What We Can Learn About Epidemics From The ‘World of Warcraft ‘ Online Game

In 2005, a highly contagious disease spread within the fictional world of the massive, multiplayer online game. Scientists later studied players’ reactions to understand how humans might react in a real-world scenario.

By Kristen CabreraMarch 12, 2020 5:41 pm, ,

As coronavirus concerns be come more widespread, large events are being canceled, workplaces are urging employees to work from home and schools have made plans from remote education. It’s hard to remember a time when people and organizations took such precautions.

But for some folks in the gaming world reactions to the coronavirus may not be surprising. And perhaps what the world is going through now is replicating an incident in the massive, multiplayer online game, “World of Warcraft,” 15 years ago. The 2005 “Corrupted Blood” incident intrigued epidemiologists so much that they later studied players’ in-game reactions, which ranged from self-quarantine to actively spreading the disease.

Tech expert Omar Gallaga says “what it demonstrates and what was interesting to researchers is that you can’t really predict accurately how people will behave.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why epidemiologists and other researchers became interested in the gaming incident

– How current coronavirus precautions jibe with fictional precautions taken during the “Corrupted Blood” incident

– Whether it’s fair or responsible to compare real-life epidemics with fictional ones


Written by Kristen Cabrera.