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Virtual game is a (real life scenario) ‘disease model’
Posted: 21 August 2007 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]
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VIRTUAL GAME - ‘Disease Model’

Virtual game is a ‘disease model’
 
Scene from World of Warcraft
Scientists believe the game error could offer a valuable insight

How it reflects reality
An outbreak of a deadly disease in a virtual world can offer insights into real life epidemics, scientists suggest.

The “corrupted blood” disease spread rapidly within the popular online World of Warcraft game, killing off thousands of players in an uncontrolled plague.

The infection raged, wreaking social chaos, despite quarantine measures.

The experience provides essential clues to how people behave in such crises, Lancet Infectious Diseases reports.

In the game, there was a real diversity of response from the players to the threat of infection, similar to those seen in real life.

 
The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously
Professor Nina Fefferman, from Tufts University School of Medicine

Some acted selflessly, rushing to the aid of other characters even though that meant they risked infection themselves.

Others fled infected cities in an attempt to save themselves.

And some who were sick made it their mission to deliberately infect others.

Researcher Professor Nina Fefferman, from Tufts University School of Medicine, said: “Human behaviour has a big impact on disease spread. And virtual worlds offer an excellent platform for studying human behaviour.

“The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously, even though it was only a game.”

She acknowledged that a virtual setting might encourage riskier behaviour, but said this could be estimated and allowed for when drawing conclusions.

Constraint

She said a major constraint for epidemiologists studying disease dynamics at the moment was that they were limited to observational and retrospective studies.

For example, it would be unethical to release an infectious disease in real life in order to study what the consequences might be.

Computer models allow for experimentation on virtual populations without such limitations, but still rely on mathematical rules to approximate human behaviour.

A virtual world may be a way to bridge this gap, said Professor Fefferman.

Her team at Tufts are looking to use models such as the World of Warcraft to further study human behaviour, particularly in relation to disease outbreaks.

Dr Gary Smith, professor of Population Biology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, has been working on modelling infectious diseases.

He said: “Very few mathematical models of disease transmission take host behaviour into account.”

But he questioned how representative of real life a virtual model could be.

“Although the characteristics of the disease could be defined before hand, once released into the virtual world, the study is just as ‘observational’ as disease outbreak studies in the real world.

“Nevertheless, I suppose one could argue that the proposal describes an opportunity for study that we might not otherwise have.”

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Posted: 21 August 2007 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Who would have thought that WoW could have any use beside being a breeding ground for squealers.

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Posted: 21 August 2007 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I can’t afford WoW downer

Stupid money making %*&%

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Posted: 21 August 2007 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That might be the coolest thing I’ve ever read.

I can just imagine if your character had obvious in-game symptoms and people started forming quarentine zones, PKing anyone who came near with the disease.

Man, this is cool.

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So I can just type anything and it will show up here?

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Posted: 21 August 2007 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It would be so fun, Speaking ofwhich I havn’t done any PKing in 10 months… downer

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Posted: 21 August 2007 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I can see scientists setting up their own WoW type thing and recruiting people to play so they can input events and study the reactions.  Beats the hell out of computer simulations because they would be dealing with real people then.  ok quasi-real..

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Posted: 21 August 2007 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yeah, that’s the problem. You’re talking about a game world where killing your fellow man has no moral or societal repercussions. I’m sure the scientists can get some interesting info from it, but I would be fairly skeptical of any results of those experiments.

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So I can just type anything and it will show up here?

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Posted: 21 August 2007 11:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Two words about how valid studies of behaviors in the Online world really are:

Leeeeeeeeeeeeerooooooooooyyyyyyy
Jeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnkkkkiiiiiiiinnnnsss!!!!

If there is still any doubt, check out how they react to an online funeral in WOW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d49yYs_7Dbo

Interesting information perhaps, valid in relation to a real-life outbreak, ummmm, are the scientists themselves maybe playing too much WOW?

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Posted: 22 August 2007 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Who’s up for a round of Stick Arena?

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Posted: 22 August 2007 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Transfrmr - 22 August 2007 03:38 AM

Two words about how valid studies of behaviors in the Online world really are:

Leeeeeeeeeeeeerooooooooooyyyyyyy
Jeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnkkkkiiiiiiiinnnnsss!!!!

If there is still any doubt, check out how they react to an online funeral in WOW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d49yYs_7Dbo

Interesting information perhaps, valid in relation to a real-life outbreak, ummmm, are the scientists themselves maybe playing too much WOW?


Leroy Jenkins is one of my favourite videos of anything. If I’m ever in a situation where I’m going to have to run like a loony sword waving into a room filled with monsters (again) then I’ll do it screaming “LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOOOY JEEEEEEEEEEEEENKINS”.

And if you hold a funeral in a PvP area of any game you’re asking for trouble.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Renquist - 22 August 2007 11:47 AM

Leroy Jenkins is one of my favourite videos of anything. If I’m ever in a situation where I’m going to have to run like a loony sword waving into a room filled with monsters (again) then I’ll do it screaming “LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOOOY JEEEEEEEEEEEEENKINS”.

And if you hold a funeral in a PvP area of any game you’re asking for trouble.

I definitely agree, but I thought they were both accurate examples of why any “social behavior” study performed in a virtual environment that was based on a game like WOW would be inherently flawed as far as real-life applicability.

A better experiment would be to set up a virtual environment specifically for the purpose, with morals, and virtual policemen, and the like. Of course, this would be quite boring, but you could run through all kinds of scenarios. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, diseases, and even outbreaks of really really bad pop bands wink

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Posted: 22 August 2007 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Transfrmr - 22 August 2007 01:16 PM
Renquist - 22 August 2007 11:47 AM

Leroy Jenkins is one of my favourite videos of anything. If I’m ever in a situation where I’m going to have to run like a loony sword waving into a room filled with monsters (again) then I’ll do it screaming “LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOOOY JEEEEEEEEEEEEENKINS”.

And if you hold a funeral in a PvP area of any game you’re asking for trouble.

I definitely agree, but I thought they were both accurate examples of why any “social behavior” study performed in a virtual environment that was based on a game like WOW would be inherently flawed as far as real-life applicability.

A better experiment would be to set up a virtual environment specifically for the purpose, with morals, and virtual policemen, and the like. Of course, this would be quite boring, but you could run through all kinds of scenarios. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, diseases, and even outbreaks of really really bad pop bands wink

Why won’t social studies work on WoW?

Because 90% of them are dicks LOL

I’m not a huge fan of MMORPGs.

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