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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?'
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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

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  • You need only look at the comments on Slashdot to prove this. ;-)

    • 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.

  • 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 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....
        • by DM9290 (797337)

          If you naturally are repelled by psychopathic behaviour, then performing it could strengthen that revulsion.

          so logically then the healthy portion of the population should be directed towards playing more violent games and watching more violent movies repeatedly in order to strengthen their revulsion to psychopathic behavior.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            So logically, the healthy portion of the population would play the game based upon the marketing and advertising presented, find the game undesirable to play and move on. Of course psychopaths similarly will be drawn to psychopathic game play because it is in their nature. Hence the reason why certain three letter government agencies are monitoring those types of games and their users.

            Take Eve online, any discussion of adding PvE, is ruthlessly attacked by psychopathic PvP adherents because they need the

      • 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 tlhIngan (30335)

          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"?

          Perhaps that's why every study is inconclusive, actually.

          The reality is, the military uses games to desensitize soldiers so pulling the trigger is much easier - the training is dehumanizing the other side. It's well studie

          • Perhaps that's why every study is inconclusive, actually.

            Except studies are not inconclusive. They have consistently found no link between games and violent behavior. The only evidence from anti-gamers are anecdotes about the Columbine killers or Adam Lanza being gamers, or conjecture that games are the "obvious" explanation for the "dramatic rise" in shootings (reality: there has been a dramatic DECLINE in shootings).

            It's well studied that video games are an effective method of this

            If it is "well studied" then can you provide a reference to one of the studies?

            • by Reziac (43301) *

              Well-studied doesn't necessarily mean well-researched or soundly-concluded, of course...

              Back in the Columbine era, when someone coughed up a massacres-by-year chart, I noted that declines in violence followed very well after each increment of violent games, with significant drops for DOOM and Quake (and others I forget, later on), but right on the same path as how 'sex crimes' declined a chunk with the advent of BBSs, and a whole lot more with wide internet availability.

        • by Sabriel (134364)

          Er, what? Re-read the post you replied to - they're not saying games cause immoral behaviour, they're saying games (that don't provide a moral framework) _used as a substitute for proper parenting_ (providing a moral framework) cause immoral behaviour.

          Most children internalise the morality of their social environment. Raised by X? More likely to identify with and share traits of X. Doesn't matter whether X is pacifists or militants, theists or atheists, etc. If the only moral framework someone bothers to pr

          • they're saying games (that don't provide a moral framework) _used as a substitute for proper parenting_ (providing a moral framework) cause immoral behaviour.

            This is a testable hypothesis, and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is true. If (bad parents + games) is worse that (bad parents without games) then the games themselves would be negatively correlated with morality (unless the games somehow cause parents to be better). Yet they aren't.

            If the only moral framework someone bothers to provide to their child is a bunch of activities that reward violent behaviour, I'm not going to be particularly optimistic about the outcome.

            I would be far more concerned about people basing their opinions on wild conjecture rather than actual data. As video games have become more popular, crime, and violent crime in particular, has fallen dramatically.

            • by Sabriel (134364)

              This is a testable hypothesis, and there is no evidence whatsoever that it is true. If (bad parents + games) is worse that (bad parents without games) then the games themselves would be negatively correlated with morality (unless the games somehow cause parents to be better). Yet they aren't.

              Hey. I did NOT suggest that hypothesis, that (bad parents + games) are worse than (bad parents without games). What part of "that don't provide a moral framework" did you miss following the word "games", and what pa

        • 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"?

          I agree and think that the fact is that *most* kids are playing video games now days as a part of their usual leisure time and have been for the past 15 - 20 years. If there were such a correlation, there would be a lot more "out of control" kids running around.

          • by kesuki (321456)

            have you ever sat 16 hours in front of a computer with basically 95% of that time trying to type commands and move and click a mouse?

            do you have any idea what that does to you?

            i do, because i have been playing video games since i was 5.
            i am 36 now.
            most of the games i played didn't cause lasting harm and only one other game had me playing day and night, until i found warcraft 3, and it's expansion frozen throne.
            but just one game was so addictive i'd have jitters trying to sit still and not play.
            just one game

          • by Reziac (43301) *

            Indeed ... I figure I've killed over 20 million innocent hellspawn, which if translated to Realworld behavior, would make me one of the premier mass murderers in history.... who knows, I could have depopulated Canada! I've always wanted my own country. ;)

            [If you're wondering how I reached that number, there's a particular kill that has odds of 1 in 5 million, and I've had it happen four times now. Close enough for slaughtering work.]

