Today on KS: So a Scientist Walks Into a WoW Plague…

Today on Kill Screen, we talk to Rutgers epidemiologist Nina Fefferman about her research on a real outbreak of a disease known as “Corrupted Blood” that ravaged the community about five years ago. Below, two excerpts on the utility of studying online communities and another on griefing:

All told, how helpful have games been to you as an epidemiologist?

 It’s like people say when you’re drunk-it’s not you, either. Games are a more extreme version, because you can role-play in a different light, but still your sensibility and your moral core is there, especially in these big games that go on for years. If you’re a level 60 paladin, that’s something you’ve put a lot of work into, and you’ve got friends of that character. Even if you wouldn’t behave that way directly, that’s how you interact. It’s a glimpse into people’s personality.

But is that behavior useful to study? 

Separately from the risk proposition, we can learn from the risk and from griefing. There’s some misconception that griefing wouldn’t happen in the real world. But that’s not true. It’s just motivated differently. Typhoid Mary was a griefer. It’s not that she was malicious out there, but she knew she was sick and she didn’t stop. The city of New York said that she couldn’t be a cook, and she didn’t stop…..

Read more here.