Real life is real and it is not a game based on chance.
The RPG genre (of which MMOs are the newest incarnations) are not real and they are a game based on chance.
A few crude examples:
- When you drive to work every day do you roll a d% to see if you make it there alive?
- When you eat a sandwich, do you roll a fortitude save to not get poisoned?
- Do you buy tons of flour, yeast, sugar and salt to grind your way to making a perfect roast? (I loved that cartoon, wish I had a link to it right now)
It is escapism because it's not real. It's a way to pass through life without facing it and it's a very common situation now a days. Add a touch of narcisism and denial with the real possibilities to escape from the real world and you have yourselves our times.
I'm sorry to shed such negative light on it but it's a social problem and denying won't do us any good.
I threw the wikipedia links in there to show I'm not making this up, virtual-selves is a problem and "it's just a game" or other cliches are oversimplifications to a greater problem.