Real Humans Try to Stop Imaginary Plague in Imaginary Lands

Virtual plague spreading like wildfire in World of Warcraft,” by Jeremy Reimer, ars techncia, 21 September 2005, http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20050921-5337.html.

One word: WOW

Players of Blizzard’s incredibly popular World of Warcraft are reporting the outbreak of a virtual plague that is spreading across major cities in the virtual land of Azeroth, infecting player characters at an alarming rate.

The trouble started when Blizzard programmers added a new instance, which is a separate area connected to the outside world that players can enter and attempt unique quests. One of these instances, Zul’Grub, contained the god of blood, Hakkar. Hakkar was a powerful foe that could cast spells of his own, including a spell called Corrupted Blood. This spell did a large amount of damage to any player within the vicinity of the casting, and the effects lingered on after the spell was over.

What happened next was something Blizzard did not expect. Some of the players who had gone into the instance emerged back into the main world of Azeroth, and started spreading the Corrupted Blood disease to others who they came into close contact with. The infection soon spread into many of the cities and towns in the virtual world. Since the disease was intended to be a danger to powerful players, it tended to kill those less than level 50 almost instantly.

Game masters (GMs) tried to quarantine certain players from moving into new areas, but they kept escaping the quarantine and moving on to infect other people. A patch was issued to try and mitigate the damage, but it did not have the desired effect. According to a Blizzard poster on the WoW forums:

It appears that the hotfix remedy concocted to combat the recent Azerothian outbreak has not yielded desired results. At this time, our medical staff is continuing to develop an effective cure. We look forward to ensuring the health and vitality of the citizens of Azeroth in the near future.

The most interesting thing about this “outbreak” is perhaps the reaction it has provoked among WoW players. Instead of being angry about the deleterious effects of a bug, many are treating this as an exciting and unprecedented event in the WoW universe. It would be even more interesting if epidemiologists in the real world found that this event was worthy of studying as a kind of controlled experiment in disease propagation.

tdaxp readers are already familiar with World of Warcraft

One thought on “Real Humans Try to Stop Imaginary Plague in Imaginary Lands”

  1. http://www.windowsitpro.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=41095&cpage=188#feedbackAnchor

    That shows you just how “expert” Jeremy Reimer is:

    When Jeremy Reimer confronted by someone with actual degrees and experience in the field of computer science (for Jeremy Reimer impersonating that person on his website), Reimer resorts to posting libellous photos of said person and singlng slanderous songs instead.

    This makes sense: Jeremy Reimer has no degree in computer science, nor even a certification in it (not even an A+, much less an MCSE for example), and Jeremy Reimer has no years of professional experience in the field of comp. sci. either.

    Jeremy Reimer and his friend Jay Little were also run off by an actual computer person with facts @ that URL above, & were unable to disprove the points that person made.

    Both were initially warned for eamil harassment and later kicked from their ISP’s &/or Hosting Providers for such reprehensible behaviors as well. Some expert(s) Jeremy Reimer and his friends are about this field.

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