The Pandemic: Angels and Devils

Tsz Ying Lau

People respond differently to pandemics due to their differences in values. If you found yourself maybe a coronavirus carrier, would you choose to quarantine yourself at once for fourteen days? Or would you continue heading to parties and gathering with friends for fun? An angel or a devil, this is a question. The Corrupted Blood incident provides insights on how people may react to a real-life pandemic. 

On September 13th, 2005, one of the most popular role-playing games (RPG) at the time underwent a virtual pandemic. The newly introduced end boss, Hakkar the Soulflayer, could cast a debuff called the corrupted blood on players, which would continuously cause damage to game characters within a specific period of time. The debuff intended to stay only in Zul’Gurub, the newly opened area of the game map where Hakkar is located. However, due to some technical loopholes, the debuff was brought out of Zul’Gurub through the game characters’ pets.

The debuff was soon brought to a densely populated city, causing a huge number of deaths among low-level players and non-player characters (NPCs). High-level players who could withstand the debuff for a short period of time escaped from the debuff-filled city and went to other parts of the map which were not yet infected for safety. The debuff was then further spread to other cities. These data overloaded the server, the game started lagging, leaving no time for newly logged-in players to respond. These players died soon, too. 

There are angels and devils during the pandemic. Some angels, mostly the high-level players, voluntarily grouped as medical teams, healing other infected players and helping them to teleport to other cities. Other angels stood in front of the infected cities’ gates, preventing other players from entering the infected cities. Devils, on the other hand, not only refused to help to heal but also purposely spread the debuff among special NPCs who would not die from damage. These NPCs then become fixed debuff transmitting points that further worsens the situation. Despite the GMs’ (game managers) hard work in isolating infected cities, the situation did not become any better. This is because the devils actively searched for loopholes in the game and brought the debuff to healthy cities. As the situation became out of control, the game developer, Blizzard Entertainment, deleted the debuff on September 20th, 2005. 

During these months, the reality is undergoing the exact same pandemic. Unlike the virtual pandemic, you never know who is infected: about one-fifth of the coronavirus carriers are asymptomatic. Even if we test negative for the nucleic acid test (NAT), it is still possible that we are carriers. For the sake of our and others’ health, we should all strictly follow the social distancing policies imposed by the government to make sure we do not become devils unintentionally. The more angels, the quicker we live back our normal lives. 

Categories: Features, Student author

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