I try to add one new blog post every day, but yesterday I was consumed with meetings and other stuff. However, there was a very interesting News.com story yesterday that I wanted to comment on, so without further adieu... "Virtual epidemics may hold scientific promise" is about how virtual reality plagues can help us study the spread of infectious diseases and how the public responds to them.
When a virtual reality outbreak slammed "World of Warcraft," which is the most successful massively multiplayer online game in U.S. history, many players were instantly affected by the plague, some avoided it by maintaining a distance from the victims, and others used healing spells to help the afflicted recover.
Even though the plague was the result of a bug in the program and was quickly fixed, some epidemiologists and educators believe that the players' reactions to the WoW plague were realistic. "Some say virtual online worlds—where players' economic and social behavior is often a microcosm of their real-world behavior—are a perfect place to compare real-world infectious diseases with those comprised only of digital ones and zeros."
Take a look at the images: Deadly virtual outbreak. Of course, I know my mother would have a clever comeback... perhaps, "Online games might be educational, but eventually, they'll kill 'ya!" ;-)
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Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.