How do people behave in the face of the Apocalypse? A new study based on the popular online multiplayer game ArcheAge has found that most players remain peaceful and loyal to their friends despite knowing that the server will be deleted in 11 weeks. Researchers analyzed more than 270 million records of player behavior and found that player behavior did not change significantly, except for a few outsiders who chose to kill other players more often.
The game ArcheAge is a popular open-world multiplayer online role-playing game. Players can explore, complete quests, level up, and collect gear. The data for the study was taken from the game’s beta testing, where players knew that after 11 weeks the server would be deleted and all of their progress and characters were lost. This created a situation where the consequences of their actions became meaningless, similar to how some people might feel if the real world came to an end.
The researchers found that most players did not undergo any dramatic changes in their behavior, and those who stayed until the end of the game tended to be more peaceful and loyal than those who left earlier. They also noted that players abandoned character development, showing a dramatic decrease in quest completion, pumping, and ability changes at the end of the game. This suggests that when the world comes to an end, people may not care too much about self-improvement or personal goals.
The scientists concluded that their study offers a new way to study human behavior in the end times, using a video game as a simulation. They also noted that their findings may not apply to other games or real-world scenarios, since different factors can influence how people behave when faced with an existential threat.
Nevertheless, the researchers hope that their study will inspire further research on the topic, as well as more ethical game design that takes into account the effects of game endings on player psychology.
“Our findings will stipulate that moods in chat rooms specific to social groups become ‘happier’ as the end times approach, which is the first sign of this prosocial behavior: existing social relationships are probably being strengthened.”