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Modelling Infectious Diseases in Virtual Realities

games, virus
Chaos Communication Congress 24th (24C3) 2007
Indexed on
Mar 27, 2013
File name
File size
1.4 MB

World of Warcraft is currently one of the most successful and complex virtual realities. Apart from gaming, it simulates personality types, social structures and a whole range of group dynamics. In 2005, courtesy of its creators at Blizzard Entertainment, the ancient Blood God "Hakkar the Soulflayer" unleashed a devastating plague, "corrupted blood", upon a totally unprepared population of avatars. Unintentionally, the digital "black death" spread to cities and depopulated whole areas. The epidemic could only be controlled by shutting down and restarting the game world, a measure unfortunately not available in the "real" world. However, other measures such as quarantine or improved treatment are available in the real world and can be simulated by disease modelling. Disease modelling is essentially a virtualisation of reality that tries to gain insights into hitherto unknown inderdependencies and to simulate intervention scenarios. I will give a brief overview of the use of infectious disease modelling in a population and explain the disease dynamics of the "corrupted blood" epidemic in WoW. I will focus on cross references to the "real world" and illustrate why Blizzard, in effect, had created sexually transmitted measles for online denizens.

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