You should have been there!
There's something special about playing an MMO. The rush of leveling up, learning new skills, and forming guild alliances is made so much more fun with others over the web. It's an opportunity to work with your fellow man and overcome massive bosses and labyrinthine dungeons together. But things aren't always this noble in the MMO space.
Sometimes players get together and grief newcomers; sometimes massive battles happen among high-level players. From the earliest MMOs to the most recent, mind-blowing events came to pass, the sort that are only made crazier by being on the internet. From World of Warcraft to Eve Online, here are the most insane (but true) stories in MMO history.
Killing the creator (Ultima Online)
Richard Garriott is a pretty important figure in MMO history--he created numerous classics like the Ultima series, City of Heroes, and City of Villains. He was especially fond of the Ultima titles, and would often appear in-game using his famous Lord British avatar, giving players a chance to actually communicate with the man who designed the MMO they were playing.
But, as with any public event, there's always someone in the crowd who's looking to stir up some trouble--in this case, one player set out to kill Lord British. Usually, Garriott's avatar was invulnerable... but that day, he forgot to activate this power before logging in. The player cast an area-of-effect fire spell at the feet of Lord British, so Garriott logged out to avoid damage. But the fire persisted--when he logged back in, he spawned atop the flames. A few more attempts to escape, and the fire eventually overtook him. In retaliation, another Ultima dev quickly spawned in and summoned demons that indiscriminately killed off people in the crowd. Lesson learned: never mess with developers who have been to space (opens in new tab).
Waking the Sleeper (EverQuest)
Every MMO has its big bad bosses, and one of the toughest in EverQuest is Kerafyrm the Sleeper. Kerafyrm is a giant dragon with 100 times the health of the other bosses. He takes almost no damage and can bring down anyone with his one-hit-kill attacks. Oh, and to even reach him, you have to defeat four other dragons. Meaning: he's no joke.
A few top EverQuest guilds got together and set off to wake the Sleeper for the first time in the game's history, as no group had successfully killed the four other dragons before. The guilds downed the four beasts and found themselves face to face with Kerafyrm--the first time he'd ever been awakened--and he proceeded to wipe the floor with them. Fortunately, the guilds could revive each other faster than Kerafyrm could kill them, and victory was finally in sight. Until, that is, Sony yanked Kerafyrm out of the game after three hours of attempts. Apparently, Kerafyrm wasn't meant to be part of the story at the time. So after a long, grueling fight, the EverQuest devs despawned the boss before he could be defeated. Dick move with a capital d.
Corrupted blood plague (World of Warcraft)
Fact: World of Warcraft is immensely popular (also, the sky is blue)--at one point, it actually had a larger population than all of Greece. With that many people packed into the land of Azeroth, bacteria and disease can easily fester and spread. But this is an MMO, and those things shouldn't happen in the virtual world, right? Wrong.
At one point, WoW grew as disease-ridden as a college dorm. A boss called Hakkar the Soulflayer has a blood-based spell that drains the life out of characters fighting him--and it can even spread to others nearby. When Hakkar was first fought, WoW-ers actually wound up spreading the plague outside of his arena. A glitch caused the blood spell to be carried through teleportation, so as soon as one person escaped the battle and returned to one of Azeroth's biggest cities, he infected everyone in town. The blood plague spread throughout Azeroth like the flu, indiscriminately killing thousands. NPCs could even spread it as carriers. Hmm, I feel a little warm...
The Penis Brothers (Rust)
Here's the thing about Rust: You start off completely naked, clutching a rock as your only weapon. Through persistence and crafting, you can clothe yourself, build a shelter, and live decently in the dangerous world. It's a tough place to make it. Other players are at each others' throats for resources, raiding shelters for survival--sometimes even for sport. To make things a little easier, you can band with others and form societies. And frats, apparently--that's the best comparison I can make to the Penis Brothers.
These guys ignore all that "clothes" business and run around totally naked. If they find you, they force you to strip down and join them, or die. And let's say you do join--what's initiation like? Well, the Penis Bros will form a train and begin--ahem--thrusting into one another, forming the MMO equivalent of The Human Centipede. Here it is in action (opens in new tab) (be warned, it's definitely NSFW).
Penises flood CNet interview (Second Life)
There's something alluring about Second Life. It's a chance to be someone completely different, to live out a fantasy or become a tycoon. Ailin Graef, for example, became a millionaire by playing the real estate game inside of Second Life. Her avatar, Anshe Chung, purchased acres of land and charged others to use it. The thing about SL is that in-game currency Linden dollars can be converted to real-world money. Graef actually became a millionaire through her investments--quite a feat in 2006, years before YouTubers made internet money look easy.
Of course, not everyone was happy about Chung's success. In 2006, CNet sat down to interview Chung in-game--creating the perfect stage for griefing. And buddy, did some griefing happen: A group of players flooded the room with giant, disembodied penises, stuffing the space like party balloons. The room got so packed with packages that Chung had to set up a new location for the interview. Shortly after, the flood of phalluses eventually crashed the server. Man, something that crazy could never happen in reality, right? Except for that one time in Russia (opens in new tab) I guess.
Pretty much everything (Eve Online)
Eve Online is difficult to get into: It's a slow burn of flying a spaceship, gradually making money, and eventually spending it on more spaceship stuff. But after millions of combined hours played, massive battles erupted through virtual space, with such a profound impact that they make the real-world look tame.
Before you dive in remember this: Every dollar amount here is real-world money--Eve Online allows players to use both in-game and virtual currency. Take this guy (opens in new tab), for example. Instead of sending his fleet into battle, he teleported himself--in one, little ship--directly in front of a rival faction. He called in backup, and the proceeding battle ended in over $24 thousand of damage to over 3,000 players. This team of players (opens in new tab) filled junk ships with special materials, sent them into orbit, then blew them up, creating a massive shortage of the materials they had just destroyed. They sold the now-rare materials they kept, netting them over $175 thousand. And we can't talk about Eve without mentioning the Fountain War of 2013 (opens in new tab). This was nothing less than a space epic, involving multiple guilds invading a secured area, a months-long siege, and a battle involving thousands of players across the earth. The monetary damage of that climactic battle requires a math degree to calculate--Wall Street could learn a lot from these guys.
There you have it--six insane events that could only happen in MMOs. I don't know about you, but I really want to put more hours into my characters and experience these things for myself now. Have any crazy MMO stories? Share in the comments below!
Want to get deeper into MMOs? Check out 10 ways MMOs aren't nearly as cruel as they used to be (opens in new tab). Then find out how to build the Pokemon MMO of our dreams (opens in new tab).