MOM GET OFF THE PHONE I’M ONLINE GEEZ
So I read this incredibly interesting post on Motherboard about World of Warcraft. Bear with me.
In 2005, Blizzard Entertainment released a a new dungeon in the game called “Zul’Gurub” that had a boss who could cast a noob crushing spell: It was called “corrupted blood,” which would infect players and drain their hit points for the duration of the battle. The only problem was that the virus was actually a virus.
A glitch caused any infected player who decided to teleport out of the dungeon without killing or being killed by the boss to bring the disease with them. The spell is highly contagious, so these players immediately spread it to other players, and so on into infinity; zombie apocalypse style.
Researchers saw the valuable information to be learned from such a catastrophic alternative-reality situation like this one and studied the effects of such a swift, deadly virus. The interesting thing is that people reacted much like they would in the real world:
“Some panicked and ran around the game’s crowded city centers in search of a cure, infecting others along the way. Others, sensing the end was near and wanting to ‘grief’ other players, ran into large crowds to infect as many people as possible before exploding into a cloud of blood and dying. And some simply avoided the large cities, remained calm and hoped that the whole thing would blow over.”
The epidemic became so bad that Blizzard was forced to completely reset the affected servers after days of trying to quarantine the contagion. The bad news is that the WOW study shows how “the unpredictable nature of human behavior can make quarantining a deadly infectious disease especially difficult, if not impossible.” Good thing it’s JUST A GAME