"The brick can never become Luke Skywalker, but Luke Skywalker can become the brick."
This quote from Alex perfectly encapsulates the reason that attaching Story to a toy set like Lego is an incredible value add. (edit: I mean to say it creates value. oops.) The Story serves as a Point of Departure from which the imagination is unleashed in a play space.
Ricky's ability, as he told us, to create elaborate stories and characters out of anonymous Lego bricks, is a great example of meta-creativity - or the formulation of a meta-history which is flexible enough to admit change and disruption (or the addition of new and different Legos.)
What the Bionicle story enables is an immediate and common PoD for a mutual play space - at least as a starting point - for all Bionicle participants. Whether that story is faithfully built upon (or deserted in favor of having a Bionicle tea party) is completely up to the individual. Beginning with a story is like having a compass. It orients the user without being didactic.
On the work/play front, I'm thinking about the ideas of social and cultural capital as sufficient "compensation", rather than getting paid for your contributions in a user-created/remix/gift/CC economy. One possible reason for seeing this form of _willing_ exchange (I'm not talking about ripping or stealing here, but producing content without financial compensation) blossoming on the web is that social and cultural capital are much more measurable online than offline. A few examples:
Social Capital: friends and contacts lists - think MySpace, Facebook, MSN, Friendster, Second Life
Cultural Capital: page visits, search hits, page ranks, and reputation ratings (eBay)
Our social and cultural status can be gauged much more explicitly online. Maybe the idea of putting your "heart" in your work, or extending yourself through time and space, or achieving immortality, or whatever you want to call it, is analogous or complementary to the urge to build up social and cultural capital. Online, the results are obvious.