While he is skeptical, we would like to posit that it does matter a great deal -- or at least that it should. Graphics alone shouldn't lead to a strong distinction when the fundamentals are the same, so let's consider the modern MMO to be part of the same tradition as the MUD -- let's say that this is the MMO's 30th birthday too.
Unfortunately, the era before EverQuest -- nay, before World of Warcraft - is largely forgotten to most inhabitants of virtual worlds today. The most old-school folks around might when pressed remember Ultima Online, but The Realm? Meridian 59? Not so much, and certainly not the pre-graphics era.
Developers and users are only just beginning to scratch the surface of potential in virtual worlds and online games, but it's hard to look forward without first looking back and asking some questions. Where did the conventions and elements we take for granted originate? Have they existed in every game? Were there some elements that fell by the wayside that deserve to be revisited?
Take this evening as an opportunity to do some digging, if you'd like, to find out more about how all this got started! There's a lot of forgotten wisdom to be had, and a lot of modern assumptions to be challenged.