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Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Sep;7(9):625-9.

The untapped potential of virtual game worlds to shed light on real world epidemics.

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  • 1InForMID, Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.


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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