Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the aka-every-game-on-xbox-live dept.
An article at Wired takes a look at two multiplayer survival games, DayZ and Rust, and at the behavior of players when their actions are freed from a civilized moral code. 'Violence wouldn't bother a psychopath, [Dr. Adam Perkins] says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions — say, for example, prison — might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.

Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says imagining ourselves doing something horrible is a way to see ourselves in a new light. "One of the ways we keep ourselves moral is to imagine the terrible things we could do, but then don't do," Ronson says. "You stand on a train platform and think, 'I could push that person in front of the train.' That thought pops into your head, and it doesn't make you a lunatic. It makes you a good person, because what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.'" ... But we're still left with the big question: Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

Comments Filter:
  • But that wouldn't be very interesting of help to fear monger, would it.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:31AM (#47092579)

    Correct on all accounts. Playing a video game is not bad by nature. If the player can easily understand that "it's a game" and not confuse the game with reality, I don't see an issue. One of the major issues I see with mental health and video games is that some parents use games as baby sitters. They don't provide the moral context, then wonder why their kids get out of control.

    I see this just like I see people blaming Wily Coyote cartoons for violence. Entertainment with proper guidance is just entertainment, but some people need a scape goat.

  • by E-Rock (84950) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:31AM (#47092581) Homepage

    In a world without consequences, I think most people would be pretty fucking vicious.

    However, I don't think these games are a mirror to your real nature because of the other differences the game world creates. Most importantly, you're immortal and can go do something else whenever you want. Death is ultimately trivial compared to real life. Sure you lose your stuff, which sucks, but you don't cease to exist. The reverse is true for those you 'kill' in game.

  • Is it possible? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nowsharing (2732637) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:34AM (#47092597)

    How is it possible to be a psychopath in a game? This and other research are based on the premise that video games contain real violence. No game has ever contained true violence in this sense, which is why violent video gaming behavior doesn't lead to the harm that real psychopaths cause in society.

    The only way to act psychopathic--doing actual harm to another human being with true apathy--in a video game would seem to be through communications between players inside the game, where feelings could be hurt. It would be hard of course to separate psychopathic communicative behavior from other common factors like immaturity, inebriation, gaming cultures, etc. That should probably be the real focus of these kinds of studies. Another interesting study might be to study actual psychopaths, pulled from corporate environments or the like, and seeing if/how they play games differently from non-psychos.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:36AM (#47092609)
    First post, first psychopath. Many of us refrain from "uncivilized behaviour" because we think it's wrong, not because some law says we will be punished. Many forms of "uncivilized behaviour" are not illegal, and yet most of us will not do them. Some of us will disobey laws, because we think the law is wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:43AM (#47092647)

    Rust is worse. Unlike DayZ, where (if I remember right) players start with a pistol, in Rust people start with a rock. The rock is a melee-only weapon with a horribly long swing time. It's deadly at close range, but it takes maybe half an hour to get a gun in Rust.

    A very, very common sight in Rust is players with M4s and other military-grade weapons (which supposedly are only "placeholders" but have been in the game since its inception) killing people who have just spawned. On some servers, there are entire teams of people dedicated to camping popular spawn locations for the SOLE PURPOSE of killing anyone who dares to randomly spawn there.

    There is no benefit to doing this. The rock is a useless item, not used for making anything else, and at most the new spawns might find a few wood or stone before they're killed.. neither of which are useful to the guys in metal bases with assault weapons. There is no advantage to killing like this - in fact, you're wasting precious ammo - but people do it anyway. Granted, a lot of them seem to be pre-teens with no jobs who can spend 24 hours a day grinding ammunition.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:53AM (#47092715) Homepage Journal

    Look at the behaviour of young children (like 2-3 years old) in a group. They hit each other. They push each other. They steal each other's toys. They pull each other's hair.

    Kids are nasty, selfish creatures before they're socialized.

    I believe that without proper socialization, human society would rapidly degrade into a "natural" winner-takes-all slugfest of brutality. Cooperation and communication is not "natural" -- it's taught. The same is true in the animal kingdom for the more social species -- they learn the benefits of cooperation and social structure.