      • by Ravaldy (2621787)

        I think the NSA posted this because I just had a conversation with my son about violent games. This weekend for the first time I've let him play GTA. He loves it and speaks out loud while playing. I actually played with him to show him he doesn't have to kill officers and civilians to get what he wants. I also took the time to explain to him it's a game...

        At the end of the day it's about parenting. Parents need to be involved with their children to ensure they stay on the morally correct path.

        • I just had a conversation with my son about violent games. This weekend for the first time I've let him play GTA. He loves it and speaks out loud while playing. I actually played with him to show him he doesn't have to kill officers and civilians to get what he wants.

          You showed him how to pick up hookers? (Grin)

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        I think the ability to differentiate is inherent in normal people. I say this because I've seen two-year-olds who readily differentiate between their toy (a toddler's fantasy game) that they can beat the crap out of, and another person whom they approach with affection. They aren't old enough to understand ethics or morals, and don't yet have much impulse control, yet they will differentiate. They understand "pretend" and that the rules are different from "real life".

        As to people using video games as babysi

  • Lemmings. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rhaban (987410) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:21AM (#47092533)

    Lemmings makes players act like psychopaths.

    • Lemmings makes players act like psychopaths.

      I'm a psychopathic Lemming you insensitive clod!

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:26AM (#47092551)

    I had finally made it to the airfield, gotten an M-16 with a M-203 grenade launcher (ammo for the gun but no grenades) in one of the barracks, when I see someone running outside. It was twilight, so I laid down in the hallway and waited. I see a silhouette and flashlight in the door. I say "friendly" but get no response, so I open fire. I can't tell if my first burst hit him, but I see movement again and keep shooting. Next thing I know zombies are all over me and I died. I must have killed him with my first burst but the shooting attracted zombies. After that I stopped playing, because it took forever to get that far. But really it was a fun game, and the only time I've ever been more afraid of other players than "real" enemies like the zombies.

    But thinking about it, that's probably how I would react in real life. I had just managed to get a good weapon, I had supplies, and I saw someone that could be a potential threat to me. When you have to work hard to get something, you want to keep it. I couldn't discern their intentions, so I killed them. My first,and really only, priority was my survival. There were also times where I killed people that weren't immediate threats, that never knew I was there, but knew if they saw me they would probably kill me as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        Rust is worse. Unlike DayZ, where (if I remember right) players start with a pistol, in Rust people start with a rock.

        When I was playing they had taken away the starting pistol in DayZ. So yeah, people could sit there just shooting fresh spawns, but it wasn't worth it because you spawn with basically nothing.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:58AM (#47092755)

        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 same thing happens on some DayZ servers, but at least the random spawn area is most of the coast, so it's not viable to lock down the spawn.

        In both cases, the devs ought to find a way to avoid this; this behavior is griefing that is hitting the developers in their pocketbook.

        The worst case scenario is someone trying the game, getting killed on their first spawn, and then quitting to never come back. Sure, that person already bought the game. That person won't be telling their friends the game is awesome, or getting their friends to buy it.

        It's not just hypothetical; it happened to me on my first spawn in DayZ Standalone. I'm just coming off the beach, and some player tells me to get down on the ground. Since I had plenty of experience with the DayZ Mod, I knew I had nothing to gain by complying - just my own time to waste. So, they shot me, and I respawned on a less populated part of the coast.

      • It is for reasons like this that I just do not waste my time playing multiplayer games. Most players are dickheads teenagers who have nothing better to do and little or no education.
        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Bingo. The decline of the game becomes self-reinforcing as the teenage psychos drive away the non-psycho players.

          I like the idea of DayZ, but it just sounds like idiot kids intent on screwing up other people's game. I won't be buying it unless they do something about that.

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          Same here. I'm not really into PVP against strangers and as much exploration and growth as DayZ and Rust may involve, in the end there are enough people who just love shooting other players that those games seem to be nothing but PVP with extremely slow resource acquisition added in. Every single story I've heard about those games reinfoces thi impression. I'm not going to pay for a game and spend lots of time to grind up to a handgun only to get killed by a more experienced player and lose all my progress.
      • by pmontra (738736)
        I'm surprised the designers made that decision. Didn't that destroy the game? I mean, why should I attempt to pass this entry test until I'm lucky enough to escape the death squad? I might go play 2048 instead of buying Rust. Oh wait, 2048 wasn't there yet. Angry Birds maybe?
      • by genner (694963)

        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.

        Med-kits are useful and everyone spawns with them.
        That being said....... [imgur.com]

    • I don't play Rust or DayZ (not a PC gamer), so I'm not understanding something here. Wouldn't cooperating with other players be beneficial? More zombies than players right? So wouldn't it be like the Walking Dead when Rick figures out that more people is better because when you have plenty of people you have more skills/hands/eyes/brains available to do stuff?

      So why aren't smart players camping spawns to recruit new players into groups so they can secure larger areas and more resources, and then when gro

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        I don't play Rust or DayZ (not a PC gamer), so I'm not understanding something here. Wouldn't cooperating with other players be beneficial? More zombies than players right? So wouldn't it be like the Walking Dead when Rick figures out that more people is better because when you have plenty of people you have more skills/hands/eyes/brains available to do stuff?

        So why aren't smart players camping spawns to recruit new players into groups so they can secure larger areas and more resources, and then when group borders meet up, merging groups into town-states.

        The short answer is that some people are just assholes.

        The long answer is more complicated. In a game like DayZ, you have to work to get equipped, to get food, to find shelter. At any time you can be killed and have to start all over with nothing. Now, imagine you come across a village that you want to scavenge. You can go in, risk getting attacked by another player, risk getting killed by zombies, and you don't even know if there is anything worth the risk. But if you see someone else searching the

        • by genner (694963)

          I don't play Rust or DayZ (not a PC gamer), so I'm not understanding something here. Wouldn't cooperating with other players be beneficial? More zombies than players right? So wouldn't it be like the Walking Dead when Rick figures out that more people is better because when you have plenty of people you have more skills/hands/eyes/brains available to do stuff?

          So why aren't smart players camping spawns to recruit new players into groups so they can secure larger areas and more resources, and then when group borders meet up, merging groups into town-states.

          The short answer is that some people are just assholes.

          The long answer is more complicated. In a game like DayZ, you have to work to get equipped, to get food, to find shelter. At any time you can be killed and have to start all over with nothing. Now, imagine you come across a village that you want to scavenge. You can go in, risk getting attacked by another player, risk getting killed by zombies, and you don't even know if there is anything worth the risk. But if you see someone else searching the village, and say you have a rifle, you can just sit back, let them take all the risk by clearing the houses and grabbing anything good, then once they leave you can simply shoot them and take whatever gear they found along with whatever they had on them. You have significantly reduced the risk to yourself by doing so and get to live a little bit longer. Plus, since when you spawn you spawn with essentially nothing (just a flashlight), camping a spawn location (which is really the entire coastline) doesn't really help yourself since you would have to give things to your new buddy for him to be of any immediate use, and then would have to split whatever you found later with them as well.

          It's really just history repeating itself. People do work together but only in the small groups of people that they trust. Tribe mentality takes over and outsiders are killed on sight because they can't be trusted.

      • Few people have the brains to work together in an environment that does not have punishment for criminal acts. Most people only care about killing others and taking everything for themselves, and laughing at the "losers" as a bonus. This type of person ends up in jail, not in a community.
  • 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.

    • The Game of Thrones.

    • They cease to exist, but they don't lose their stuff?

    • by dpidcoe (2606549)

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

      Key point here: no consequences for both the aggressor and the victim.

      If I do something mean to someone in a game, it takes place in that game. As soon as everyone quits playing, actions taken ingame cease to matter since it was just a game.

      Societal norms are just rules that have been made up by society. Games have their own norms made up by the players. Different societies will often have norms so different that they consider each other to be evil. Applying a real life societies values to a game soci

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:31AM (#47092585)

    Lots of people care about virtual persons beyond what would be purely rational. Just as someone may cry because of what happens in a novel, someone might get upset for losing a player in his virtual sports team and someone else might not do a certain quest because they'd feel bad about what happens to the virtual NPC.

