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InvisibleDiploidM
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Registered: 01/09/03
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Fantasy Plague Models Real Life Epidemics
    #7317898 - 08/21/07 03:22 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

A FANTASY plague that accidentally ran amok in the Internet's most popular game world, populated by nine million flesh-and-blood players, may help scientists predict the impact of genuine epidemics, according to a study released yesterday.

Virtual playgrounds such as World of Warcraft, launched in 2004, could soon become testing grounds for the real battle against bird flu, malaria or some as-yet-unknown killer virus, said one of the study's authors, Nina Fefferman of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

"This small step towards the interaction of virtual viruses and humans could become highly significant," Professor Fefferman said.

The unlikely path to a collaboration between hard science and hard-core gaming began in late 2005, when programmers from Warcraft's manufacturer, Blizzard, introduced a highly contagious disease - dubbed "Corrupted Blood" - into a newly created zone of the game's Byzantine environment.

World of Warcraft is an online role-playing game in which players - numbering in the tens, or hundreds of thousands - use computer-controlled avatars to fight battles, form alliances, and dialogue on the Internet.

At first, the "patch", as new elements such as the disease are called, worked as expected: experienced players shrugged it off like a bad cold, and weaker ones were left with disabled avatars.

But then things spun out of control.

As in reality, some of those carrying the virus slipped back into the virtual world's densely populated cities, rapidly infecting their inhabitants.

The disease also spread - much like real influenza or the plague - via domesticated animals abandoned by players for fear of infecting their avatars, leaving the sickened pets to roam freely.

Programmers tried to set up quarantines, but they were ignored.

Finally, they resorted to an option not available in the real world: they shut down the servers and rebooted the system.

"This was the first time that a virtual virus has infected a virtual human being in a manner resembling an actual epidemiological event," said Professor Fefferman.

To date, epidemiologists have relied on mathematical simulations to forecast the spread of contagious diseases. But this has its limitations, says Professor Fefferman.

"There is no way to model how people will behave" in a public crisis, she said.

"We don't mean to suggest that people's reactions in this game would exactly mirror their reactions in real life.

"But I think it is the closest thing we have to something that people really do become emotionally invested in protecting."

news.com.au


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Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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OfflinePhanTomCat
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Registered: 09/07/04
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Re: Fantasy Plague Models Real Life Epidemics [Re: Diploid]
    #7319055 - 08/21/07 09:09 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Someone at work showed me a game, or I guess more like an online community program called "second life" a few months ago....
Sounds like the perfect sort of testing grounds for something like this, as it is more of a virtual life thing - from what little I saw....


>^;;^<


--------------------
I'll be your midnight French Fry....  :naughty:

"The most important things in life that are often ignored, are the things that one cannot see...."

>^;;^<


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Invisibleadrug

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 15,800
Re: Fantasy Plague Models Real Life Epidemics [Re: PhanTomCat]
    #7319134 - 08/21/07 09:25 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Yeah, all those people have virtual herpes.


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OfflinePhanTomCat
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Registered: 09/07/04
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Re: Fantasy Plague Models Real Life Epidemics [Re: adrug]
    #7322776 - 08/22/07 08:19 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Second Life Simplex #2....?

:tongue:


>^;;^<


--------------------
I'll be your midnight French Fry....  :naughty:

"The most important things in life that are often ignored, are the things that one cannot see...."

>^;;^<


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