As mentioned in last week's post, I've been playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate lately. I think it's a really well done game. It's also a refreshing take on the whole level-up concept, in that your character never improves -- your play improves.
This is accomplished by having a single unwavering base stat: defense 50. Every increase on top of that is either your gear (which gets better as you earn rare ingredients and forge new pieces), or you as a player. I find this concept fascinating. Not only does it (kind of) model real life, but it rewards the player for their dedication. It removes the concept of 'character' and replaces it with 'avatar' -- and MH3U's ability to change your hairstyles at will reinforces this. Your avatar is an expression of you, rather than a living, breathing entity of his/her own. I think that's something that most MMOs are sorely missing.
Anyways, I just wanted to highlight this idea. It's really neat to me, and fosters some interesting emergent gameplay.