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I am a fan of the Penny Arcade / YouTube gaming series Extra Credits. This week's show covered Difficult vs Punishing. If you have about 8 minutes, take a peek.
Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.