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!

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer