While health care professionals spent last week figuring out how to staunch the spread of swine flu, a team of Canadian scientists already knew how to handle the outbreak. In 2007, the researchers studied the spread and containment of a deadly virus in an area even more important than Mexico or Asia: the World of Warcraft.
According to Canada.com, the researchers studied the spread of a virus introduced into the game by design, to limit the power of very advanced characters (I guess the Sword of a Thousand Truths was unavailable at the time). Unfortunately, the virus spread out of control, infecting high- and low-level characters alike.
The game designers attempted to quarantine infected players, but many characters broke the quarantine, eventually leading to the "death" of millions.
The article says that the virtual virus caused many realistic effects. "Some virtual characters spontaneously developed immunity but were still carriers -- just as would happen in the real world. Some characters' virtual pets became carriers, just as could happen in the real world."
The researchers believe they can apply what they learned from the study to the organization of actual quarantines in the event of a pandemic. However, it seems their discoveries about the immune systems of flying unicorns may be of less help with swine flu.
what in the WORLD do you mean by saying that WoW is "an area even more important than Mexico or Asia"?
There was a huge debate raging in-game about introducing an in-game version of a virus that's killing people all over the world. Perhaps Blizzard should have notified us that this was being done to benefit researchers--players would have been much more forgiving. As it was, I spend a couple hours on each day and completely missed the outbreak. What outbreak?
Concur with the above commenter. WTH do you mean "more important than Mexico or Asia"? How are people supposed to take that?
Kudos on the "Sword of a Thousand Truths" reference!
I was always intrigued by the stories of using Second Life and WOW to test mass hysteria. I think WOW was also used earlier to predict human reactions to things like Hurricanes or terrorist attacks.
@dontbother & @Eruantalon27:
Two of the writer's greatest tools -- sarcasm and a sense of humor =D
Good job doing research on this article. And by good job, I mean horrible job. You found information about this at canada.com? Like you, they clearly have no idea what they're talking about. In their article they state that player death in World of Warcraft results in the loss of items and strength, which is completely untrue. It also states (which you quoted) that certain characters could get the disease but "spontaneously developed immunity." This is also untrue. There was no spontaneous development. The spell (which, after all is just a bunch of lines of code in a program) was only designed to harm player characters, and the characters which were "immune" were non-playable characters, so there was nothing "spontaneous" about it.
You also say that the spread of the virus lead to the death of "millions." Again, this is untrue. This only happened on a few servers because the monster that cast the spell was hard to even get to. As far as I can remember, only a few servers had the problem before Blizzard patched it away. Each server has, at most, a few thousand players. I'm not so great at math, but I know a few thousand isn't a million.
Now. Next time you decide to write an article, how about doing a little bit of research? Heck, Canada.com even gives a name to the outbreak, "Corrupted Blood". Two seconds on the Wikipedia page about this incident (which is the top Google result for "corrupted blood") proves the majority of your facts wrong.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not an insane WoW fan. I haven't played for a long, long time. Heck, I even find it really interesting that researchers are studying WoW to learn more about the spread of disease. But considering there are over 10 million WoW players out there, MANY of whom I am sure read articles on your site, and you just showed your complete inability to spend even ten seconds learning a little bit about the game... I don't know, what does this say to you? Good job with your sloppy journalism.