I think EVE provides an ideal balance of possibility space vs. safety in its design. While you can hide behind CONCORD with reasonable safety in high sec, it is much more fun and rewarding to venture into areas with more risk. The mechanics allow for miners, traders, pirates and sovereign alliance wars. WOW!
The social dynamic is the secret sauce for EVE, and the game mechanics ensure that even Corps and Alliances are potentially full of intrigue given the ability for players to scheme, steal, and con their way to riches. This leads to a paranoid feel when you are first getting to know Corp mates or applying for a Corp. Trust is likely the most valuable commodity in EVE, there are even players like Chribba who make their living based on their trustworthiness.
By allowing such varied interaction, EVE deepens the potential relationships and adds meaning to player interactions. What other virtual world has inspired player run banks, investment schemes, mass territorial Alliance warfare, and a complex player managed market? This depth and complexity of possibility distinguishes EVE from the alternatives and makes New Eden a virtual world like no other!