transactions of Digital Items from MMOGs", "The Prisoner's Dilemma and Factional Conflict in World of Warcraft", and my personal favorite, the oh-so-socially relevant "Wizards vs. Engineers: The Rumble in the Proverbial Jungle". There are several others covering a wide-range of topics; I haven't had the time to read them all yet, but since I eat this stuff up, I might not get much work done today.
Of course, the real question this begs is: why couldn't assignments have been this cool when I was in school? Do you have any idea how severely the nuns would have beat me if I had asked to write my term paper on a video game?