Run for your lives - SWINE FLU is here! That's the kind of headline the media has effectively been trumping over the last week or so. But behind the hysterical facade there are people actually trying to figure out how to counter the possible pandemic. And they're finding help from the unlikeliest of sources.
If you haven't heard of swine flu by now then you're either very stupid or very out of the loop. Either way, you're probably one of the lucky ones. The threat of a pandemic is very real, but as we've already seen, the amount of scaremongering and hand wringing over the virus and its spread around the world has been over-the-top and full of misinformation.
Behind the scenes is a different matter, with governments, health workers and researchers working hard to track the virus and if possible slow or stop its spread around the world. Believe it or not, the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) World of Warcraft or WoW is helping.
Canada.com reports that in 2005, a virtual virus tore through the WoW landscape infecting millions of players. It acted in the same way as a real-life plague would, spreading and killing as it traveled around the in-game world. An estimated 6 million of the 6 million players (at the time) were infected, with many of their characters dying as a result.
The virus (Corrupted Blood) was created by the people at Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of the game, in order to weaken some of the overly-powerful characters in the game. Unfortunately the virus also infected any characters who came into contact with these players, no matter what level they were at. The result? Mass carnage.
Blizzard imposed a quarantine to try and stop the spread of the virus but even that failed to do much good. Many players ignored the quarantine completely, while others developed immunity but still carried the virus. Others still chose to flee infected parts of the game to save themselves but ultimately helped spread the virus further afield.