According to another blog Alice quotes, the plague spreads through corrupted blood, and "Some servers have gotten so bad that you can't go into the major cities without getting the plague ".
Comments on Alice's blog wonder when real epidemiologists may use MMORPGs to model the spread of epidemics. Well, possibly in a way they already do (a multi-agent simulation is a multiplayer game, if not always as massively so as the big MMPORGs.) Also I'm not sure how representative the MMORPG players are - are they really a statistically random selection? I'm also not sure how well the rules of WoW - ie their model of 'reality' corrspond to the 'rules' of real life.
One interesting aspect of this plague is that the 'rules' of WoW must be similar to the 'rules' of real life, since the 'plague' seems to behave quite like a real epidemic.
Also, it's another example of how simulated and real worlds are blurring. Here is a computer virus (is it?) behaving like a real virus, infecting avatars, which in turn means that people who are playing the game at low levels (it doesn't kill strong characters) are losing their 'lives' - although for the human players this is only a financial loss, since presumably they then have to re-register and start again.
Lastly, it reminds me of how many alternative worlds there are out there: people for whom this imaginary world (based on real interactions by real humans) is as real as the world outside my window is to me. I don't share their world, nor they mine. I fell mine is more 'real', since I can see it even when my PC is turned off; on the other hand, they are as upset by this virus as I might be if one of my the vines in my garden died.
WoW is published by Blizzard Entertainment, which in turn is a subsidiary of Vivendi. Blizzard is based in Calfornia and employs 150+ people. The company's games also include Diablo and Starcraft.
subscriber base/peak concurrency/area
Does this really mean that at some moments, over 500,000 people are roaming around the imaginary WoW world?
of interest to me was how player behavior changed. apparently those infected with the virus, yet able to withstand it, use their infection as a weapon. not entirely a new idea (it seems i read a book once that had a similar plot element), but when i heard about that, it struck me as being significant... especially now.
i hope people entrusted with our real life security have given this kind of potential behavior the attention it may well deserve. perhaps modeling "real life" simulations sometimes misses the kinds of possibilities that many of us deem unthinkable; after all, acceptable behavior varies by culture. and we've certainly seen recent indications that the unthinkable sometimes happens even within our own culture (e.g. doctors killing patients rather than leaving them to die during the flooding in New Orleans). for me as a designer, problem solving to account for end-user misuse is normal; the phonebooths of yesterday were just as much private conservation spaces as latrines. but prior to becoming a designer, my engineering degree did not prepare me for that kind of thing. so i hope we have some imaginative people working those real life simulations.
and to answer your question: the answer is probably "Yes". not only by those numbers, but by the fact that the base is now over 3 million iirc.
a chilling but entirely realistic thought, csven. In this age of suicide bombers, nothing seems unthinkable any more.