A World of Warcraft fan server has let loose an in-game plague to teach the dangers of the coronavirus.
As reported by Kotaku, the fan-run server called Elysium hosted an event dubbed "Pandemic in Azeroth." Admins didn't inform players about the in-game virus until after it had begun to spread.
It all began with an object being infected, a player – Patient Zero – interacted with it, then proceeded to interact with NPCs and other players spreading the disease. Overall, 88 per cent of active users were infected at the peak of the disease.
"I know that we have a lot of players who are young or don't have access to the information I do – or at least the same amount of information," said Elysium admin Rain.
"I felt like I had an ability to inform people and help out in this time."
Rain claimed they did consider the risks involved with replicating a real-life disease that has claimed many lives worldwide.
"I was very conscientious of the fact that people have died from this, and it's affecting people in pretty negative ways," said Rain.
"It was always a little risky to do this. I'm sure that's why a lot of legitimate gaming companies aren't doing anything because it's so sensitive. I wanted to make sure that whatever we did was 100 per cent about education and providing information and not anything to do with making us money or to be in any way poorly perceived by the people we were trying to inform."
The event was time-limited so as to prevent trolls from having too much fun, causing mayhem and distress for other players. The majority of users did the right thing, kept their distance so as not to cause further infections – much like social distancing in real-life.
However, others failed to learn the serious lesson that Rain and Elysium were trying to teach.
"I am a bit shook by the blatant disregard some people had [for] the event," said a player named Eldrinae.
"They just went on like nothing happened at all. Most people did the right thing and tried to help others. A lot of people just stopped playing during the pandemic, which is, of course, the most noble thing to do, but some people just refused to realise this is the actual world we live in just as much as the virtual one we hide away in to avoid seeing things with our own eyes wide open."
Overall, Rain was pleased with the outcome. Many chose self-isolation and took precautions. As a result, 88 per cent that was infected more than halved to 42 per cent.
"If I could help even one person be informed, I think it's worth it," said Rain.
"We can all feel a little uncomfortable for a couple days if it can help people who aren't in our situation."