Posted on August 21, 2007,

Scientists Call WoW Corrupted Blood Epidemic a Disease Model


Hakkar the Soulflayer was a name of absolute frustration, maybe even panic, for many. The Corrupted Blood debuff in World of Warcraft was much like a virus, and those affected by the outbreak will always remember how everyone, well, freaked out.

Now, interesting to note, some scientists are calling the Corrupted Blood epidemic a disease model.

“Human behaviour has a big impact on disease spread. And virtual worlds offer an excellent platform for studying human behaviour,” Nina Fefferman, a Research Professor at Tufts University of Medicine, told BBC News in an article today. “The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously, even though it was only a game.”

Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games have been rife for study for areas like economics and sociology. Take the work of Edward Castranova, for example, being the first to cite statistics which shockingly placed Everquest as the 77th richest country in the world back in 2002. But it seems no one in the medical field, save for affects of addictive gaming on actual human beings, has looked within an MMO for real data before like this.

Scientists may very well use this virtual construct in the future to observe behavioral patterns based on human beings’ reactions to outbreak of viral infection. Since it would be unethical to release something like this on an unsuspecting public, virtual society would be a good opportunity for a study such as this one.

“Although the characteristics of the disease could be defined before hand, once released into the virtual world, the study is just as ‘observational’ as disease outbreak studies in the real world,” Dr. Gary Smith, professor of Population Biology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the BBC article. “Nevertheless, I suppose one could argue that the proposal describes an opportunity for study that we might not otherwise have.”

So the question is, how exactly would one go about conducting such an experiment? Are they just going to “borrow” Second Life for a while and see how people behave after their skin starts breaking out in boils?

via BBC News

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6 Comments on Scientists Call WoW Corrupted Blood Epidemic a Disease Model


On August 22, 2007 at 9:01 am

Do you think the game will still be fun to play with the release of more of these epidemics? Or will WoW become too stressful, like real life?
Today’s Mumbo Gumbo comic addresses this question too:


On August 22, 2007 at 11:55 pm

runescape better


On November 20, 2007 at 12:57 am

lol im sorry guys but its just a game i say that if people overreact to games then they should not be playing them, and should get some help. WOW IS JUST A GAME! ok just a game and nothin else…..


On July 16, 2008 at 11:35 pm

runescape is a joke Ive played flash games made better and with better graphics…honestly its terrible wow id rather play n64


On April 28, 2009 at 10:32 am

I think that they should make a aplha-test with that disease.
If people likes it then they could use it in towns for pro’s.

A Kid

On January 29, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Oh, come now. I don’t play World of Warcraft (though I do play “The West”), but I say that it isn’t overreacting.

If you play a game like this, you will want your player to thrive. Not because you feel you actually have to (unless you have indeed become addicted), but because that is the goal of the game. Reach the top.

While having your character die from an in-game disease has no effect on your real life, it is quite a detriment to that (unless you find the challenge of avoiding the disease fun). Thus, why not take the precautions to get the heck out of that area?