World of Warcraft: The Running of the Bulls

Ezra Chatterton was an 11-year-old boy who enjoyed playing World of Warcraft with his father. He had a brain tumor, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for him to have a day at Blizzard last year. He got to help design a new weapon, the Crossbow of the Phoenix, and a new quest. Most Horde players will have seen this one, but few Alliance players will have: just outside the low-level tauren village of Bloodhoof, farmer Ahab Wheathoof (voiced by Ezra) asks characters to help find his lost dog (Ezra’s actual dog Kyle) and bring him home. For the quest, your character gets some tallstrider meat and uses it to lure the dog over. He feeds, does a dance, and runs off to his master. It’s an absolutely delightful moment, and something I make time for with each of my Horde characters because it’s just plain fun. Blizzard also loaded Ezra’s character up with experience, gold, and goodies, and did his morale a lot of good.

Alas, cancer seldom stops on good vibes alone, even though they can and do help strengthen a weakened boy. Ezra passed away late in October of this year.

At this point, enter the blogger who uses the handle Big Red Kitty. BRK loves excuses to get a lot of people together for a fun time, and he decided to have a memorial for Ezra, a “running of the bulls” in a rather literal sense. He invited his readers, and those who heard about the event from other sources like WoW Insider, to make new tauren characters who’d take the epic (for 1st level characters, at least) trip from the tauren homeland in Mulgore across the Great Sea to try sacking the Alliance capital of Stormwind.

And y’know what? 897 people joined in. It’s difficult to describe the effect in mere words. Fortunately, BRK and others got screenshots and video capture, which he’s posted for your viewing pleasure. Check these out for the digital flash mob scene.

Unfortunately, complications ensued. It turns out that WoW servers don’t actually deal very well with having most of a thousand characters active in one zone.┬áIn fact, they crashed the Argent Dawn server. Then cascading overload took down several others, and the authentication server that everyone has to deal with to log on to play.

BRK and others were, of course, mortified. They hadn’t intended to make trouble for anyone, and certainly not on that epic scale. I was playing elsewhere at the time when the cascade happened, and was annoyed at the time, until I found out what had happened. Then I was amused. It’s not that I find the crash itself amusing, but what a reason for it! Sort of a memorial pyre, in its own cybernetic way. Even though it didn’t work out as planned, I love the concept and am glad they gave it a shot.

[Picture taken from the screenshot collection at BigRedKitty.net and used here by special permission of the author.]

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