    I've always believed that those who behave as beasts while protected by the anonymity of the internet, or of a game, are actually just showing their true nature.

    However, I see it as a sign of civilization to have the worse among us trolling online or being sadist psychopaths in video games, instead of torturing animals, or people.

    I believe there will always be evil people, and the best we can do is what we're doing. Giving then a medium to express their rotten nature, that does the least possible amount of harm.

  • 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.

    • 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 Xest (935314)

        "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"."

        Some would simply call this childish humour. Just because you don't find it amusing doesn't mean it's done to upset people. The motivation could be just as much to amuse people.

        The problem is that what is offensive and distasteful to one, could be comedic to another, and it's entirely subjective to just declare that because you don't find

    • Re:Is it possible? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Monday May 26, 2014 @12:24PM (#47092921)

      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.

      Game Theory allows for different attitudes on the part of the players. A psychopathic attitude is basically a me-first/screw-everyone else attitude. When a game (entertainment or mathematical theory) has no real-world consequences, you have freedom to let your inner psychopath go. And everyone has one - it's basically the 2-year old that most of us have left behind.

      • This reminds me of the Prisoner's Dilemma [wikipedia.org]. There's a few different variations of the reward, but the dilemma goes as follows:

        You have two prisoners that are each offered a chance at freedom. They are given the choice to either rat out the other or remain silent. If both rat out the other, they both get a longer sentence. If only one rats out the other, they get a much reduced sentence. If they both remain silent, then they get something in between.

        Obviously a "psychopathic attitude" would be to consis
    • Very easy. On the rare occasions that I played multiplayer, I remembered all the time that there is a person behind the virtual character in front of me, so why the hell I would attack him for no reason? Why? It can be a virtual character but it's still a person, why would I do something against him I would not want to do against me?

      Now the psychopath does not think so. He takes pleasure in harming others, no matter if the person is real or virtual. And is just easier to do it in a virtual world where th
      • by smaddox (928261)

        It is certainly true that some psychopaths take pleasure in harming others, but it is not true that all psychopaths do. Psychopathy is more an absence of empathy.

      • I remembered all the time that there is a person behind the virtual character in front of me, so why the hell I would attack him for no reason?

        Because he's not worth any XP alive?

        • But he's worth more to you ALIVE. Two humans are much more dangerous and capable than one.

          • He's only worth more to me alive if he knows that *I* am worth more to him alive.

            When I was hunting in the Frontiers of Dark Age of Camelot (lo! these many years ago), there were a few people like that. But not many, even on my own side....

  • by Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) on Monday May 26, 2014 @11:41AM (#47092631)

    Has been down that road before it was cool.

    How fondly I remember the sheer horror of seeing a player name in red text on the edge of my screen while my miner was full of ore and ingots on his bag. How people with gray names were essentially free loot to be gang banged by the blues. Summon a Daemon in the middle of a though dungeon battle to kill your "allies" so you could rob them blind without incurring the dreaded red status.

    That game was so broken and so much fun.

  • 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 gstoddart (321705)

      I believe that without proper socialization, human society would rapidly degrade into a "natural" winner-takes-all slugfest of brutality.

      Would??? Look around the world, I'd say we largely have or are in the middle of it.

      I've maintained for years 'civilization' is a thin veneer over mankind essentially being barbarians, and that it's getting thinner every year.

      • I've maintained for years 'civilization' is a thin veneer over mankind essentially being barbarians, and that it's getting thinner every year.

        They were saying the same thing 1000 years ago.

        And 2000 years ago....

        • by bentcd (690786)

          I've maintained for years 'civilization' is a thin veneer over mankind essentially being barbarians, and that it's getting thinner every year.

          They were saying the same thing 1000 years ago.

          And 2000 years ago....

          The first half of the topmost speculation is probably correct, and the last half is probably not.

          It is a mark of the great strength of human culture that we have been able to so effectively suppress our barbaric animal nature.

    • I think we sort of have two different origins of psychopathy.

      Number one, and I think the most common stereotypical one, is taught to be a psychopath. Someone taught to kill and torture from an early age with abuse/neglect/etc. These are the ones most like the ones you see in movies and the ones most likely to end up in prison. Children are very elastic and resilient. You can teach them to be killers, or feral dogs, anything you want.

