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Virtual Worlds Contribute Research for Science

Believe it or not, over the years virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft, have contributed to research and development for the medical sciences.

Introduced in September of 2005, ‘Corrupted Blood’ (a spell which became a virus in the software itself), occurred as a result of combat with a boss called Hakkar the Soulflayer.

The spell was originally created to present a greater challenge for high-level players within a specific dungeon. In an unforeseen twist, the “virus” escaped and wreaked unprecedented levels of havoc in the game world, wiping out huge numbers of low-level players and leaving entire cities uninhabitable.

The above video shows the infection in action.

The infection raged, causing social chaos, despite quarantine measures. Back in the real World, this experience has provided essential clues as to how people behave in such crises, Lancet Infectious Diseases reports. In the game, there was a real diversity of response from the players to the threat of infection, similar to those seen in real life.

Even though the epidemic was virtual, it still provided fascinating insight into real-life epidemics, said Dr. Nina Fefferman at GDC 2011’s Serious Games Summit. Fefferman, an assistant professor at the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources at Rutgers University, explained, “World of Warcraft had at the time a really unique demographic composition. It wasn’t the stereotypical game.”

8 Years on and the influence of the virtual worlds on the Real World continue to grow. VR for Good from Oculus is one such example of VR practices and filmmaking being used to further the lives of others. The Creator’s Lab gives creatives and developers the opportunity to envisage their ideas:


Check out more about VR in our latest story.


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