World of Warcraft plague

August 22, 2007

I'm an extremely casual player of World of Warcraft (I was kicked out of my guild sometime in the past year for inactivity, but didn't notice that).  I don't have the best equipment because I don't put in the time to hone my skills or grind out for good stuff.  And my favorite happening in World of Warcraft so far has been the unexpected plague that was unleashed in the game a couple of years ago.

Anyway, it seems like some real research has been done on that outbreak, it could be a good read.  Being a casual player, I don't think I'll mind the next part too much, but the hard core folks might not enjoy it.

On balance, the analysis in Epidemiology felt that virtual worlds might provide a useful supplement to traditional models of disease spread, and suggested working with game programmers to test a variety of disease conditions. "Multiplayer online role-playing games may even be useful as a testing ground for hypotheses about infectious disease dissemination," the author said, "Game programmers could allow characters to be inflicted by various infectious diseases, some of which may not be visible to the player, and track the dissemination patterns of the disease in specific subpopulations." It looks like something of the sort is in the works. A report from the Agence France-Presse indicates that Nina Fefferman, a researcher from Tufts University, is currently negotiating with Blizzard about running epidemiological tests in WoW.

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