World of Warcraft paving the way for virtual disease studies

In September 2005, World of Warcraft servers became host to one of the most freakishly awesome emergent mmo events ever, the Corrupted Blood plague. Essentially a harmful debuff from the boss Hakkar in Zul’Gurub, a new instance location at the time, Corrupted Blood had the characteristic of being able to spread from player to player. It was eventually spread outside of the instance through the use of bugged pets, where getting your pet debuffed and then dismissing it allows you to summon the pet later on with the debuff still active.

After the plague made it out of Zul’Gurub, it began hitting major cities and locations where players accumulated. The resulting epidemic threw the WoW servers into disarray, with Blizzard attempting to impose quarantine locations and players variously attempting to infect others and to go loner to avoid infection.

Apparently, the Corrupted Blood plague caught some peoples’ attention, because it’s now the subject of a new study by The Lancet Infectious Diseases group. To see the study requires registration, but here’s an excerpt:

Simulation models are of increasing importance within the field of applied epidemiology. However, very little can be done to validate such models or to tailor their use to incorporate important human behaviours. In a recent incident in the virtual world of online gaming, the accidental inclusion of a disease-like phenomenon provided an excellent example of the potential of such systems to alleviate these modelling constraints. We discuss this incident and how appropriate exploitation of these gaming systems could greatly advance the capabilities of applied simulation modelling in infectious disease research.

This isn’t the first study of the incident, either. The Center for Disease Control and others have similarly requested the data in the past. I’m hoping the next time something like this comes up we get a massive zombie armageddon scenario.

via [BBC News]


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.