Online gaming is not just gaming, but participating in a social experience with other players. To that end, many non-verbal forms of communication are lost through the online experience, which can lead to distrust and eventual meltdowns in the social constructs of an online game. Meeting other players face-to-face in a real life gathering serves to put a face to a name and is beneficial to both game communities and the overall success of the online game. Read D-Mail #6 on the importance of real life player gatherings.
Why real life events? Why do we really care about 'real life' if we are playing virtual games with virtual toons collecting make believe items? We care for several reasons. First, we aren't just playing games; if we were, then MMOG's would not exist to the extent they do today because all we would need are good single player games. Rather, we are playing a social experience.