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Two long articles worth reading

November 7, 2014

At Joystiq: “WoW Archivist: The zombie plague event” by Scott Andrews details a historic event in World of Warcraft history:

the most memorable pre-expansion event in WoW’s long history: the zombie plague.

Now, you might be thinking this has nothing to do with law but it’s important because it’s about world-building and collective communities. World of Warcraft is an important subculture and their history is worth exploring.

of course, players were driving it. People organized zombie raids on different cities with the intent to cause maximum devastation. The game gave them the tools and they took full advantage.

Being a zombie was enormous fun.

What was so amazing about this event is that it felt so authentic. It felt the way you always imagined a zombie outbreak would feel. Minor incidents led to escalation and then to absolute world-ending mayhem. The best ways to survive it were the ways you’d expect: staying in large groups, remaining armed and ready at all times, and avoiding population centers.

The zombie plague event garnered tons of press for Blizzard, including mainstream media. All this excitement most certainly helped fuel WoW’s climb to its peak subscription numbers

Also, we could pick sides. We could choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. We could hold steadfast against the Scourge or join their ranks and ravage Azeroth’s cities. It’s hard to explain just how cool it felt to be an actual bad guy, even just briefly. And it felt amazing, as well, to drive back the undead and save a city from the plague. However you approached the event, you were having fun — but only, of course, if you wanted to participate.

Andrews explains that many fans were not as happy about it, referring to their “vocal outrage” but despite that, he is nostalgic for this craziness. Bemoaning their more recent efforts, he wonders if Blizzard would ever have the chutzpah to do something so risky again.

Do we need a global catastrophe in order to bring us together? Is the only way to form community to share chaos and tragedy? Can we find a better way? And if not, if there is no better way to build community, then would it be justified for the government to create these horrible events in order to promote the social welfare?

That would be a crazy conspiracy-theorist nightmare, but then again, see comments from Professor Coleman of McGill University in National Post: “Hacker, creeper, soldier, spy” by Adrian Humphreys:

in this post-WikiLeaks moment, where there have been many leaks that have shown how, under the mantle of security, law enforcement and intelligence organizations have really abused their power, I think we have to take these claims very seriously. This is something we can no longer ignore or brush under the rug as being a crazy conspiracy.

Matt DeHart’s tale is simply incredible, unbelievable and crazy scary. Humphrey’s reporting is book length but worth every minute of time to read. And it includes many zombie themes i.e. PTSD, torture, terrorism, Anonymous, psychotropic medications, child porn prosecutions, the death of Aaron Schwartz, Canada!

“Talking to him on the phone, he sounded like a zombie,” said Paul DeHart, Matt’s father.

Well, what would you sound like if suddenly everything you knew was turned upside-down? As Andrews wrote of the WoW zombie plague:

We have so many great stories and fond memories because for the first time in a long time, we logged in and we didn’t know what would happen.

Is game design all that different from motivating government participation? Let’s hope so.

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