World of Warcraft Epidemiology – The Corrupted Blood Plague (And Why It Matters) – Extra Credits



welcome one at all to a nice fireside tale of death and epidemics now since we've been covering a lot of real-life plagues on extra history we figured we'd cover a virtual one here one that shook the largest game in the world to its core and in the process provided scientists with data that may help save actual lives in the future thanks so much to Squarespace for sponsoring this episode click the link in the description below to see just how perfect Squarespace is for your next online idea now let's turn this wayback machine all the way back to September 13th 2005 far to the south far from the halls of Stormwind or the furnaces of Ironforge a group of adventurers find an ancient ruin deep in the jungles of stranglethorn it is a forgotten troll city but one powerful troll priest has in secret been using it as a ritual site to bring a dark God back from beyond the adventurers fight their way through the abominations and overcome horrible traps – at last face this ancient evil with a mighty cry they engaged the malignant deity with their magics learned from a lifetime of study and their weapons scoured from the deepest delves they strike at it but one by one they start to sicken there is a corruption this God has brought into the world but these are true heroes champions of Azeroth they battle through the sickness and at last overcome the ancient evil hiding in the jungle temple grounds their clerics great healers all cure the wretched contagion that is seized so many of their band and world saved they set out for home but no one remembered to cure the hunter's pet as is true so often in real life the pet was the carrier when high-level groups ratings Olga rub would return to use the bank or sell their loot in major cities the pets and minions they brought with them would carry the disease and vast outbreak would occur the disease was called corrupted blood and it was intended only to affect groups within Zhul Ghorab one of the hardest zones at the time meaning that it packed quite a punch not enough to kill off level-cap trained players mind you but certainly enough to obliterate low level characters luckily that wasn't something anyone at Blizzard had ever had to worry about because it was supposed to be contained to only an endgame zone but due to the bug that let the pets carry it out of the zone the moment the high-level players return to the cities that plenty of low-level players passed through it just decimated the population both horde and alliance capitals Stormwind and agra mar were filled with the unburied dead corpses and skeletons littered the streets and then people acted well like people which is what makes this event so interesting this is what made scientists study the outbreak because even though it was just a game so much real-world behavior occurred players started to flee the cities to abandon them for fear of the plague in doing so they brought the plague with them moving along travel routes to smaller and smaller outposts quarantines were set up but one by one the quarantines were breached sometimes by sick players trying to get out of the perpetual cycle of dying and responding in affected areas sometimes by players transporting pets they were unaware had the plague altruistic players worked together to set up healing stations or even just rush in to try to cure low-level players that had contracted the plague but especially in the less organized of these efforts healers rushing in to save new players would often accidentally contract the disease themselves and became a vector for the very disease they were trying to stave other players decided that sick or not they still needed to make money so they did the equivalent of going to work they'd send their plague character to the auction house to try to get some transactions done and ended up spreading the disease to everyone around them were still NPC's in the game functioned as asymptomatic carriers an NPC could contract the disease but they had enough health they wouldn't die and the disease had no visible effects meaning there was no way to tell they had the disease just like in real life where sometimes people carry a disease without it actually affecting them and because these NPCs were asymptomatic carriers it meant that when someone went to work sick and walked up to one of those auctioneers they'd infect that auctioneer and someone coming into the auction house after them might contract the plague from the auctioneer without even knowing the NPC had it there was also an organized effort to have people flagged himself as infected if they caught the plague in order to help with quarantines and allow new players for whom the disease would be fatal to avoid them this system broke down too though because some players would intentionally try to infect anyone without the disease which led uninfected players to start flagging themselves as infected so people wouldn't intentionally try to make them sick rendering the whole system useless in the end Blizzard had to do a hard reset on the server's and roll out some new patches because unlike a disease in real life in Wow players respawn meaning the disease could essentially go on forever which is one place where studying things like this breaks down interestingly though we get another real-world analogue here if you think of high level players players who could survive the plague as healthy adults and low level players as vulnerable populations such as children or the elderly if players couldn't respawn the plague was so deadly that it would have burnt itself out rather quickly no leaving quite the body-count behind which brings us to the last point this event has been the subject of a number of academic papers why the pandemics are thankfully rare but that means we don't have a lot of data on them especially how humanity behaves during them virtual environments like world of warcraft provide a unique opportunity for scientists and researchers to get insight into an absolutely vital area of study without the immense real-world toll and virtual studies will be by their nature imperfect and every scientists talking about this mentions how clearly they recognize this going on but given how the warcraft community seemed to treat it like a real plague even though the stakes were seemingly so low there's data to be gained and that's an incredible thing I'd love to see an MMO company team up with researchers for something like this because the more we know the less lives the next big outbreak will take and considering none of us get real-life respawns that's a quest I'm willing to be a part of until next time once again thanks so much to Squarespace for sponsoring this episode not only do they make it easy for our team and extra credits to share updates and have a clean and professional looking website but I've been using Squarespace for my personal online endeavors for years and because I truly know nothing about web design they're 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45 comments

