The untapped potential of virtual game worlds to shed light on real world epidemics. Lancet 7:625-629

Tufts University, Бостон, Georgia, United States
The Lancet Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 22.43). 10/2007; 7(9):625-9. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70212-8
Source: PubMed


Simulation models are of increasing importance within the field of applied epidemiology. However, very little can be done to validate such models or to tailor their use to incorporate important human behaviours. In a recent incident in the virtual world of online gaming, the accidental inclusion of a disease-like phenomenon provided an excellent example of the potential of such systems to alleviate these modelling constraints. We discuss this incident and how appropriate exploitation of these gaming systems could greatly advance the capabilities of applied simulation modelling in infectious disease research.

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Available from: Eric T Lofgren, Dec 17, 2013
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    • "A similar effect was observed in World of Warcraft (a web-based multi-player game). When a plague of ‘Corrupt blood’ began to kill up to half of the players, they began to avoid big cities [103]. "
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    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences 02/2011; 366(1563):389-401. DOI:10.1098/rstb.2010.0117 · 7.06 Impact Factor
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    • "Once there, they infected the other players, typically killing everyone. This incident garnered academic attention because it offered a possible parallel to real-world epidemiological patterns (Balicer, 2007; Lofgren & Fefferman, 2007), yet some of these researchers took the mapping principle on faith, assuming that the virtual behaviors had fidelity to a real-world context. Some focused instead on the mathematics of the potential tests. "
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    ABSTRACT: Virtual worlds have exploded in popularity and drawn attention from researchers as worth studying in their own right. An additional, more radical form of scholarship has also emerged, namely, using virtual worlds to study real-world behaviors. If valid, this would enable using virtual worlds as “petri dishes” for communication scholars. However, there are several necessary conditions to be met first. The most fundamental is the establishment of a “mapping principle,” or the extent to which behaviors in one space are consistent with behaviors in another. This article outlines the mapping principle, spells out potential misuses, and offers a systematic exploration of validity and reliability issues. With those laid out, a research framework for mapping is presented. Le principe d’application et un cadre de recherche pour les mondes virtuels La popularité des mondes virtuels a explosé et les chercheurs considèrent aujourd’hui qu’ils méritent d’être étudiés en eux-mêmes. Un secteur de recherche plus radical est également apparu, qui propose d’utiliser les mondes virtuels pour étudier les comportements dans le monde « réel ». Si elle s’avérait valide, cette proposition permettrait aux chercheurs en communication d’utiliser les mondes virtuels comme des « boîtes de Pétri ». Toutefois, plusieurs conditions indispensables doivent d’abord être respectées. La plus fondamentale est la création d’un « principe d’application », c’est-à-dire qu’il faut déterminer jusqu’à quel point des comportements manifestés dans un espace sont en accord avec des comportements manifestés dans un autre. Cet article expose brièvement le principe d’application, en explique les possibles mauvais usages et offre une exploration systématique des enjeux de validité et de fiabilité. Une fois ces éléments exposés, un cadre de recherche pour l’application est ensuite présenté. Das Prinzip der Abbildung und ein Forschungsprogramm für virtuelle Welten Virtuelle Welten werden immer populärer und ziehen die Aufmerksamkeit von Forschern auf sich. In diesem Zusammenhang ist eine ergänzende, radikalere Form der Wissenschaft entstanden, die virtuelle Welten nutzt, um realweltliches Verhalten zu untersuchen. Wenn diese Prämisse stimmt, würde uns das befähigen, virtuelle Welten als ,,Petrischalen“ für Kommunikationswissenschaftler zu nutzen. Dennoch müssen erst verschiedene notwendige Bedingungen erfüllt sein. Zuallererst die Schaffung eines ,,Prinzips der Abbildung“ oder das Maß, zu welchem ein Verhalten in einer Welt konsistent mit dem Verhalten in der anderen ist. Dieser Aufsatz befasst sich mit dem Prinzip der Abbildung, stellt möglichen Missbrauch vor und bietet eine systematische Aufarbeitung von Validitäts- und Reliabilitätsaspekten. Auf Basis dessen diskutieren wir ein Forschungsprogramm für Abbildung. El Principio del Mapeo Resumen Los mundos virtuales han explotado en popularidad y han llamado la atención de los investigadores como merecedores de ser estudiados por su derecho propio. Una forma adicional, más radical de erudición ha emergido también, a saber el uso de los mundos virtuales para estudiar los comportamientos del mundo real. Si válido, esto permitiría usar los mundos virtuales como “placa de Petri” por parte de los estudiosos de la comunicación. Sin embargo, hay varias condiciones necesarias que primero deben ser cumplidas. La más fundamental es el establecimiento de un “principio de mapeo,” o el punto en el cual los comportamientos de un espacio son consistentes con los comportamientos en otro. Este artículo bosqueja el principio del mapeo, explica los malos usos potenciales, y ofrece una exploración sistemática de los asuntos de validez y credibilidad. Con esto expuesto, un marco de investigación sobre el mapeo es presentado.
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    • "Existing research on virtual worlds straddle several academic disciplines, ranging from law (Balkin 2004; Boonk and Lodder 2007; Grimmelmann 2004) and medicine (Lofgren and Fefferman 2007) to economics (Bray and Konsynski 2008) and computer science (Friedman et al. 2007). The diversity of these disciplines suggests increasing interest among researchers in different fields, as well as the breadth of opportunities presented by virtual worlds to practitioners in these disciplines. "
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