How the “Corrupted Blood” Incident in World of Warcraft Predicted Our Pandemic Behavior

Humans have always been unpredictable when faced with a global pandemic, making it challenging to create accurate mathematical models to predict the progress of a disease. The recent Coronavirus pandemic has shown the varied responses of people, from panic buying to denial of safety measures.

Interestingly, the online game World of Warcraft experienced a similar pandemic situation more than a decade ago. The game’s “Corrupted Blood Incident” provides insights into people’s behavior during a pandemic, shedding light on our responses to real-world health crises.

The Corrupted Blood Plague in World of Warcraft

In 2005, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft introduced a virtual disease called “Corrupted Blood.” Initially confined to a specific area of the game, it was meant to pose a challenge to players. However, the nature of the disease and unexpected player behavior led to its spread throughout the game.

Players unknowingly transmitted the infection to their animal companions and other players, causing widespread panic and efforts to contain the outbreak. Some individuals even intentionally spread the disease, leading to a full-scale pandemic within the game.

Surprisingly, players displayed altruistic behaviors by rushing to help their allies, sometimes at the cost of becoming infected themselves. Conspiracy theories arose, mirroring real-world rhetoric, as players speculated about the origins of the virus and placed blame on certain groups.

Researchers were intrigued by the way gamers inhabited their virtual personas and saw an opportunity to gain insights into human behavior during a pandemic. They suggested that data derived from observing players’ responses to the virtual disease threat in World of Warcraft could be used to understand the unpredictability of human behavior during real-world health crises like COVID-19.


Q: How did the “Corrupted Blood” incident in World of Warcraft accurately predict our pandemic behavior?

A: The incident in World of Warcraft provided a virtual simulation of how people react to a pandemic. It showcased behaviors such as panic, altruism, and conspiracy theories, which closely mirror real-world responses to health crises.

Q: What insights can be gained from studying the players’ behavior in World of Warcraft during the “Corrupted Blood” incident?

A: The study of players’ responses can provide valuable data for understanding human behavior during a pandemic. It highlights the unpredictability and varied responses of individuals, which can be used to improve real-world disease models.

Q: How does the “Corrupted Blood” incident relate to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: The virtual pandemic in World of Warcraft mirrors many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the spread of the disease to the emergence of conspiracy theories. It serves as a prescient example of how people react to a health crisis.


The “Corrupted Blood” incident in World of Warcraft serves as a remarkable precursor to our pandemic behavior. By observing players’ responses to the virtual disease threat, researchers have gained insights into the unpredictable nature of human behavior during health crises. This unique virtual simulation has provided valuable data that can be used to improve our understanding and response to real-world pandemics like COVID-19.

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