Monday, March 19, 2012

Online Epidemic

Dear Ms. Sydell,

I found your article to be extremely interesting as well as thought-provoking. I have always known about the online worlds like World of Warcraft, but never thought about the practical use they might have to the real world. In terms of the epidemic you wrote about in your article, obviously it does not directly translate to a real life scenario. The most obvious reason would be because in WoW, players are able to resurrect their dead bodies. So while the thought of dying in the game is essentially problematic and inconvenient, there is no legitimate fear from the player because they know their character is ultimately safe. I now wonder how the scenario would unfold if the players were told that once their character dies it is gone forever. It would be very interesting if the creators of the game implemented some sort of controlled experiment where players could not resurrect their bodies for a certain amount of time, and had to deal with an epidemic. At the same time, I can see how the current experiment, although an accident, still provides insight into what may or may not happen in a real world situation. As was mentioned in the article, the players have strong connections to their avatars and many were genuinely upset when the outbreak occurred. Something else that was also mentioned, however, is that "one of the hardest parts of researching human behavior is that people often act differently in an emergency than they imagine they will." People can talk all they want about how they will react in an emergency situation, but no one truly knows unless they find themselves in that very situation. I hope that the creators of WoW decide to conduct some sort of experiment involving an epidemic because I think the results would be extremely interesting and informative.


Josh Brooks

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