Gaming

15 things you (probably) didn’t know about World of Warcraft

Since the realms of Azeroth were first set live in 2004, the stats have kept on growing: billions of completed quests, millions of characters created, an incalculable number of hours spent playing the finest MMORPG ever created. And that's only in our office.

The following list is full of facts and trivia that may enlighten even the most die-hard of World of Warcraft fans - from the scientists who study it to the servers that power it. Happy questing.

  • 15 things you (probably) didn't know about World of Warcraft

    1. It can help improve the mental agility of seniors

    A study carried out by North Carolina State University found that playing WoW helped improve the cognitive functions of older adults. A group of 60-77 year olds were first tested on their cognitive skills, setting a baseline score. They were then given two weeks to play WoW at home, before undergoing another cognitive ability test. The researchers found a significant improvement in those participants who had initially given a low baseline score. Time to get your gran a subscription.

    (Image: Shutterstock)

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    2. Largest Game Wiki

    With over 99,800 pages, the WOWWiki is the largest community-run wiki of any video game of the internet. Power to the people.

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    3. World of Licencing

    For those of us not blessed with the skill and patience required to create masterful cosplay costumes, there are a handful of officially licenced retailers that can kit you out as your favourite race. The latex masks of Rubie's Costume Company will do a fine job of transforming your features, while the Frostmourne of Epic Weapons is our new favourite wall hanging.

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    4. Everyone loves a Hunter

    The world over, the Hunter is the most popular character class, attracting 12 percent of US players and 11.1 percent of EU players. The least popular? The lowly Monk, which only 5.8 percent of US and 6 percent of EU players pick.

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    5. And Mining

    The profession most chosen in Azeroth is that of Mining, with 35.8 percent of players picking up a pick axe. The least practised profession is Inscription at 9.6 percent.

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    6. The far-flung interest of the Corrupted Blood incident

    On 13 September 2005, WoW encountered its very own virtual epidemic, forever known as the Corrupted Blood incident. The root of the problem was caused by the introduction of Zul'Gurub, whose final boss Hakkar could cast a debuff and HP-draining spell named Corrupted Blood. While the effects of the spell only effected characters within Zul'Gurub, a glitch meant that pets who contracted the spell could transport it beyond the confines of that area. The resulting fallout of quarantines, player movement and efforts to contain the glitch caught the attention of epidemic researchers. Given the readily-traceable nature of players and the 'infection', epidemiologists were fascinated to note the behavioural and community response to a lethal outbreak, mirroring the way that real-life communities react to similar outbreaks.

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    7. It can help us understand how terrorism works

    Charles P Blair, deputy director of the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, believes that WoW can be a useful model for understanding the ways in which terrorism cells form and develop. Speaking to Wired.com, he outlined the ways in which the game could shed light on human behaviour in a way that numerical models never could: "The main strength is that [Warcraft] involves 'real' people making real decisions in a world with some kind of [controllable] bounds. To put it academically, you have both dependent and independent variables."

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    8. 80 Miles squared

    While we can pour hours into wandering the dungeons and realms of Azeroth, the approximate real-life size of is only 80 miles/207 kilometres squared. We certainly don't know any other 80 miles squared quite as well though.

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    9. 5.5 million

    That's how many lines of code it took a team of 150 to write to make WoW. The stat was revealed by Blizzard Entertainment cofounder Frank Pearce back in 2009. Other staggering numbers include the team of 51 artists that have now created over 1.5 million unique assets for the game, the library of more than 70,000 spells, and the population of nearly 40,000 non-player characters. A total of 13,250 server blades and 75,000 CPU cores keeps the world of WoW up and running.

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    10. Humans prefer playing as humans

    The most popular race in the game is Human, followed by the dastardly Blood Elves.

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    11. 7.8 million

    That's how many WoW subscribers are currently questing their way through Azeroth. Numbers have fluctuated since the all-time high of 12 million seen back in 2010, but the most recent figures revealed in February saw an additional 200,000 join the game from November 2013.

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    12. 14 million

    That's how many physical copies of WoW have been sold since its launch in 2004, making it the fourth best selling computer game of all time (behind The Sims 2, The Sims and Minecraft). However, this figure doesn't include digital downloads, which is the preferred method of sale in many Asian markets.

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    13. Dominic Cooper is feeling the pressure of Warcraft fans

    In a recent interview with CVG star of the forthcoming Warcraft film spoke of his fears of meeting the expectations of the game's fans: "There have been people creating that world for many years and it's got a very specific look, and the characters within that, people have already made their minds up about who they are and what they mean to them... that's quite a lot of pressure, in that you feel obligated to give the people who have spent the majority of their life playing it what they expect for it."

    (Image: Rex)

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    14. People prefer the Alliance

    Across both the EU and the US, more players side with the Alliance over the Horde.

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    15. Rarest Mount

    The Heavenly Onyx Cloud Serpent is the rarest mount in the game, with a drop chance of just 0.03%. Just look at how pretty it is.