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MMO scientists reckon the end of the world will be mostly unremarkable, apart from the 'relatively few' who go on a killing spree (www.msn.com)

I found this article interesting because of the type(s) of people they describe as the ones who will become a “murderous problem”. 

The scientists used a video game to determine and predict users’ behaviors in comparison to social agreeability and willingness to “go along” (i.e. continue the storyline pretense despite knowing the futility, and continuing to strive despite knowing the game is going to be shut down). 

The paper (spotted by IFLScience) has the not-very-heartening title “I Would Not Plant Apple Trees If the World Will Be Wiped: Analyzing Hundreds of Millions of Behavioral Records of Players During an MMORPG Beta Test”.

“In this work, we use player behavior during the closed beta test of the MMORPG ArcheAge as a proxy for an extreme situation […] We analyzed 270 million records of player behavior [and] Our findings show that there are no apparent pandemic behavior changes, but some outliers were more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior (e.g., player killing).”

“But it’s just a game,” jeers the crowd, and of course it is, but studies like this rely on the mapping principle, which boils down to the behaviour of players in online games not being all-that-far from the behaviour humans exhibit in real life. So no academic would ever claim this kind of thing is a 1:1, only that it is possible to glean some behavioural insight from it.

“We’ll get to the red meat of player killing in a moment, but there were positives about the end times in ArcheAge. Chat content (measured by a valance score, essentially analysing for ‘positive’ words and sentiments) hit a slightly positive trend as the world’s demise grew closer, and players increase their social interactions: Sending more in-game messages, and creating more parties for group activities. (“Party whilst the world burns…” – this is a best-case scenario for those who want to cull the vast majority of the population and it is presented as a desirable trait here.)

One significant difference was between players that voluntarily leave the game (who the academics refer to as “churners”) and those who stay until the end of the beta. It’s the churners that are way more likely to show anti-social behaviour nearer the end (including, yes, player killing), while in contrast those who stick around “continue to behave within accepted social norms“. (Did they count people who left without demonstrating latently violent, antisocial tendencies?)

“So we come to the juicy murderising. There’s an interesting arc here, where the researchers found that murders were more common at the beginning of the beta, before decreasing until roughly the last third of the timeline, when they suddenly spike again. The paper theorises that the earlier peak is due both to players trying out PvP, and the age-old habit of experienced MMO players griefing newbies.

“The increasing trend at the end of the timeline is an indication that players might be reverting to more ‘savage’ tendencies as well,” reads the paper. “As we expected, players are more likely to perform anti-social behavior when no penalty will be imposed”. Wouldn’t it be nice if world leaders recognized this trend and…..oh, wait. They do. 

The paper then goes into a brief breakdown on the murderous tendencies and trends.

After that, this statement appears:

“Perhaps the more interesting element to tease out, however, and obviously this is a study of an MMO, is the difference between players who showed some attachment to the ‘world’ and those churners who could take it or leave it. The difference in behaviour is quite profound, and suggests those who feel some sort of connection or loyalty are overall more peaceful and better behaved than those who lack a similar attachment: The ones that go on the killing sprees.”

This statement is fully loaded, imo. Interested to hear what your impressions are.

What do you think?

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Crazy Bear
Crazy Bear
10 months ago

Humans are all different and deal with inevitable situations in whatever way fits their belief in their ability to alter the outcome even if their efforts may prove to be futile.

recap
recap
10 months ago
Reply to  Crazy Bear

I disagree, at the core generally humans are the same. That’s how they control us. But we all can react to different stimulus differently but still rather predictably. 👍🏿

recap
recap
10 months ago

The ecopocalypse is happening as we speak. 😷

Larrycoconut
Larrycoconut
10 months ago

It is “just a game” and the players knew that. How different would they have acted when real hunger pains and the real threat of suffering and death looked them in the eye?

rick
rick
10 months ago

I agree. Blood will run through our streets. There willbe mayhem. Look at the young crowd today, out of control … with the car side shows in the middle of the day sometimes and the rappers constantly promoting drug usage. Ive see kids in their early 20s bumming around the street. The streets are drenched in gasoline and a spark is all it takes.