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What Would YOU Do If You Knew The World Was Ending? Video Game Study Finds We’d Stop Worrying and Become More Sociable

Posted by on March 30, 2017 in Sci-Tech, Science with 0 Comments

If you knew a catastrophic event were set to wipe out society as we know it, how would you act in the days leading up to the ‘end of the world’? Researchers say players’ behavior in a video game could tell us what to expect

By Cheyenne MacDonald | Daily Mail

If you knew a catastrophic event were set to wipe out society as we know it, how would you act in the days leading up to the ‘end of the world’?


It’s a question that many have considered as apocalyptic narratives cling to popularity – and, researchers say players’ behavior in a video game could tell us what to expect.

A new study analyzed people’s actions in an ‘end times’ scenario, using a closed beta test of the game ArcheAge as a proxy.

While some turned to murder and other anti-social behaviors, the study found most people become more social in the face of impending disaster, creating new relationships even as they abandoned plans for the future.

In the study published to arXiv, researchers analyzed 270 million records of player behavior in the fourth closed beta test of ArcheAge.

This setup meant that all user data would be deleted at the end of the test, essentially making their actions in the last few days meaningless.

While there are some limitations in using a virtual world as a proxy for humanity, the researchers say it offers a ‘relatively good approximation of an “end times” scenario.’

‘One problem that philosophers have struggled with over the centuries is how humans will behave in a disastrous “end times” scenario,’ the authors explain.

‘For example, how does an individual behave if his/her behavior will have no lasting outcomes or penalties?

‘Do we continue to follow the compass that has led us through life or do we abandon our morals, ideals, and social norms in the face of oblivion?’

The study found that there were no ‘pandemic’ behavior changes – and, despite common expectations, most people didn’t become more violent.

The chart shows normalized action frequency per week. The further away the shaded region is from the center, the greater the frequency for the corresponding week. While some turned to anti-social behaviours, most people become more social in the face of impending disaster

The chart shows normalized action frequency per week. The further away the shaded region is from the center, the greater the frequency for the corresponding week. While some turned to anti-social behaviors, most people become more social in the face of impending disaster

Those who emerged as killers or exhibited anti-social behavior in the days before the end were outliers in the study.

Instead, the researchers found that players abandoned their character’s progression, giving up on quests and the pursuit of higher levels or abilities.

And, they found that pro-social behavior increased.

‘Our findings that the sentiment of social grouping specific chat channels trend towards ‘happier’ as the end times approach is the first indication of this pro-social behavior: existing social relationships are likely being strengthened,’ the authors wrote.

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