Virtual outbreaks, real world ramifications

日期:2019-03-02 02:20:01 作者:谭坪偏 阅读:

By Kim Coppola UNTIL that fateful day, 20 September 2005, the disease was unknown. But once the outbreak began, its effects were devastating. For many, the infection was lethal. Dying victims oozed contaminated blood through their skin and anyone coming into contact with it quickly succumbed. It all began when a group of adventurers encountered a deadly virus while exploring a labyrinth of caves. When surviving infected explorers made it back to civilisation, they initiated the outbreak. Travellers spread the word, and the disease, only boosting the carnage and the outbreak to epidemic scale. In the busiest towns, bodies piled high. This is a true story. But there’s a good reason you may not have heard about it. The disease took place inside a computer game called World of Warcraft, a virtual world where upwards of 7.5 million people log on to live fantasy lives where they kill monsters and collect treasure. The disease, christened the “Blood Plague”, was made by Blizzard, the game’s developers. It was supposed to be just a bit of a fun – and to remain within the caves. When it spread, catching Blizzard programmers by surprise, it inspired scientists to look at virtual worlds as a new place to conduct serious research on people’s behaviour. In the future, subjects as diverse as government decisions on how to contain a disease and theories of social behaviour could be based on knowledge gained through experiments in the virtual world (see “Online obedience”). Of course, computers have long been used to model the real-world spread of disease. For example,