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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths 212

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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.