Aug 21, 2007

[Gaming] Virtual plague lends new insights into epidemics

A mistake in a challenge to high-level players in a popular massive, multiplayer, online role-playing game (MMORPG) has led to new insights on how a new epidemic may spread.

Reuters reports about how the "Corrupted Blood" challenge led to an accidental virtual plague in World of Warcraft.

Here is the variable that researchers will have to factor in soon - the stupid factor:

"Someone thinks, 'I'll just get close and get a quick look and it won't affect me,'" she said.

"Now that it has been pointed out to us, it is clear that it is going to be happening. There have been a lot of studies that looked at compliance with public health measures. But they have always been along the lines of what would happen if we put people into a quarantine zone -- will they stay?" Fefferman added.

"No one have ever looked at what would happen when people who are not in a quarantine zone get in and then leave."

(Curiousity might have killed a cat, but stupidity could kill millions of them.)

Anyway, this virtual accident can hopefully help us in predicting and preventing an epidemic. BTW, the Reuters report ended in an ominous tone - we are ripe for another epidemic. Scary.

(Crossposted from here.)

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