As the world ends, will you lock arms and sing "Kumbayah" or embark on a path of law-breaking, anti-social behaviour? A new video game based study suggests that you may be singing. In the study based on the virtual actions of more than 80,000 players of the role-playing video game ArcheAge, researchers found that despite some violent acts, most players tended towards behaviour that was helpful to others as their virtual world came to an end. Researchers, including those from University at Buffalo (UB) in the US, classified 75 different in-game actions into 11 categories like combat, partying and building houses. Players were aware their actions were being monitored and that the game would end after about 11 weeks. As the game ended, anti-social behaviour such as murder did increase. However, the acts were conducted by a small percentage of the overall population. Researchers found that most players exhibited pro social behaviour such as strengthening existing social relationships and forming new ones. "It is kind of like sitting next to a stranger on the airplane.
You may keep to yourself during the flight, but as the plane reaches the runway, you strike up a conversation knowing the end is in sight," said Huy Kang Kim of Korea University in South Korea. The study offers a realistic view into the behaviour of people in an end-times scenario that is useful to both the game industry and other research communities, researchers said. "We realise that, because this is a video game, the true consequences of the world ending are purely virtual. That being said, our dataset represents about as close as we can get to an actual end-of-the-world scenario," said Ahreum Kang of UB.
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