Any of you hardcore WoW fans will recall the “Corrupted Blood” plague that was introduced in the world of WoW a couple of years ago. It was essentially a spell cast by a high-level boss that caused afflicted players to lose a certain number of hitpoints every few seconds until dead. The thing is, the spell was viral: if a player got too close to another player, that second player would become infected, too, and so on.
It was a neat idea, and the game makers most certainly did it as an experiment in gameplay. The scientific implications were likely beyond what they were thinking, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. The Lancet Infectious Diseases will be publishing a paper on the virtual effects of the virtual plague in the September issue as a virtual example of how people transmit, handle, and escape epidemics.
It’ll make for an interesting read, and it makes us glad our subscription to The Lancet Infectious Diseases hasn’t lapsed, as our subscription to Big’Uns has.
Scientists Studying Warcraft Plague [kotaku]