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Shall we play a game?

James Egan

When you think of a rapidly developing Asian nation, fast becoming a global superpower and now harnessing the potential of supercomputing, what's the first purpose for this supercomputer that comes to mind? Hint: think video games, not war games. Regardless of your first thought, we're betting you wouldn't have guessed "World of Warcraft"... but it's true.

China's World of Warcraft servers are run by The9, who own Blizzard's distribution rights in the country. "Earlier this year, The9 boasted of hosting more than one million World of Warcraft players online at the same time.To support the complex calculations required to create the game's graphics, The9 owns more than 10 supercomputer systems," Ashlee Vance reports for The New York Times.

China has been investing a great deal of money into its computing infrastructure, given how vital science and industry is for the country's future. "China now claims 15 of the world's 500 fastest computers. That make it the top-ranking supercomputing country outside the United States, Western Europe and Japan," Vance adds. Given the rapid adoption of online gaming throughout China and the revenues it represents, the gaming industry's focus on obtaining more computing power has likely only just begun.

The New York Times piece,"Computing from Weather to Warcraft" is an interesting look at the growing prevalence of supercomputers in the MMO industry, and for another angle on this, you might also want to see WoW Insider's coverage of Blizzard, The9, and gaming supercomputers.

One of Azeroth's millions of citizens? Check out our ongoing coverage of the World of Warcraft, and be sure to touch base with our sister site WoW Insider for all your Lich King needs!

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