The Daily Grind: Do MMOs belong in the mainstream?

Age of Conan on The Big Bang Theory. Second Life on The Office. World of Warcraft on South Park. The Guild transforming into an internet phenomenon. The Simpsons and FoxTrot creating parodies of virtual worlds.

It seems as though everywhere we turn, MMORPGs are toeing the line between niche and mainstream, especially thanks to the whirlwind of WoW. As MMOs become less of a fringe activity and more accepted in popular culture, I have to ask -- is that a good thing? After all, geeks are highly protective of their territory, often seeing themselves as the faithful guardians of That Which Society Rejected. To suddenly see that pastime become accepted and embraced by the crowd may prove disorienting -- and even disturbing.

So do MMOs belong in the mainstream? As they become more widespread, is there something essential that's being lost in the translation? Are the faithful guardians resentful of MMO devs who may cater to the casual crowd over them? Is there a risk of overexposure and backlash? Won't somebody please think of the children?