It is hard sometimes to believe that Azeroth has been subjected to savage war after savage war. As I wander the streets of Stormwind I don't see amputees and crippled veterans begging for money, living in hovels. I see school children gaily running through the streets stealing each others' dolls.
Where are the people whose lives were forever changed by these wars. Sure there are some ruined cities and a few quest givers mourn the loss of a son, or husband. There are a few abandoned homes, the body of Mankirk's wife, and a burned out inn but really it looks more like the results of some sporadic raiding not a dimension spanning epic conflict for the very survival of the world.
Where are the camps full of refugees? Where are the mass graves? Where are the wounded veterans, one eyed children, and ravaged battlefields?
Goldshire wouldn't be some fairy tale village nestled in the woods outside the big city it would be a large camp of displaced people hoping to have access to the protection of the city walls. They would be awaiting the next big invasion. It would be overcrowded, food would have to be shipped in. The people would have had no choice but to rape the surrounding land for every ounce of timber or food it could provide. There would be constant tension between the people living in the city and the unfortunates in the rat's warren outside the walls.
The effects of war don't just fade away as soon as the last corpse vanishes from the ground to respawn. A large battle changes the ground it is fought on. A war taxes a country of its wealth and its young.
If you walk around Saigon or even a smaller village in Viet Nam you can make no mistake that the country has been through a war, even though it was 30 years ago. There are wounded people, there are still displaced people, there are even still buildings constructed from U.S. Army Quonset huts. There is practically no sign of this anywhere in WoW. All is a cartoony wonderland.
I am being hard on WoW here only because it is the most visible example. Every MMO is all cause and no effect where almost everything is concerned. However WoW started with the premise that the wars featured in the RTSs had been fought. There is practically no sign that they ever happened.