  1. You should talk about the asheron's call and the boss called harry who was buffed by players killing themselves on him to the point where mods with mythical level weapons couldn't beat him.

  2. The corrupted blood debuff only lasted for 10 seconds and could be spread at a 10 or so yards , the ingame range Measurement, which means it would only fester in spots where players or npcs of a high enough health would permanently be. It did a few thousand damage, which was a lot, and was spread almost 100% maliciously.
    Players did not need to be cured as they would either survive it and be fine, or die, in the ten seconds. The npcs looping it with each other were the ones needing curing. People kept spreading it on purpose. The whole thing is a huuuuuge stretch to make it analogous to real world pandemics.

  3. I was there and still not capped. I had to hide in Hillsbrad Foothills for three days. Before one server reset I saw hundreds of skeletons leading up to city gates. It was brutal and awesome at the same time.

  4. And then there were people like me running around /yell ing "Praise Nurgle!!!" while deliberately spreading the Corrupted Blood to low level areas. xD

  5. “Stakes were seemingly so low.” Repair bills, man. Goddamn repair bills. That’s your hard earned gold at stake.

  6. That was one of the most memorable things i experienced in the game. Unfortunately i was a warrior and couldn t cure the plague but i tried my best to contain it by straight-up killing the infected.

  7. Did this happen before the wrath of the lich king expansion? If so, I remember it all too well. Orgrimmaar stood no chance

  8. From the seems of it, the disease is spread by proximity and from there on it gets into the blood stream and stops the heart. In other words, *DEADLY*.

  9. I hear that some players decided to self-enforce quarantines, namely by trying to purge any players they thought were infected.

  10. Yes, thank you for this video. We have had epidemics throughout history, but always forget them. We must never forget history.

  11. Come to think of it, I wonder if the current cyber-virus outbreak in EVE Online is meant to be similar to this, or at least engineered similarly by the devs, since while the stations affected by the outbreak are under quarantine, EVE is infamous for gankers who wish to sow chaos among both low level capsuleers and the empires of null-sec alike.

  12. So, pathologists learned from WoW, while economists and political scientists learn from EVE Online.

    MMO's clearly are unrecognized vectors of hypothetical research, especially those MMOs with communities that treat it like a real world, like in WoW and EVE

  13. It would be interesting to see a MMO or even just a regular multiplayer game try to implement disease like this but without it being accidental.

    Just, "accidentally" plant an enemy that can submit a disease, or even just implement a passive sickness counter and have it be transmissible, but with immunity.

  14. the closes thing wow ever did near real life i swear i remember this stuff XD, the painful part was everytime i or others died how body was so far away from the angel both the walk to get back at our bodies and walking away from the plague was tiring, back then it was horrible and extremely annoying, now is just a hilarious memory lol

  15. I hope Blizzard actually does some stuff like this on purpose in the future.

    Economic crashes, plagues, terrorist attacks etc… to provide data on how players reactv

  16. Necroing the Comments Thread here, but @Extra Credits, CCP the developers of EVE online has a thing in game called Project Discovery, They dedicate part of their servers to science and have players analyze data for prizes. It helped cure cancer I think last I check.

  17. Simple, just announce a new quest line. While on this quest line you cannot respawn and make sure that players who are not on the questline cannot get sick (as it would F the study) I think enough people would take up the quest line to make it a valid study.

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