Digital plague hits online game World of Warcraft
For those of us interested in things like Artificial Life and Complexity, this is just fascinating.
Fortunately, the epidemic was not real, but the aftermath of an inadvertent digital plague caused by a simple change to the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, World of Warcraft.[THX: bruce_schneier.]
The change? Giving a monster the ability to curse in-game avatars with a self-propagating, albeit temporary, disease. While the developers only intended the disease to affect the group of characters fighting the monster, the infectious malady quickly became a tool in the hands of malicious players known as griefers, who found ways to bring the digital virus into heavily inhabited areas of the world.
For a week, the efforts of malicious players left behind massive casualties, made cities nearly uninhabitable, and became a reminder of the uncontrollability of self-propagating code.