There has been quite a buzz in the WOW blog community lately about changes to the game coming in Cataclysm that are going to make it slightly less annoying to die. These changes are minor, like adding a group resurrect spell that a guild can cast periodically or other similar conveniences. The big thing that many people seem disgusted about is that death in WOW it isn't a big deal.
The complainers tend to focus on the fact that WOW isn't dangerous. If you wander around in the world you can generally fight anything you find and usually several enemies at once without being in any danger of being killed. Scouting, hiding and sneaking are patently unnecessary as everyone just runs to the next monster and blows it up without thought or care. The complainers tend to be angry that the world isn't full of danger and wonder. They seem to want to explore a world where every battle should be planned, enemies avoided unless necessary and players who misstep surely die. They also want that death to have some kind of punitive penalty aside from simply time spent getting back from the graveyard.
These people seem to want to roleplay as Frodo Baggins. They want to be important and make things happen but they want the world to be extremely dangerous and to be forced to rely on stealth to survive. They are in the minority of course, because most people who play WOW and other online fantasy games want to roleplay as Aragorn. The average person is very used to a world where getting into a fight is dangerous and foolish and being careful and crafty is the order of the day - it is called real life. These average people want to feel like the sort of person that simply chops an orc in half if it gets in the way and goes in search of the real bad guy, someone with mystical powers and a story to be told.
In this I am in the same boat as the average person. If I wanted to explore strange places I could do so without leaving real life, they exist all around me. If I want to be careful and avoid confrontation I can do that here too. The thing I can't do in the real world is be a hero. I can't be better than the mass of dudes out there and smash them aside without fear. I cannot forgo compromise for confrontation and have things go well in real life, but in a fantasy world I can be a paladin who has principles that cannot be denied and powers that must be reckoned with.
I don't need death to have a crushing penalty for me to avoid it since death itself costs me twofold: First, in failure. I hate to fail and I strive to the utmost to avoid it. Secondly death costs me time. Time is a resource I never have enough of and cannot buy so I certainly do my best to avoid losing time to being dead. When I am Redcape and I walk across the world mauling those monsters who dare to oppose me I know that the Lich King awaits and that he is incredibly powerful. There are dangers and dark beasts out there that I must fear, but I don't need to fear every random orc I come across to enjoy the World of Warcraft.