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Everyone's heard of it, and everyone who plays it seems to love it, but it's time to be honest with yourself: How many World of Warcraft facts do you actually know?
You might know that Blizzard Entertainment created it, and you're probably aware that it's one of the most popular games ever made, but do you know exactly how prevalent it is and has been throughout its career?
Do you know how many lines of code it took to create the game, or how big Azeroth would be in real life?
Did you know that World of Warcraft has opened up an entire field of study?
Now is the time to find out!
The rise and fall of World of Warcraft is a spectacle in and of itself.
WoW's popularity grew exponentially over the few years following its release. In early 2005, just a few months after the game's release, 1.5 million people were already playing WoW.
By the end of 2006, the population of Azeroth more then tripled, with five million dedicated players in their base.
The most significant increase in WoW's popularity came a year later when 10 million people were subscribed to WoW.
After that, World of Warcraft's exponential growth started to lag, which could have something to do with the fact that Blizzard Entertainment cut ties with their partners in Shanghai in 2009.
Or maybe it's because one of the guys who helped create World of Warcraft went rogue and built an identical knock-off called World of Fight, though that's unlikely.
Nevertheless, WoW acquired roughly 2 million new players between 2007 and 2010 when its popularity peaked with 12 million players roaming the land of Azeroth.
To put that into perspective, Sao Paulo, Brazil has a population of just over 12 million while New York City has 8.6 million residents.
Those 12 million players represented people of all ages, genders, nationalities, and occupations—even celebrities like Vin Diesel, Mila Kunis, and Dave Chappelle got sucked into World of Warcraft.
Now, the game's popularity is on a steady decline. WoW's player count was last reported in 2015 at 5.5 million players, and it's estimated to continue decreasing over the next few years.
Azeroth would be 80 square miles in real life.
If you think of Azeroth as its own world, country, or city, you'll be surprised at how small it is—especially since it has millions of residents.
If Azeroth were real, it would only cover about 80 square miles (51,200) of land. That might be larger than many other video games, but compare that to London, England, which takes up just under 627 square miles of land and has a population of roughly 8 million people, and 80 square miles seems like nothing.
There is, however, a small town in the midwest of the United States that is exactly 80 square miles. El Reno, Oklahoma is the same size that Azeroth would be in real life.
With a population of fewer than 19,000 people, I imagine it would be an unpleasantly overcrowded area if it had the millions of residents that Azeroth has managed to accommodate.
It took 5.5 million lines of code to create WoW.
For what it lacks in square miles and acres, WoW certainly compensates in its lines of code.
The team at Blizzard Entertainment wrote 5.5 million lines of code to give us WoW. That is equal to 99,000 pages worth of text.
Let's put that into perspective: Leo Tolstoy wrote 1,273 pages of text for War and Peace, and, granted there were no computers back in 1861, it took him six years to write the iconic novel.
Even with modern technology, I doubt most people would be able to whack out more than a thousand pages in that amount of time.
It took Blizzard Entertainment's team of 51 programmers five years to write the 5.5 million lines of code for World of Warcraft. In doing so, they built 1.5 million one-of-a-kind assets for the game, including over 70,000 spells, a variety of settings and props, events, and almost 40,000 non-player characters.
Those 5.5 million lines of code are stuffed with all sorts of hidden clues, places, and things, and it seems that video games have reached a level of artistic expression unlike anything some people ever thought possible.
WoW is a gold mine for academic research.
You can learn a lot about people and society when you get millions of people from around the world interacting with each other in one place, so it's easy to understand why sociologists and other academics may see a lot of value in studying video games like World of Warcraft.
Sociologists and other academics flocked to Azeroth almost immediately after WoW's release.
Since then, so many academic books and articles have been written about World of Warcraft that an entire sub-discipline of sociology has opened up in its honor.
Let's look at some of the fascinating World of Warcraft facts that tell us about ourselves and the non-virtual world we live in.
Your WoW character probably reflects your personality and demographic.
Your WoW avatar and behavior can give others insight into who you are in real life, according to a 2011 study from the University of Iowa and Palo Alto Research Center.
The researchers, who were funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory, gathered personality and demographic data on 1,040 people who played World of Warcraft and found that your choice of role on WoW is a predictor of your Big-Five personality type in real life.
They found that if you like to play Tanks, you're probably better at handling stress than someone who spends their time playing Ranged DPS and has a more anxious personality.
