Why is it said that World of Warcraft inspired the creation of the Ether cryptocurrency?

How does modifying a warlock spell in World of Warcraft relate to the creation of Ethereum-linked cryptocurrency?

There is an unknown link between Ethereum and online gambling World of warcraft. This is an anecdote, admittedly light, but which illustrates the spirit of the world of cryptocurrencies and those who are at the origin of it. This connection was spotted in the short online biography of Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, by a developer who shared his discovery on Twitter October 1, 2021. The story is not entirely new, however, since Internet users had already spotted it in 2019 on Reddit.

So, how does ether, one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, have to do with the world’s most famous multiplayer online game? It was Vitalik Buterin himself who woven it, in his online presentation. He describes : ” I was born in 1994 in Russia and moved to Canada in 2000 to go to school. I happily played at World of warcraft between 2007 and 2010, but one day Blizzard [l’éditeur de WoW, ndlr] decided to remove the damage inflicted by the ‘Siphon of Life’ spell of my dear warlock. I spent the night crying, and I realized that day how the centralized services carried the worst horrors. I quickly stopped playing.

No need to go into specific details of the named spell “Siphon Of Life To understand what happened: World of warcraft is a game where you play different characters from different classes and races, who have specific powers. It is the Blizzard studio that decides to attribute these skills and gauge their power. However, it happens that the company modifies certain powers, so that there is not too obvious imbalance between the categories of characters.

This action is not collegial: the studio decides for the whole game unilaterally – even if the developers spend time reading player feedback on the forums in order to take them into account – and then apply to everybody. It is this hierarchy in the chain of decision that Vitalik Buterin calls a ” centralized system “.

Vitalik Buterin in 2015 // Source: Wikimedia Commons / John Phillips

A decentralized system

The 27-year-old Russian developer directly links this anecdote with his ” bitcoin discovery In 2011, and therefore its entry into the vast decentralized universe of cryptocurrencies. Virtual currencies do not depend on a central bank, as is the case for fiat currencies with legal tender (such as the euro for example): they operate via decentralized IT systems.

Bitcoin, for example, is considered the first decentralized cryptocurrency: Internet users can get it by solving very complex calculations using powerful computers. They then provide a ” proof of work Which allows them to validate a “block” and obtain a reward (a little of the virtual currency in question). The difficulty of the equations to be solved is adjusted so that the rate of validation of the blocks remains stable – without this adjustment, the solution would be found faster and faster, as the number of machines increases.

A cryptocurrency even more general than bitcoin

Vitalik Buterin, however, says he saw what he sees as limitations to bitcoin, including the fact that cryptocurrency was thought to have been thought of in terms ” very specific applications », While he wanted to create an even more general virtual currency. This is what gave rise to the creation of Ethereum, a decentralized protocol that uses a unit of account called ether (ETH), and which depends on a completely different platform than bitcoin. ” Instead of being a Swiss army knife that brings together several tools, Ethereum was supposed to be simple: it would be a bitcoin-like network that would be combined with a universal programming language, which would allow all users to create all the tools they want Aljazeera America reported in 2014.

Before, the approach of people [avec les cryptos], it was as if you had a computer that had a specific hardware module for playing Solitaire, another hardware module for using Internet Explorer, and another for World of warcraft (…) It makes sense that this is a very inefficient way of doing things Vitalik Buterin commented at the time.

Obviously, this is not really the modification of a power in World of warcraft which directly led to the creation of ether, but we can perceive how much this decision may have influenced the thoughts of the Russian hacker, embodying the real divide between two ways of considering internet tools, one more vertical, the other more horizontal.

It did not take more than the rediscovery of this story for some Internet users to transform it into a meme – making the link, for example, between “the modification of a power in 2010 on WoW” and “the destroyed forests” in 2021 , in relation to the enormous environmental cost generated by the creation of cryptocurrencies.

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