Whoever thought 'viral' could become an even dirtier word?

Ha. I waited ages to make that joke. Nicely gone off the boil now, though. We got a nice "don't worry about swine flu and for god's sake, wash you hands" email in the office, promptly setting off a torrent of jokes. Isn't it wonderful how a minor crisis sets of the comedian in all of us?

-Tried to ring the phone line, got crackling
-Something about a black guy being president when pigs fly, swine flu etc.
-Summer seems to be trotter than it was last year
-Seems like avian flu has come 'back' for more
-'Snout that bad

...okay, the last three didn't happen. I just wanted to see if there's any stray drops of pun to be wrung out here. But it's got everyone thinking about other pandemics, as well it might. For my part I humbly submit possibly the best and yet least-researched internet phenomenon - the World of Warcraft Corrupted Blood Outbreak.
Here is a picture of lots of dead people. If only characters stayed dead in WoW, the plague might be considered a mercy.
How fantastic is that? The Corrupted Blood incident is, apparently, lauded as the first "real world" event in the game - that is, the first gamestate where the parameters of reality rather than fantasy were what caused players to adopt certain behaviours.
Briefly: A curse that killed players over time was introduced into a new, high-level area. The idea was that the characters in that area were strong enough that they'd certainly be hampered by the affliction, but it wouldn't actually kill them - not if they were careful. But Blizzard (the developers) tried something knew with this curse - it was, as the WHO would say, Level 5: "Human-to-human transmission in at least two countries".
The idea being that players within the area would 'infect' each other and it would all be a really exciting laugh, though nothing serious.
But, as anyone who saw 28 Days Later knows, you can't contain a virus forever. Evil life found its dastardly way, incubating within the summoned creatures and pets of characters, escaping the area and spreading across the other, low-level areas, where characters who 'caught' it were too weak to, well, not die. A map of the virus' spread would be so cool, but alas, none.
The coolest thing was in the way people reacted:
-A couple of the early carriers adopted a malicious Patient Zero-like attitude, purposefully infecting as many as possible before they were put down by vigilante mobs.
-The well-meaning players attempted to heal the sick, almost certainly at the cost of their characters.
-Plenty of people ran for the hills. Cowards.
-Blizzard attempted to enforce a quarantine - which, you guess it zombie fans, was broken by some idiot and caused chaos, since it allowed the virus into areas where players has been deliberately packed into a high density.
Couldn't find a good video, so just watch this and pretend it's nerdier:

As an epilogue to this, the Corrupted Blood Incident has been used a springboard by anthropologists who may now use online world to test models of both viral infection, and terrorist cell formation.
How cool is that?
Shh, it is.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is really cool how people behave in these fictitious scenarios. QQ (a Chinese version of msn, more or less) launched a online tamagotchi/second live thing (really popular, my mum s hooked). Anyways, at first she was so mean and stingy to her tamagotchi (which is polar opposite to her real personality) and now, she´s so fond of it that she´s raising it the same way she raised me (ie focus on: education, education, education).