  • by ppanon (16583) on Monday May 26, 2014 @12:08PM (#47092807) Homepage Journal
    Neuro plasticity indicates that what you repeatedly perform becomes a more entrenched behaviour as those neural paths become strengthened. That would seem to indicate that it would exacrebate natural tendencies. If you naturally are repelled by psychopathic behaviour, then performing it could strengthen that revulsion. If on the other hand you have psychopathic tendencies....
  • Re:Is it possible? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chad_r (79875) on Monday May 26, 2014 @12:23PM (#47092913)

    How is it possible to be a psychopath in a game? This and other research are based on the premise that video games contain real violence. No game has ever contained true violence in this sense, which is why violent video gaming behavior doesn't lead to the harm that real psychopaths cause in society.

    The only way to act psychopathic--doing actual harm to another human being with true apathy--in a video game would seem to be through communications between players inside the game, where feelings could be hurt. It would be hard of course to separate psychopathic communicative behavior from other common factors like immaturity, inebriation, gaming cultures, etc. That should probably be the real focus of these kinds of studies. Another interesting study might be to study actual psychopaths, pulled from corporate environments or the like, and seeing if/how they play games differently from non-psychos.

    This is why murder in games as a measure of sociopathy is a red herring. The real crazies are the griefers, the ones who gain enjoyment, with no other tangible benefit, from knowing they are doing harm to real people in the form of wasted time or belittling. It's hardly limited to gaming. Look at Wikipedia. Sometimes people vandalize because they have a petty axe to grind, but other vandalism is just totally pointless, like replacing entire paragraphs with the word "penis". I would even consider some graffiti, like the Chinese teenager writing "Ding Jinhao was here [wikipedia.org]" at the Luxor Temple, to be sociopathic.

  • by Toad-san (64810) on Monday May 26, 2014 @12:26PM (#47092937)

    "The screen flickered back on. I was reborn, standing naked in an empty field, holding only a rock. Not far away I saw a man gathering wood, his back to me. I crept toward him through the grass. He didn’t hear me slinking closer.

    I thought of the words of John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, who once said that the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

    I raised my rock above my head."

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday May 26, 2014 @12:33PM (#47092975)

    They don't provide the moral context, then wonder why their kids get out of control.

    If this was true, there would be plenty of data with a positive correlation between game playing and immoral behavior. Can you point to any evidence that shows that games cause kids to "get out of control"?

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Monday May 26, 2014 @01:21PM (#47093267)

    'Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'

    This isn't the larger concern right now.

    The larger concern is the fact that empathy and human emotion still exist on the actual battlefield today, and we are looking to remove that from warfare as we look into the future of automation. Where we have a soldier making those face-to-face decisions to pull or NOT pull a trigger today will be replaced by a robot wired to a PS4 controller thousands of miles away, being driven by a "soldier" who may not even know they are engaged in actual warfare as they "play" the "game".

    These things are coming. And ironically as you call this future inhuman and disastrous for mankind, it is the tears of crying mothers that help justify this, because these "solutions" will be sold as the answer to bringing our boys back home every time.

  • Re:LOL ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Monday May 26, 2014 @01:29PM (#47093337) Homepage

    You would get a lopsided view of the world if you base your opinions solely on the comments on some Internet forum.

    Just like many of us would not commit a crime just because we feel it is wrong (and not in fear of any legal consequences), so many people do not make childish or rude comments just because it is on the Internet. As old the expression goes, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything". Unfortunately, this imbalance can often make it seem as if the Internet is full of sad jerks whereas the truth is more likely that there is a vast unspoken majority lurking behind the scenes.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday May 26, 2014 @01:49PM (#47093423) Homepage Journal

    I feel bad when I run over a pedestrian in GTAV, but not as bad as when I run into a lightpost.

    In the real world, it would be the other way around. I've never run into either, but I like to think I'd steer for the lightpost given only those choices.

    Using video games as a guide to how people would behave in the real world is misguided at best.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday May 26, 2014 @02:03PM (#47093553) Journal

    Then again, the behavior we call psychopathy in our polite safe benign situation might be survival-optimal choices when actually confronted with a situation where the results aren't academic, but materially affect our chances of living through today.

    I'm not entirely sure that the mural yardstick we use in measuring ourselves is worth anything more than firewood when "shit gets real". As a soldier friend if mine explained, that was one if the challenges in integrating back to civilian life, it's an entirely different context.

  • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Monday May 26, 2014 @07:43PM (#47095777)

    I wonder if EVE qualifies.

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.

Working...