WoW as an epidemic model

21 08 2007

This looks very interesting; it is about using virtual online games as a model for studying behaviour during epidemics.

Obviously to release a contagious disease into the real world population is unethical and out of the question, but to study it within a virtual environment must be fascinating. You can observe people acting ‘normally’ from any angle because the whole environment is generated. Some people will argue that it is not a ‘real life’ environment, it is a fantasy one, but I still argue that people who have been playing the game long enough (and some of those people have been playing a long time!) have developed their own personas in that environment, become comfortable and therefore will act just as naturally as they would in the ‘real’ world.

This of course raises big questions about what else you can observe about human nature in a virtual environment, but then an ethical point is raised: If this virtual environment is just as valid as a ‘real world’ environment, surely we are intruding on their privacy by observing them? People would object if in the ‘real world’ certain individuals were observed (without their knowledge) for scientific study, so why does the fact that the individuals operate in a ‘virtual environment’ make it any different? It again raises the Big Brother Nanny state debate, but in a slightly different context.

I can see that this debate is going to get interesting.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: