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  • It's the crack of dawn, and you've just turned up at the headquarters of the Center

  • of Disease Control and Prevention.

  • On any other day, you'd still be in bed right now, but this isn't any other day.

  • An urgent meeting has been called to discuss a mysterious pandemic sweeping the world,

  • and it's down to people like you to stop it in its tracks.

  • You were tossing and turning all of last night trying to think of a solution, but you've

  • got nothing.

  • The situation feels absolutely hopeless.

  • You walk into a meeting room and there's a sea of worried faces.

  • These are some of the most intelligent and hardworking professionals you know, but they

  • all have bags under their eyes and disheveled hair.

  • You probably look ten times worse.

  • As the Director begins his address, everyone sits in silence, transfixed on his every word.

  • He talks about how the outbreak most likely traces back to a diseased animal transmitting

  • to a human: a simple accident with overwhelming consequences.

  • It originated in a faraway nation but spread like wildfire after officials failed to quarantine

  • those in the affected city quick enough, with many contaminated people fleeing to other

  • cities or nations.

  • Now, it's finally arrived here.

  • It's weird.

  • Failed quarantines, rapid spreading, origins in animalsit's all sounding strangely

  • familiar, yet you can't put your finger on why.

  • It's like you've lived through this before, but you can't have.

  • Sure, there have been a few outbreaks of diseases in your lifetime, but that's not what you're

  • thinking of.

  • That's when it hits youyou almost jump up in the meeting with excitement.

  • You have lived through this beforeonly, not in the real world.

  • In World of Warcraft.

  • Back in your awkward teenage years, when you still had the time to devote to something

  • other than working for the CDC, you'd spend endless hours on that game.

  • And you'd never forget the scenes that went down when an unexpected plague broke out

  • A new raid for highly-skilled players had been launched, and you're not embarrassed

  • to admit you were one of the first players to give it a go.

  • It was only for users of a certain caliber, but of course that included you.

  • And so, along with 19 other players, you headed off to a dungeon called Zul'Gurub.

  • You ventured into the deepest realms of the jungle, fighting off various trolls along

  • the way.

  • But you knew you were yet to meet your greatest enemy.

  • After heading deeper and deeper, you finally found the dungeon and your adversary: a giant

  • winged serpent called Hakkar the Soulflayer, an ancient Blood God

  • Now, it was just between him and all of you.

  • Eyes on the prize, you were ready to give everything you had into defeating this monster.

  • But as soon as you launched your attack against you, you were struck by a spell that immediately

  • resulted in 300 points of damage.

  • A few seconds later, you lost another 300 hit points, and you noticed the same thing

  • happening to the other players.

  • This was more than just a spellHakkar was spreading a plague called Corrupted Blood,

  • and it was one of the most virulent you'd encountered.

  • To defeat Hakkar, speed was of the essence.

  • Although your total level was just over 4000 hit points, you'd be sure to die in just

  • a few minutes if the plague continued to sap your points at this speed.

  • But as soon as you killed him, it would destroy the plague and cure you all.

  • Even though it was just a game, you were determined to win, and you barely blinked away from the

  • screen as you engaged in combat.

  • This was game on!

  • Yet you couldn't help but notice something strange happening.

  • Some of your fellow teammates were summoning their pets.

  • Why?

  • Pets weren't going to help win this fight.

  • It made no sense, and it was annoying they weren't trying as hard as you, but whatever.

  • Head in the game.

  • After just a minute or two of fighting, all the players in your raid were losing their

  • hit points rapidly.

  • Everyone had caught the plague, either directly from Hakkar or from each other.

  • You watched hopelessly from your swivel chair as your character on-screen began to gush

  • blood.

  • But Hakkar was losing his strength too.

  • If only you could carry on for a few seconds longer.

  • Finally, the serpent fell to the ground, and you breathed a sigh of relief.

  • Hakkar was dead, and like magic, the Plague had vanished.

