Opinion, Video Games

A Pandemic Strikes

The plague is unstoppable. Quarantines are thrown up left and right but it doesn’t matter, people move too quickly and the plague moves with them. Some, unaffected by the disease yet still carrying it, spread it unknowingly. Those who are able to help treat the infected stand at the front line, putting themselves in harm’s way while others intentionally spread the virus, hoping to sow discord and finding amusement in the chaos. The bones of the dead litter the streets...

The year is 2005 and the Corrupted Blood holds dominion over World Of Warcraft as administrators scramble to halt the spread.

There’s no way I could let an actual, honest-to-god pandemic go by without touching on the Corrupted Blood incident. I wasn’t there to experience it in real time as I’ve never really been one for MMOs (and also I was in… fourth grade?), but I read up on it several years back and it was fascinating. Corrupted Blood was supposed to be a limited-time effect, a highly contagious infection that drained players of HP and was meant to help defeat the end boss of an event, Hakkar the Soulflayer (pictured below). However, a programming oversight allowed it to be carried out of the event by players’ pets and escape into everyday gameplay. It caught the interest of epidemiologists at the time because it allowed them to study a variable that many infectious disease models had been unable to account for: human behavior.

A few days ago, when I recalled this fun little occurrence I’d read about, I was unsurprised to see that several articles had already been written comparing the Corrupted Blood incident with the current pandemic. However, I was surprised to see that the epidemiologists who had originally studied the virtual outbreak and written a paper on it had discussed how their experiences with Corrupted Blood were helping them navigate the problems presented by Covid-19 today. The article at PC Gamer is well worth the read.

My main takeaway from it is something that a keen observer could probably have deduced already. Human behavior is going to make or break the outcome of this pandemic. Corrupted Blood didn’t have any real-world casualties, but Covid-19 does, and that number will only continue to grow. So don’t break quarantine. Don’t ignore the stay-at-home orders. Wash your hands. Healthcare workers are out there doing more than their fair share to keep everyone alive and healthy. Let’s do what we can to help.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and leave a comment if you want to talk!

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