Modeling Epidemic Spread in Synthetic Populations - Virtual Plagues in Massively Multiplayer Online Games
A virtual plague is a process in which a behavior-affecting property spreads among characters in a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). The MMOG individuals constitute a synthetic population, and the game can be seen as a form of interactive executable model for studying disease spread, albeit of a very special kind. To a game developer maintaining an MMOG, recognizing, monitoring, and ultimately controlling a virtual plague is important, regardless of how it was initiated. The prospect of using tools, methods and theory from the field of epidemiology to do this seems natural and appealing. We will address the feasibility of such a prospect, first by considering some basic measures used in epidemiology, then by pointing out the differences between real world epidemics and virtual plagues. We also suggest directions for MMOG developer control through epidemiological modeling. Our aim is understanding the properties of virtual plagues, rather than trying to eliminate them or mitigate their effects, as would be in the case of real infectious disease.
- Pub Date:
- May 2007
- Computer Science - Computers and Society;
- Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence;
- Computer Science - Multiagent Systems;
- Accepted for presentation at Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) conference in Tokyo in September 2007. All comments to the authors (mail addresses are in the paper) are welcome