Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reality Check...

So in honour of my reconnection to the internet, I figure that I would share some insights into this odd little story I found passing on the webernets.

If you are too lazy to click that link then allow me to give a quick synopsis. Apparently in the immensley popular World of Warcraft Game a glitch in the game came through and people began carrying a deadly, infectious disease. The first players to get the disease were high level and it didn't affect them a great deal, but they began to share it with other players of much lower level who began to die off in droves. The article also proclaims that I am the coolest person alive, don't believe me? Give it a read!

So you may be thinking that this is no big deal or anything, because a) you already knew how cool I am and b) who cares if a bunch of nerds loose their nerdy characters?

Well first off, it is important because World of Warcraft has over 9 million users, so it is not just a few nerds. But more interestingly than that, this story gives scientists a whole new and unique way to study infectious diseases. Whenever scientists attempt to predict what will happen in the event of another great plaque or anything like that, they are always forced to rely on mathematical models, theory and conjecture. I mean sure they know how fast a disease spreads and how quickly it will kill someone, but they don't really know just how people are going to react to it all.

One of the things that they mention in the article is the so called "Stupid Factor" where a number of people decide that they would much rather risk their own (virtual) lives by logging in and going around to see the carnage first hand, as opposed to just playing it safe and laying low. Sure people would be much more reckless when dealing with their own virtual characters as opposed to their own real lives, but it still is an interesting comparision is it not?

It's not like anyone can morally infest a community with the Avian Flu, but they could easily create some program to infect World of Warcraft, Second Life, or any of other MMORPG (or whatever the heck the akronym is...) to get a much better idea to see exactly how fast a disease would spread and just how a society would handle it.

Sure it could lead to some pissed off computer geeks, but that's ok. They need a tan anyway.

Until next time,


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