Okay, they didn't steal it. But in what's clearly a case of the permanence of ideas and how they bubble up and down through the ages, F. Randall Farmer described in a 1992 paper his experiences as a sys admin in Habitat, where he posits a five-step process, that he calls the "path of ascension", where MMO players progress from "The Passives" to "The Actives" to "The Motivators" to "The Caretakers" to "The Geek Gods". Doesn't sound like LPP enough yet? How 'bout this?
Bartle also cites a similar model from an Ultima Online player, Hedron, who described it as six circles, from Survival, to Competence, to Excel, to Prove Mastery, to Seek New Challenges, to Everything Is One.
"Encourage everyone to move one role to the right, and the result will be a living, self-sustaining and thriving community where new members can always feel encouraged to become vital citizens."
The challenge for all of us, I guess, is to find descriptive models to fit our world into. When Sue Talley was trying to teach me Lave & Wenger and LPP, I only finally got it when a metaphor popped into my mind - the whirlpool (or that large white ball-rolling example of a vortex so common at tech museums). At the edge of whirl, we move slowly in large paths around the center - and not always in a perfectly circular path - but by the time we reach the center, our movement tends toward the tightly wrapped circular motion, rotating at a high speed. What's fascinating to see is that, what ever the model, we all seem to get to the same place.