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Five Horrible Events in Video Game History That Turned Into Something Positive

Every cloud has a silver lining. Some silver linings are “shinier” than others, especially when video games are concerned.

The gaming world has had its ups and downs. But sometimes, we’ve managed to take some of these “lemons” and turn them into “lemonade” so to speak. Here are five historical gaming moments that should have been terrible memories but, somehow, turned out to be something good.

A Plague Hits The Land of Azeroth

The “Bad” Event:

World Of WarcraftBlizzard had no idea what a headache they had on their hands when they released the Zul’Gurub dungeon in World of Warcraft. Hakkar The Soulflayer, the boss of the dungeon, could infect a player with a debuff called Corrupted Blood which could be spread by coming in contact with a player “infected” by the “disease”. It was only supposed to be active within the dungeon but, because of a glitch, the disease managed to spread in heavily populated areas, killing off low-level players almost instantly.

The world of Azeroth was thrown into chaos. Bodies littered the streets of heavily populated areas. Some benevolent high-level players would try to heal lower-level players while some directed the uninfected to evacuate into “safe” zones. Some other malevolent players decided it was more fun spreading Corrupted Blood and actually ran into these “quarantine” zone with the sole purpose of infecting others.

Eventually, Blizzard had to perform a hard-reset and fixing it so that Corrupted Blood doesn’t work outside the dungeon. Still, the Corrupted Blood event caused trauma to some of the newer gamers. Some of them even abandoned World of Warcraft altogether.

The “Good” Result :

Because a lot of players reacting to the Corrupted Blood contagion as if it were a real-life outbreak, some epidemiologists see the Corrupted Blood plague incident as a model of studying how an epidemic gets started and how it can spread to heavy populated areas.

Scientists have also thought of attempting to release an event like this into other MMORPGs as it would be a safe way to monitor how a pathogen is dispersed from fairly remote areas into densely populated areas… without the real life threat of dying.

Atari Refuses Deal With Unknown Japanese Company

The “Bad” Event:

Donkey Kong On AtariIn 1983, a then unknown Japanese gaming company decided to expand into the US market. However, they wanted to partner with Atari, which was the biggest name in home consoles. Seeing that the Japanese console was leaps and bounds more advanced than their own Atari 7800, they agreed to sell the Nintendo Famicom in the United States. The contracts were to be signed in the 1983 Consumer Electronics show.

Before the contracts could be signed, however, Atari officials noticed a demo of Donkey Kong, one of Nintendo’s most popular games, playing on a Coleco ADAM computer. Outraged, Atari refused to sign. Even though Nintendo managed to clear the issue up, Atari was sold to Warner Communications and the deal evaporated.

The “Good” Result :

Nintendo still pushed through with their plan to enter the American market and went in alone. They redesigned the Famicom to make it more aesthetically pleasing for their new audience and started selling the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Nintendo then went on to be a giant in the video game industry, selling millions and millions of NES units in North America. The small gaming company also almost single-handedly revived the industry after the great Video Game Crash of the early 80’s and become a household name in the process.

Universal Studios goes ape on Donkey Kong

The “Bad” Event:

Donkey Kong and King KongWith Nintendo raking in millions of dollars because of the NES, other companies saw the upstart “toy manufacturer” as a target they can push around. Universal Studios was one of these companies. Universal Studios, who had produced a remake of King Kong, had already succeeded in getting ColecoVision to pay royalty fees for copyright infringement because of the similarities between the two simians.

Universal Studios lawyers then attempted to bully Nintendo into paying royalty fees for the use of the Donkey Kong name. Nintendo’s lawyer, Howard Lincoln, thought something was up and refused to settle. The battle of David (Nintendo) and Goliath (Universal Studios) was about to begin.

The “Good” Result :

Howard Lincoln hired John Kirby to represent Nintendo in court. It was then they dropped a bombshell: Universal didn’t own the copyright for King Kong! In fact, they revealed that, in an earlier lawsuit, Universal Studios proved that the King Kong name was public domain! The judge presiding over the case ordered Universal Studios to pay Nintendo $1.8 million dollars in damages. Howard Lincoln was made Senior Vice President of Nintendo USA. John Kirby was given a sailboat aptly named Donkey Kong and one of Nintendo’s mascots was named after him.

Because of this landmark win, Nintendo showed that they weren’t just some upstart “toy company.” They had the ball to hang with the big boys and show they world they were a major player.

Nintendo Wakes A Sleeping Monster

The “Bad” Event:

Super Famicom CD-RomAfter getting help from Sony’s Ken Kutaragi in developing the sound chip for the Super Famicom, Nintendo decided to work with the electronics giant to create a CD-ROM add-on for their 16-bit console. The deal enabled Sony to manufacture the add-on as well as a totally new system that could play both Super Famicom cartridges and CD games.

Nintendo eventually decided they didn’t like the fact that Sony would be getting a huge slice of their profits if they did make this new console. They turned to Philips, Sony’s biggest rival, behind their back.

During the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony proudly unveiled their “Play Station” prototype. The next day, Nintendo revealed its partnership with Philips, leaving Sony out in the cold.

The “Good” Result :

Furious at this turn of events, Sony’s CEO at the time, Norio Ohga, followed Ken Kutaragi’s advice and pushed through with the creation of the PlayStation, removing the port that allowed it to play Super Famicom games. The PlayStation was a huge success. Nintendo’s Super-CD peripheral never materialized and Philips made the CD-I (and three lousy Zelda games to boot).

Without Nintendo’s “treachery,” Sony might have never entered the console gaming business and we would have never gotten future iterations of their flagship console.

Atari Thinks Math Is Cool

The “Bad” Event:

Atari Do The MathBefore, everything was about bits. The Sega Genesis had 16-bits so it was “better” than the NES, which was only 8-bits. The PlayStation and Sega Saturn were both 32-bit machines so they had to be equally matched. Well, the Atari Jaguar had a whopping 64-bits of processing power, so that had to be the best console, right? Right?

Atari saw this as the only logical outcome and unleashed a big marketing campaign touting the Jaguar’s number-crunching power. Their slogan, ‘Do The Math!’, further emphasized their new console was the most powerful one available. Atari believed they were back in the game, so to speak.

The “Good” Result :

Gamers weren’t swayed by Atari’s “Do The Math” campaign. The Atari Jaguar sold extremely poorly, even against the “weaker” Sega Genesis and Super NES consoles. When the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation were released, sales for the Jaguar practically grinded to a halt. With virtually no third-party support and a backwards-looking controller, no one wanted to get Atari’s 64-bit monstrosity.

The Jaguar essentially ended the “bit wars.” Gamers started to focus more on the gaming experience each console offered rather than the processing power of the units. Consoles manufacturers decided to follow suit and focus more on making sure they had excellent games for their new systems and less on trying to outdo their rivals with raw processing power.

Published by

Victor de la Cruz

Most of my childhood (and adult life) was spent doing a lot of geeky stuff: watching TV, playing video games and going to the movies. To some, it may have been a waste of time. Well, to me, it has made me what I am today... a geeky adult.