  • You were still extremely weak and down to your last few hundred hit points, but at least

  • now you could heal.

  • You began to make your way out of the dungeon.

  • Another quest done.

  • That was that!

  • At least, that's what you thought

  • You arrived in a nearby city expecting to find life going on as normal, but instead

  • there was complete mayhem.

  • Throngs and throngs of players on screen were bleeding and dropping to the floor, dying

  • before your eyes.

  • Skeletons were scattered all around . Straight away, you suspected this was the Corrupted

  • Blood plague.

  • You had no idea how it had entered the city, but you knew you didn't want to run the

  • risk of catching it again, so you teleported away without a second thought.

  • What was going on?

  • In 2005, the games developer Blizzard didn't think they were doing anything revolutionary

  • when they introduced a new dungeon raid into the popular World of Warcraft game.

  • All they wanted to do was create a challenge for high-level players, so they created a

  • plaguesomething that would aggressively tear down the health of the players until

  • they defeated the character transmitting the plague.

  • Because the opponent had to be defeated so quickly, it added an extra layer of difficulty.

  • The spell should have resulted in one of two possible outcomes: the players dying of the

  • plague or Hakkar being killed.

  • Simple, right?

  • Except it wasn't.

  • Blizzard had missed one essential detail that allowed the disease to spread outside of the

  • dungeon, creating the first virtual pandemic known to man

  • As well as the technical glitch, Blizzard made another fatal error.

  • They assumed players wouldn't want to spread the disease.

  • A logical assumptionthere was no rational reason to spread the disease.

  • The problem is that humans aren't always rational.

  • The company had unwittingly created the perfect environment to safely study a pandemic: a

  • complex virtual environment with millions of real people making decisions.

  • The more you thought about it, the more similar it seemed to what's happening in the real

  • world, although now slightly more was at stake.

  • Maybe you could apply some of the lessons learned

  • You successfully escaped from the big city into the countryside without contracting the

  • disease, and now you had some time to think.

  • If everyone really was dying from the Corrupted Blood plague, how had it escaped from the

  • dungeon?

  • You messaged a few of your in-game friends, knowing a few of them had also completed the

  • quest.

  • One of them replied immediately, explaining that some of the people in his raid had been

  • purposely getting their pets out during the fight until they caught the plague, and then

  • summoning them to the cities and joking about it.

  • A few minutes later, another friend admitted he'd tried the same trick himself, out of

  • curiosity for what would happen.

  • It turned out that pets could contract the disease, and users had managed to spread it

  • because the effect of the plague went on pause whilst the pet was dismissed, then returned

  • once it was summoned elsewhere.

  • Well, that explained why some of the players on your quest were fiddling around with their

  • pets instead of focusing on defeating Hakkar.

  • But why had it even crossed their mind to try and spread a disease around on purpose?

  • To be honest, it was pretty annoyingall you wanted to do was get on with the game

  • like normal, but some utter pricks had tried to be clever and ruined things for everyone

  • else.

  • Now, the same guy who had purposely spread the disease from the dungeons into the city

  • was saying he wanted to go the center of the mayhem to see what was going on for himself.

  • This guy had at least twice the number of hit points you did, so he wasn't too scared

  • of the plague and thought he might be able to heal himself.

  • While he went ahead, your other friends teleported to the countryside where you were, a safe

  • space from all the craziness.

  • A few minutes later, Blizzard sent a message to all users announcing that a quarantine

  • was now taking place in the most infected cities.

  • To prevent the disease spreading further, nobody should leave those areas until they

  • were able to fix the problem.

  • Incredibleeven the game developers were struggling.

  • Surely they'd fix this soon.

  • Next thing you knew, your friend had appeared in the countryside out of nowhere, saying

  • Blizzard hadn't actually banned teleportation out of the infected cities.

  • And a few seconds later, you started to lose hit points.

  • Oh, great.

