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World of Warcraft's Corrupted Blood Plague, Useful for Scientists
Friday 31 August 2007 - 13:53:00

We all know why gamers play World of Warcraft... It's because the game features a virtual world that allows you to be whoever you want to be and really live a character's virtual life. While many see WoW as a method of social isolation, it turns out that the game can help scientists save lives. You might remember the famous "Corrupted Blood" disease that spread within World of Warcraft in 2005.

It was the first
disease in an MMORPG to have a massive effect on the majority of players. Thousands of unlucky gamers had their characters killed by this uncontrolled plague. Of course, chaos was wrecked and every player tried to stay away from the infected creatures and cities. Quarantine measures were used and the gamers really took the whole thing seriously.

This phenomenon hit the news and scientists were able to use the data collected by studying the virtual plague in order to figure out how people behave in the case of such disasters. In WoW, for example, there were gamers that sacrificed themselves, trying to save others, while hundreds of players migrated from the infected areas. Of course, the frustration of some gamers led to crazy ideas, like infecting everyone around on purpose, just for kicks.

The epidemiologists were fascinated by the social behavior of the gamers during the plague and, since you can't simulate a real deadly contagious disease otherwise, they took notes and developed theories, which will prove useful in case some Resident Evil-style virus breaks out of the research labs. After all, most of the harm during the spread of such a plague is done through the chaotic human behavior... Now, scientists can predict how future large-scale diseases will change our actions and mentalities and it's all thanks to good old WoW.

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