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How Crying Over A World Of Warcraft Nerf Led To A New Cryptocurrency

Keeping a game balanced requires developers to take stock of how the meta is playing out and make tough decisions about what mechanics are working and which need to be nerfed. While these changes are made to increase the overall quality of the game, taking away a favorite ability can be devastating for players who depend on it.

That was the case for Vitalik Buterin, who credits a significant modification of the Siphon Life spell for the Warlock class in "World of Warcraft" as the impetus for him to take on the worldwide financial system by developing Ethereum. As was first reported by Polygon, the Siphon Life spell was once a far more powerful tool in the Warlock's arsenal that would steal health from a target and send it directly to the player for up to 30 seconds. However, the first major patch for "The Wrath of the Lich King," took away the damage dealing portion of that spell to emphasize its healing abilities.

The 3.1.0 patch was released in 2009, and Polygon noted that Buterin was 15 at the time. According to Buterin's About.me page, the change took an emotional toll on the teenager. The incident soon caused him to leave "World of Warcraft" and develop a wariness of companies providing "centralized services" that would influence his future projects. Here is how a tearful reaction to a "World of Warcraft" nerf helped establish a new cryptocurrency.

Vitalik Buterin said after the Siphon Life spell was nerfed, 'I cried myself to sleep'

For anyone who doesn't follow the complex world of cryptocurrencies, Vitalik Buterin is a gifted programmer who founded Ethereum before he turned 20, per Wired. Etheruem was an evolution of Bitcoin and has been in the news as the distribution point of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, such as the 10-second video that sold for $6.6 million.

According to Buterin's About.me, all of that innovation stems from the fateful day that Blizzard chose to nerf Siphon Life. Buterin wrote that his teenage years were happily spent playing "World of Warcraft," but "one day Blizzard removed the damage component from my beloved Warlock's Siphon Life spell. I cried myself to sleep, and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring. I soon decided to quit."

His choice to abandon "World of Warcraft" led him to search for a new passion, and in 2011, he discovered Bitcoin. The movement's emphasis on open access to financial mechanisms caught his interest, and he soon began writing about Bitcoin. Eventually, in 2013, he founded Etheruem.

So how deep do the connections between "World of Warcraft" go? While there is a society in "The Wrath of the Lich King" called the Etheruem, Buterin told The New Yorker that the name had a different origin point. "I was browsing a list of elements from science fiction on Wikipedia when I came across the name," Buterin said, and was attracted to its connection to a hypothetical element that connects the universe.