When Blizzard released World of Warcraft I don’t think they anticipated how the game would end up translating into real life. People have used the game to show real world solutions to things such as economics and issues with social classes. I’m sure that they never expected for the game to give researchers a clue on how to deal with a devastating pandemic.
Back in 2005 a programming glitch caused a temporary effect from a boss fight to spread through Azeroth like a plague effecting any player who came within contact with an “infected” player. Part of what caused it to spread so rapidly was that the effect originated from a level 20 boss fight with Hakkar the Soulflayer. The spell “Corrupted Blood” was cast players who were close to him were supposed to be effected by this debuff for 10 seconds or until he was defeated. Unfortunately that wasn’t how it ended up working. As players ran through the cities they continued to infect more and more players. If you were a new player this could send you into a never ending cycle of death. After a Blizzard was forced to restart the servers in order to fix the glitch and get characters out of the never ending death loop.
The Washington Post caught up with epidemiologist Dr. Nina Fetterman, who happened to play World of Warcraft during the time when the “Corrupted Blood” plagued the game. You can read more about how her experience in the game is helping her with her current research as it relates to COVID-19 here.