by Brice Chandler
Virtual and augmented reality is stepping through our doors. While it’s not a complete immersion into a virtual world as what’s described in my novel, Where Fallen Angels Lie, or a slew of other sci-fi and fantasy books, movies, anime, etc. It’s here and it’s going to become more common. I hope someday we’ll be able to slip into an alternate virtual world, that is, if we dare.
Why would anyone not want to delve into a virtual world? A place where we can have no fear of dying and can live out our wildest dreams? It sounds great. Well, I’ll give you a reason: Virtual zombies.
Don’t laugh. It could happen. Viruses and other malicious attacks have plagued technology for some time. Almost everyone familiar with social media has heard of a family member or an acquaintance being hacked and their profile taken over. People have lost significant sums of money to hackers who have stolen credit card numbers or assumed their identity.
So how does this come close to virtual zombie plague? In September of 2015, the popular computer MMORPG, World of Warcraft, experienced an epidemic of sorts known as the Corrupted Blood incident. It was an unintentional side effect of a spell casted by a boss during a raid. The spell drained hit points from the player, and it was also highly contagious. The unintentional part occurred when non-player characters (NPCs) such as pets and minions carried the spell outside of raid area thus setting the stage for a virtual pandemic.
The spell was spread to other players as well as NPCs who showed no signs of infection. Many low level players were killed as a result, while higher level players worked in shifts to keep the infected alive. Game programmers imposed quarantines, populated cities where abandoned, and some stopped playing the game altogether. After a week the plague was contained but the damage was done. Eventually, the effects of the plague and how it spread (accidently and sometimes on purpose) became a model for real world epidemic research.
Where Fallen Angels Lie, addresses what would happen if a zombie plague took over an advanced virtual reality game where the players are completely immersed, and the virus is threatening to spread across the entire internet, maybe even into the real world.
It makes a person consider: What if the players lost control of their avatars and devoured others? They could log off, right? Well, what if they couldn’t? Even though it’s easy to turn off the power from today’s virtual reality headsets, your zombie avatar could take over and continue to spread the plague. Imagine a virtual version of Facebook decimated with avatars that have been ran through a Walking Dead profile pic changer. It might become a place where no one interacted – a social media wasteland.
Do you think a zombie virus from a video game with the potential to jump across to different platforms and hardware (a smartphone even) would be frightening? I do.
Brice J. Chandler is a Mutant Zombie advocate and also a US Marine Corp veteran. He has worked in factories and as a pewter-smith before graduating from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His military background and work experience are often reflected in his writing. Although he writes in many genres, he considers zombie, apocalyptic, and dystopian stories his true love. Brice and his wife, Kimberly, currently reside in a small river town in North Eastern Missouri under the harsh rule of their three daughters: Emilie, Charlotte, and Piper.
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He also socializes on Facebook.