As an old arcade fanboy and with a house of 4 boys and 1 computer, the highscore table has become somewhat of an icon for me. Being at the top is great, and being not at the top compels me into 'just one more go'. At christmas time we'd gather around someone ELSE's machine and make sure a game somewhere (usually minesweeper) has your name up the top waving down at their attempts.
When we were designing games back in the Uni days, the finishing remark was usually "Slap a highscore table on it and we're done!". Recently though games have been shying away from them, apart from notable exceptions like Bejewelled Blitz, whose highscore table is as compelling as ever.
I'm not sure I've mentioned it, but I've certainly been thinking that roguelikes really need a worldwide highscore table. Yes, there is oook as an upload spot, but in today's day and age I can't see why that couldn't be integrated into the game so that the uploads happen automatically. As it turns out ToME 4 has done just that. An automatic character progress and highscore table, with the promise of more stats to come. It's only been announced so I don't think it impacted on the Roguelike of the year votes, but it certainly will have me playing it more, and donating too.
I still think there's more to go too. World of Goo and Tower Bloxx have integrated highscores to keep you going, whereas Facebook games have a constant reminder of your position relative to friends. Maybe there's opportunity for in-game acknowledgement of a previous owner of an item, or the first person past a certain point?
There's another angle I've been mulling over too. Instead of just a highscore, have the player's story as an output. Some roguelike dumps have all the components required to tell the player's story, but leave them as cold facts sitting in their respective fields. I'm not expecting a quality AAR, but something you could read back on in a couple of months and go, yeah, that was me. I remember that.
More wishful thinking ...