The study also noted that introverted people enjoyed more alone time in the virtual world and were more likely to have vanity pets while extroverts preferred dungeon raids and group activities when playing WoW.
That said, avatars engaging in PvP and dungeon raids were also associated with hostile personalities and immaturity. Meanwhile, older players tend to gravitate toward questing and crafting.
The study also found that males are more likely than females to choose a character of a different gender.
Female players are more likely to choose attractive characters.
On the topic of gender, the Daedalus Project surveyed 1,069 females and 3,360 males who played World of Warcraft, and found that real-life females were more likely to pick beautiful avatars than men.
While 64.4 percent of females selected the most beautiful characters, males showed a slight preference for characters with average attractiveness.
Males playing WoW also seem to be inclined to choose characters on the taller end of the spectrum than females, most of whom select avatars of average or below average height.
Raiding can make you more employable.
According to another WoW-inspired personality study, this time in 2017 from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, you might want to mention your experience with WoW raids the next time you want to give a killer interview.
If you're good at WoW raids, you probably have some of the Big-Five personality traits that make you more desirable to employers and more successful in the workplace.
In the study, researchers surveyed a diverse sample of 288 people who played World of Warcraft and found a positive correlation between raiders and "extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism."
The study also showed that players with the most achievements are the most tech-savvy in real life.
So, rank up those points if you want to stand out from fellow job applicants!
The 2005 Corrupted Blood incident helped us learn about epidemics.
If you haven't heard of the Corrupted Blood incident, then I've got two cool World of Warcraft facts for you in this section.
In 2005, an innocent update resulted in a widespread epidemic known as the Corrupted Blood incident.
The update was supposed to give the end boss Hakkar the power to gradually weaken opponents, but things got out of hand due to a programming error that transmitted the contagious and deadly disease to pets.
Players who were relatively new at playing WoW were the most vulnerable, while stronger, more advanced players had higher survival rates once affected.
There were piles of bodies everywhere. It was absolute chaos.
Many avatars worked together to prevent the spread of the disease and make Azeroth safe again. Some infected, financially unstable avatars went to work despite their illness and, in doing so, spread the blood plague. Other, more sinister players intentionally spread the disease.
Blizzard Entertainment attempted to quarantine infected players to contain the disease, but ultimately decided to reset the servers instead.
Then, epidemiologists Ran Balicer, Eric Lofgren, and Nina Fefferman analyzed the WoW community's response to the plague and set out to learn whether the incident could tell us anything about the spread of real-life epidemics.
They noted that, overall, how players responded to the plague reflected human behavior in similar, real-world scenarios, and that studying the virtual world might help us curb epidemics in the future.
Playing WoW can improve cognitive function in the elderly.
A 2012 study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that playing WoW can boost cognitive functioning in elderly adults.
Researchers kicked off the study by measuring the attention and spatial orientation of two groups of senior citizens (aged 60-77 years). One of the groups was then given the task of playing WoW for a total of 14 hours over the next two weeks.
All of the participants were then tested again to measure the results.
The study found that the group who played World of Warcraft for two weeks not only saw an increase in their test scores, but that those who initially scored the lowest improved the most.
The results suggest that playing WoW is a great way to sharpen and re-sharpen the brain.
WoW addiction can have horrific consequences. Play responsibly!
If you love playing WoW, you might be feeling a bit smug after reading the positive World of Warcraft facts I've shared throughout this article because you feel as if you know all the things people learn as first-time online gamers. The game is fascinating, and it can have some positive effects on people; but just like any substance, too much of it can be fatal in high doses.
In 2015, a young man named Wu Tai (24) from Shanghai spent 19 hours playing WoW in an internet cafe until he dropped dead. It turns out he hadn't taken any breaks for food, water, or to stretch because he was so involved in the game.
Also in 2015, a 17-year-old Russian boy known as Rustam died after spending over 2,000 hours playing WoW while in bed with a broken leg. According to The Mirror, doctors attributed Rustam's death to thrombosis from not taking stretch breaks.
In 2014, the 41-year-old parents of two young girls were arrested for neglecting their children to play World of Warcraft. The neglect lasted for three years until the police were called to conduct a welfare check and found the malnourished girls in a house full of hazardous waste.
So, please, if you are prone to marathoning video games, don't forget to get up, stretch your legs, drink water, and spend time caring for the real-life people you have who you love.