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August 20, 2007

Virus hits World of Warcraft

still from World of Warcraft. Image available under Creative Commons at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonassmith/135785143/

[Note: I originally mistakenly thought it was the plague itself that happened in the past few days. Actually, the plague happened back in 2005, it was the scientific analysis of how WoW players reacted to the plague that was new. I've corrected the post. Chris S.]

There was a devastating plague a couple of years ago, one that claimed the lives of thousands of victims. Haven't heard about it? That's because the virus happened online, in the virtual world called World of Warcraft.

The so-called "corrupted blood" virus spread rapidly and wiped out WoW players online avatars.

As disruptive as the computer virus has been, it's been a godsend for epidemiologists who study how people react to the threat of disease. For instance, according to a story about the outbreak on the BBC website, some players tried to come to the aid of infected players, while others fled WoW cities where the infection has taken hold.

Scientific American has an additional article on the outbreak.

(Image by Agent Smith/flickr.com)

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at August 20, 2007 09:48 PM


Okay, this is entirely weird, but surely the best sentence in the BBC article is the final one:

"In May 2000 many players of The Sims were outraged when their game characters died because of an infection contracted from a dirty virtual guinea pig."

Not 100% certain, but I'm guessing that until now (or at least the year 2000) no one had ever used the phrase "dirty virtual guinea pig."

Posted by: G. L. Dryfoos at August 21, 2007 05:56 AM

You're right! My bad, the plague did happen back in 2005. It was the analysis of players in-world reactions that recently came out. Apologies all. I'm correcting the original post. Thanks Cass!

Posted by: Chris Spurgeon at August 26, 2007 01:22 PM