World of Warcraft as disease prevention model
August 21, 2007
Despite many claims to the contrary, World of Warcraft isn't a disease, though many of us have been inflicted by a feverish desire to hunt Murlocs. The story here, as reported by the Times of London, is that researchers are studying the recent "Corrupted Blood" incident in the game as a model for analyzing the outbreak of infectious diseases in the non-virtual multiplayer world known as real life. For a detailed background on the in-game plague and its consequences, click here.
From the Times article:
The discovery, revealed in next month’s issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, has been hailed as a significant step forward in understanding how a deadly virus could break out.
“By using these games as an untapped experimental framework, we may be able to gain deeper insight into the incredible complexity of infectious disease epidemiology in social groups,” wrote the authors, Eric Lofgren, of Rutgers University, New Jersey, and Nina Fefferman, of Tufts University, Boston.
In March of this year a similar study of the WOW outbreak appeared in the journal Epidemiology paralleling the Corrupted Blood incident with the recent SARS and avian influenza outbreaks. Laura Sydell from National Public Radio also reported in 2005 on scientific interest in the outbreak in her story 'Virtual" Virus Sheds Light on Real-World Behavior.