Gaming’s most memorable epidemics

AW CRAP! We’re all going to DIE! Or at least, some of us might, because people die. Here at GamesRadar, we’re more worried about eye-strain than we are the ePIGdemic, but it’s hard not to think about it a bit, especially with that glowing box in our living rooms telling us we all have loaded guns with hairpin triggers stuffed up our nostrils.

So in honor of the terrifying, extra-hyped disease of the month (which, thanks to the Great Irony Engine which powers this universe, your cocky writer will probably contract), we’re counting down some of the most memorable videogame epidemics. These aren’t all the big ones. We didn’t forget Resident Evil or Left 4 Dead, we just chose not to include them. It’s expected in those games. Instead, we chose games that didn’t see it coming, or diseases that, for whatever reason, stuck with us as archetypes for germy death.

When GTA IV was released, the mysterious “Let Sleeping Rockstars Lie” Achievement seemed to imply that players had to kill a Rockstar employee in multiplayer, but no one had it or could figure out how to get it. The message boards were teeming with questions, but no answers came.

As it turned out, the achievement was viral, and an announcement on Halloween made its sinister nature clear. Upon killing an infected player in ranked multiplayer, you contracted the Achievement and a zombie skin. It apparently began with infected Rockstar employees (but we thought the only infection they spread was moral outrage!), but it quickly became a global epidemic.

It may not have been a particularly dangerous virus, but it was a wonderfully inventive use of Achievements (at least better than 10 points - beat level one, 10 points - beat level two, 10 points - beat level three…). Rockstar even allowed players to track the progress of the disease via the Rockstar Social Club.

Mario is a true gaming Renaissance man. He’s a barrel hopping, princess saving, typing tutoring, canvas painting, kart racing, tennis playing, planet hopping, golf club swinging, mustache wearing, Italian plumber. And he has a brother Luigi who also does some stuff.

Above: No one likes you

Mario’s greatest achievement is probably his short stint as a doctor. Mario was the only one who stepped up to save the world from the glass bottle outbreak of 1990. Glass bottles everywhere were overflowing with colorful viruses which could only be killed by similarly colored pills - an unprecedented medical phenomenon. Lucky for us, the symptoms of the outbreak were relatively mild, and mostly involved everyone’s mothers playing their NESes too much. Tetris had a similar effect.

Above:  Oh Doctor!

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  • breadlord - May 12, 2009 7:30 p.m.

    Oh man, i wonder what WoW would look like if that sever kept the disease going into WotLK, and infected the King himself. Some should try it :D
  • killemall - May 11, 2009 9:02 p.m.

    Don't eff with nerds... they'll DESTROY you!!! ReCaptcha: whens Rican
  • BurntToShreds - May 10, 2009 9:58 p.m.

    Ugh, typhoid was what killed me the most on the 'Trail. Maybe that 5000 pounds of animal meat I shot had to do with it....
  • CAPST3R - May 10, 2009 8:31 p.m.

    @MOOMAN; awww, don't kill the kittens. but kill the adult cats, i'm allergic to them. and kill the plants too, they give me hayfever. i will not be held responsible if he turns out to be a nutcase and actually does this. it is a joke. how the bloody hell are you supposed to write this recaptcha? it's 1/2 in 1 symbol! i'm changing it.
  • phoenix_wings - May 10, 2009 2:49 a.m.

    Ho hum. I'm watching a show on TB. Apparently, the number one killer of people who have HIV is TB. That's probably why HIV and AIDS haven't made it into video games. See, pixilated people dying of dysentery and invasions of giant penises, zombification and the like is kind of humourous (I suppose the Cursed Blood can be similar....) but AIDS/HIV is not. Plus, in looking at AIDS/HIV you generally have to look at the causes of it, which most video games really don't want to get into. Also, if people started transforming into gigantic floating penises, I'd consider myself significantly worried. But it's only Second Life, and that was hysterical.
  • noobeater - May 8, 2009 4:23 p.m.

    i never played wow, tho iv played some other mmorpg but that blood thing on there sounded really interesting, oh and funny coz noobs probably died, lots
  • Lucretiel - May 8, 2009 1:06 a.m.

    Not Left 4 Dead's Plague? Ah well. The WoW thing fascinates me to no end
  • Ded - May 7, 2009 6:07 p.m.

    Aw! You didn't mention the Zombie Plague intentionally released before WoW's latest expansion hit. Started off with a few infected bugs and crates, which spread to players. When the plague counted down to zero, you turned into a zombie, and could infect other players, friend or foe :D
  • StarbucksAssassin - May 7, 2009 11:01 a.m.

    Great memory with the Oregon Trail game. Who could forget dying of dysentery. Awesome!
  • Romination - May 7, 2009 3:13 a.m.

    a definite, glaring one that is missing! I'm sure Carolyn is going to start kicking your ass about it. The Pokerus from Pokemon! so there
  • big rudy - May 7, 2009 1:23 a.m.

    hey, *I* like luigi (referencing first dr. mario pic.)
  • Armyofnone - May 7, 2009 12:23 a.m.

    I think it's amazing how Goonswarm is being directly related to a virus. Awesome.
  • FlyinHawaiian13 - May 6, 2009 11:40 p.m.

    @fattestninjaever its more frightening now because virus names with mixed numbers and letters usually lead to the zombie apocalypse
  • Mavarious - May 6, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    I don't think there was an intentional pandemic put out with the 3.1.1 Ulduar patch, unless I missed it which I doubt because I've played for at least a half hour every other day.
  • GoldenMe - May 6, 2009 11:22 p.m.

    I live in Oregon. I don't get dysentary or snake bites. I'm fucking god.
  • Unoriginal - May 6, 2009 9:41 p.m.

    @Cyberninja That makes three of us. You, me and Good 'ol Luigi.
  • helix92 - May 6, 2009 9:39 p.m.

    lol. cool article, i'm pretty sure that there was a perposefull virus pandemic on WoW recently. To coincide with the newest expansion. Not 100% sure though, that game bores me
  • Corsair89 - May 6, 2009 9:25 p.m.

    I always died of dysentary in Oregon Trail.
  • Cyberninja - May 6, 2009 9:14 p.m.

    i like luigi so now im no one
  • Demonflare - May 6, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    Hahaha! The livin dead yo!

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