I've always wondered about effects (i.e. both good or evil) of video games on our daily life. Being an avid video game player, I would always love to see something good happening out of video games.
Recently, I came across this peice which talks about how the World of Warcraft (a very popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game ala Second Life) helped the Epidemiologists understand the cause-effect of virus outbreak in real world in 2005. Apparently, there was a bug in WoW, which being tied to the gaming characters, started spreading in the virtual world like a real world virus. Soon the Epidemiologists around the world were taking interest in this developement as the symptoms were very close to the real world virus outbreak (like rapid contegious infection, malicious infection, bystanders-curiosity, psychology of infected & uninfected crowd etc.). Finally, the infection was cured with the help of patches, guidelines, vaccines etc.
The whole episode was very useful to the researchers since any research lab simulation of the outbreak of this magnitude involving real-life human subjects would be very costly & time consuming. The virtual outbreak research gave vital points about understading & controlling the infection in real life. You can read the whole trivia here. (Note: You will have to click 'World of Warcraft' option to get the whole story)
Thoughts to take home with you:
- Can there be a similar simulation wherein researchers could evaluate effect of security incident (e.g. security breach OR password compromize in social networking sites like Facebook etc.) ?
If you happen to know more such incidents, please let everyone know via comments below.