      2) Some number of people seem to be born without shame, or something really

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Some number of people seem to be born without shame, or something really like that.

        I believe the word you are looking for is generally accepted as 'empathy'.

        • No, psychopaths tend to be pretty good at empathy. They are just less likely to care about the emotions they detect in others.

    • by Livius (318358)

      Three-year-olds are nasty selfish creatures because over evolutionary timescales, most of them did not survive to adulthood without being selfish. It's not lack of socialized learning, it's a simple reflection of desperation.

  • The threat of repercussions â" say, for example, prison â" 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.

    Or, it doesn't reveal jack squat because the people know they are playing a video game and thus behave a lot differently than they would if this was real life.

  • 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."

  • I mean, nothing beats violently wasting on the digital avatars of my fellow players AND MAKING THEM DIE VIOLENTLY in order to relieve some stress after a frustrating day.

    Healthy release or psychopathic tendencies? The media driven Psychoanalytic Jury is still out, but our sources say that they are leaning to full blown psychosis, more at 11.

    • I guess it's kind of a fine line. Take Skyrim for example, I was actually kinda repulsed by some of the quests, especially the Daedric ones (Boethia for example). And I don't want to kill Paarthurnax, it feels wrong, he's a good guy. Fuck Delphine and Esbern.
      With the Dragonborn addon, I couldn't even bring myself to kill an innocent Netch and break up a Netch family just for the stupid jelly.

      OTOH, I don't seem to have any problem killing bandits left and right, because they're murderers. I also quic
      • This. You can play a game that allows you to be violent/sadist, but it does not mean you need to be violent/sadist. I also refused quests in the game for not agreeing with them, and eliminated several patrols of the high elves because I did not accept them oppressing the nords.
      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        True. I recently picked up my never-finished Fallout: New Vegas playthrough. I play a reasonably good guy like I usually do in RPGs. Stellar karma, usually trying to resolve quests in the best possible way, even trying to get out of situations without killing anyone if they don't try to kill me first. I have no qualms about shooting raider-type people but they have no qualms about a lot of really nasty things and it's a tough world. Still, I try to be nice to civilized people.

        Except for Caesar's Legion. W
        • by Wolfrider (856)

          --Wow, small world. :) I just started playing F:NV about a week ago and it's really addicting.

          --I ended up killing Vulpes Inculta and his troops early on (in Nipton) with the Incinerator that I looted from the NCR prison complex, after demolishing the Powder Gangers. It was an interesting interaction - I gained fame with the Legion after agreeing with him, then killed him in a sneak attack. Now I'm supposedly "neutral" to the Legion according to the Pipboy. ;-)

          --I usually play along the same lines as you i

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Monday May 26, 2014 @12:36PM (#47092985)
    If you ever go into academia and become a professor. (Steal from your grad students then knife'em in the back if they say boo, blow off your undergrad students since let's be honest you're reputation is your research, etc. Why yes, I am cynical.)
  • 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.

  • This has been proven by psychologists repeatedly. Just because someone does something in fantasy doesn't mean they would do it in reality or even see it the same way as they would in reality.

    We understand it is pretend. When you kill someone in a game there is no moral feeling of guilt because they're not people. Its as real as a 6 year old playing war with plastic soldiers and then randomly knocking a few of them down as dead.

    It has no impact on our psychology. Its play.

    Any so called psychologist that does

    • by Wolfrider (856)

      --Some of us evidently care more than others. When I was playing Fallout 2 and one of my companions (especially Sulik) got killed, I would reload from the last save because 1) I felt bad for him and 2) he was a great companion to have in the game. Also 3) because had was carrying a truckload of extra stuff that was too heavy for me alone.

      --This carries on to other games as well - if I'm playing solo in Halo 4 and my disposable squad from the Infinity gets killed off, I feel slightly bad that I wasn't able t

      • Then you of course feel badly when people die in movies, books, etc?

        Or are video games the only medium of artistic expression that must be held accountable for displays of violence while of course movies and books have no responsibility what so ever?

        This whole thing is little more then the last generation shaking its tennis ball capped stick at the next telling them to get off his lawn.

        Nothing more.

  • 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

  • by bitt3n (941736)

    what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.

    you lost me

  • I wonder if EVE qualifies.

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