  • So your so-called friend had now infected you all just for a joke, and there was probably

  • no way to get rid of the plague now.

  • Unsure of what to do, you logged out and hoped for the best.

  • By allowing pets to get infected, Blizzard had committed a fatal error.

  • There was no sensible reason for players to summon their pets to different destinations

  • whilst they were in the quest, but like we've already established, people aren't always

  • rational.

  • Lots of the players were just looking for a bit of mischief.

  • Once these pets arrived in the big cities, they infected low-level players, who died

  • instantly from the plague due to their low number of hit points.

  • Non-player-controlled players were infected tooand because they couldn't die themselves,

  • it allowed them to spread to even more users.

  • There was no cure for this horrible plague that had swept across the virtual land.

  • Although many Healers had rushed to the aid of dying players, the Corrupted Blood plague

  • was a typeless debuff, meaning it was almost impossible to heal.

  • And by keeping those who were infected alive for longer, the healers ended up doing more

  • harm than good.

  • Other players realized they could make themselves immune by flagging themselves as being on

  • PvP mode.

  • But this was only a temporary solution, as those who wished to spread the disease eventually

  • cottoned on and flagged themselves too, so they could continue spreading.

  • The pandemic showed some interesting results about the psychological reactions of humans.

  • Some people rushed to infect as many people as possible, whilst others tried to help.

  • Many people chose to ignore the quarantine that was imposed, thinking of themselves and

  • not the wider societal implications.

  • Maybe behavioral science is just as important as the biological science and epidemiology.

  • You should probably mention that in the meeting.

  • But anyway, what became of the disease?

  • After searching through a few forums, you finally accepted there was nothing you could

  • do to stop yourself from dying of that stupid Corrupted Blood plague.

  • Your friend was also doomed to die of course, but he didn't seem to care.

  • You turned up in a graveyard as a ghost and had to look for your dead body to resurrect

  • yourself.

  • This was why you hated dying.

  • By the time you'd resurrected yourself, a few hours had passed, but the pandemic was

  • still spreading around like wildfire.

  • Feeling you couldn't trust anyone, you looked for another remote corner and decided to wait

  • it out without alerting anyone about your whereabouts.

  • After browsing a few forums, you saw other users posting screenshots of some of the towns

  • that had been quarantined, where the pavements were white from the vast number of skeletons.

  • It seemed like everyone was still ignoring the quarantines, too.

  • What was going to happen?

  • The Corrupted Blood incident affected around four million players.

  • The main reason the disease had spread so quickly was the reaction of the users.

  • Many people who had been in the big cities at the time of the outbreak chose to ignore

  • the official advice and escape to safer areas, but this had spread the disease further.

  • One tiny accident had snowballed beyond belief, and it had done so extremely quickly.

  • The root cause of the plague had been animals, but it had spread further because of humans.

  • That sounds very familiar, too

  • Of course, the stakes are higher in real life.

  • Hopefully, not many people would try to spread a disease on purpose just for a laughbut

  • it only takes one crazy person to cause a world of damage.

  • And almost as dangerous are those who ignore official warnings and spread the disease unwittingly.

  • Come to think of it, the teleports in World of Warcraft serve a pretty similar purpose

  • to real-life airplanes.

  • Eventually, Blizzard fixed the problem using a simple solution: resetting the computers.

  • Maybe all those hours spent playing World of Warcraft weren't such a waste of time

  • after all.

  • People might have laughed at you once, but now you're one step ahead of themyou've

  • lived through this before.

  • Now, you've just got to figure out how to switch off the computers

  • Now for more about plagues check out why the Spanish flu killed so many people or what

  • made the Black Death so deadly.

  • Click one now, before the global pandemic gets us all!

It's the crack of dawn, and you've just turned up at the headquarters of the Center

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このビデオゲームはどのように米軍のCOVID-19との戦いを支援しています。 (How is This Video Game Helping US Military Fight COVID-19)

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    Summer に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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