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People will remain calm as the world ends, suggests video game study


BUFFALO, NY — A new study, based upon the virtual actions of more than 80,000 players of the role-playing video game ArcheAge, suggested that people be singing as the world ends contrary to many assume that the world will end in chaos.

The study, conducted by a University at Buffalo-led team of computer scientists, will be presented next month at the International World Wide Web Conference in Australia.

The study found that despite some violent acts, most players tended toward behavior that was helpful to others as their virtual world came to an end. And analysis of the virtual actions of 80,000 participants playing ArcheAge showed acts of violence were relatively rare.

“We realize that, because this is a video game, the true consequences of the world ending are purely virtual,” Ahreum Kang, postdoctoral researcher at University of Buffalo, said in a news release.

“That being said, our dataset represents about as close as we can get to an actual end-of-the-world scenario.”

Other authors include Jeremy Blackburn of Telefonica Research, Haewoon Kwak of the Qatar Computing Research Institute at Hamad bin Khalifa University and Huy Kang Kim of Korea University.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 275 million records of player behavior that were recorded during a trial of ArcheAge before the medieval fantasy game was released to the public in January 2013.

Researchers classified 75 different in-game actions into 11 categories. Each category was classified as either prosocial or antisocial. Examples of categories includes combat, partying and building houses. Players were aware their actions were being monitored and that the game would end after approximately 11 weeks.

All of the participants were told that their actions in the game were being monitored and the virtual world would come to an end after 11 weeks.

As the game ended, anti-social and violent behavior such as murder increased. However, the acts were conducted by a small percentage of the overall population. Researchers found that most players exhibited prosocial behavior such as strengthening existing social relationships and forming new ones.

The majority of players executed prosocial actions, partying or building houses.

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