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WoW Outbreak Studied by Pandemic Researchers

I find this article so extremely fascinating. I'm not too far into WOW right this sec, but apparently a later boss casts a debuff called Corrupted Blood, which can be transferred among other players if they get too close. Seeing as the whole event works like a real disease, scientists are actually studying the way in which the debuff spread through WOW to see how real life diseases might spread, and steps that could be taken to contain it. Very interesting.

From the article:

Scientists studying the possibiliy of pandemic disease have turned to an unusual test group: World of Warcraft players.

As reported by Reuters, researchers Nina Fefferman and Eric Lofgren of Princeton University are looking into the September, 2005 outbreak of Corrupted Blood within WoW.

Corrupted Blood was a debuff cast by a high-level boss which could be spread from one character to another if the characters were too close together. It could also be spread to pets. Within a short time it had been carried out of the boss instance and into the larger WoW cities where it proved devastating to lower-level characters. Said Fefferman:

It really looked quite a bit like a real disease… Someone thinks, ‘I’ll just get close and get a quick look and it won’t affect me.’

Now that it has been pointed out to us, it is clear that it is going to be happening. There have been a lot of studies that looked at compliance with public health measures. But they have always been along the lines of what would happen if we put people into a quarantine zone — will they stay? No one have ever looked at what would happen when people who are not in a quarantine zone get in and then leave.

With very large numbers of players (currently 6.5 million for World of Warcraft), these games provide a population where controlled outbreak simulations may be done seamlessly within the player experience.

Read the full article over at gamepolitics.com