Researchers study ArcheAge’s beta wipe for real-world apocalypse behavior

If the world was to end this week, how would people react? That’s an interesting question to ponder in the abstract, but researchers took this hypothetical one step further by looking at an MMORPG wipe to map out the behavior of players at the end of their virtual world.

In a recent study, a research team looked at a massive amount of data — over 270 million player records — from the conclusion of ArcheAge’s beta. The purpose was to try to get a feel for human behavior during “end times” and draw possible parallels to what might happen in our world. While there was some anarchy and nasty behavior, the study notes that a majority of people mostly played out their remaining time in the social sphere. Quests and other progression paths were abandoned, while more players simply grouped up for fun and to take on interesting challenges.

The report’s conclusions are fascinating: “We have provided additional empirical evidence in favor of the emergence of pro-social behavior. Our findings that the sentiment of social grouping specific chat channels trend towards ‘happier’ as the end times approach is a first indication of this pro-social behavior: existing social relationships are likely being strengthened. Further, we saw that players that stayed until the end of the world exhibited peaks in the number of small temporary groupings: new social relationships are being formed.”

By the way, the title of this report is simply awesome: “I Would Not Plant Apple Trees If The World Will Be Wiped: Analyzing Hundreds of Millions of Behavioral Records of Players During An MMORPG Best Test.”

Source: PC Gamer
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22 Comments on "Researchers study ArcheAge’s beta wipe for real-world apocalypse behavior"

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Utakata

I don’t know one can ever conclude the behavior of humans around coming of an apocalypse in comparing it to a beta wipe. Partly because there are many types of apocalypses that could annihilate the human race before it had a chance to react and/or even known what just hit it. Or happen so slowly and quietly, they don’t realize it until it’s too late. So yeah, this study borders on false equivalences IMO.

To be fair though, I am not sure what else they can use simulate the social dynamics of endtimes when humans realize their demise is at hand. I am pretty sure it’s not something researchers can just plug variables into a computer model to see what happens. So my feelings are mixed on this.

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Pedge Jameson

Well if there was any game to study constant collapse and chaos….

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jay

I think the “researchers” in question here, were one person writing a paper for their PHD program, that simply used the AA wipe as a metaphor for the end of the world. In the terms of research used for scientific use, I don’t think there was much done here. Looks more like someone simply played AA, and needed an idea for a paper, and went with what they saw happening in their personal lives.

https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.01500

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Dividion

Wouldn’t the closures of games like SWG, CoH and AC be more applicable for “end time” comparisons.

Simply put, people end up being both sad and furious, yet it also unites them. Well, except for those that go on murderous rampages.

semugh
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semugh

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Pedge Jameson

Wow COH looks pretty damn good, must have been when I still had a crappy PC. :( When I played it looked not as smoothed out. Jeez what I missed out on.

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Bryan Correll

I don’t think this would transfer over to the real world particularly well, as getting drunk, high, laid, etc. were not practical options for a beta end.

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Sorrior Draconus

I wonder what ffxiv 1.0 shutdown would say given it was the end of the game as they knew it

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SpookyDonkey24

That’s what I was thinking. I feel like this would have been the perfect game for the study.

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Witches

If the world was about to end, the majority of people would determine my actions, i would prefer just doing fun stuff until the end, but if people were rioting or whatever i wouldn’t really have that chance, unless you live in a very isolated place with your own power and water supply, and if you’re not the follow the mob type of person, you will react rather than act.

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Blood Ravens Gaming

While reading this all I could think of is…. who paid for this crap? If they received gov. grants to conduct this stupidity then I am greatly saddened. If they were independently funded to play “what if” then more power to them.

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

These were my thoughts as well except I threw in a couple doomsday scenarios that they were paid by wealthy eugenecists who believe the world is overpopulated because they want quiet city life in Manhattan.

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KumiKaze

The study is definitely interesting, but there is a slight difference with the end of times and the end of a beta. I don’t mean because one is real life and one is a video game, but the fact that it was a beta. Meaning that after the wipe the world would start anew. While there are similarities in the finality of a beta and the end of the world, I think behaviors would change knowing they could just start again.

If they want to really study this they need to look at behaviors for a game that is coming to the end forever, and not just a server wipe.

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Serrenity

I think the beta vs live definitely impacted results but it’s also hard to get that big a sampling size from a truly dying game — mostly because if it’s dying it’s probably because the pop is low.

I’m thinking they chose bigger sample size with a less ideal scenario.

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Armsbend

I’m trying to come up with a bigger waste of time than “researchers” studying ArcheAge and I’m coming up completely empty.

This is one of those college papers written by undergrads people ask you to take a poll on. If I were the professor I’d fail everyone involved. Including anyone who loaned them school supplies.

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Utakata

There maybe an Ig Noble Prize in it for them though. <3

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Witches

Yes, if you don’t like the subject then the whole thing is worthless and there’s no point in even looking at it (aka, doing your job, if you’re the professor).

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Melissa McDonald

so basically,

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BalsBigBrother

Um slight typo in the report title in the last paragraph, best = beta :-)

Humans are social animals and we group up to share experiences. More so when times are sad or the going gets tough though I am not sure a beta wipe qualifies as that but that is still my general feeling overall

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MesaSage

I think it’s fitting the ad on this page right now is for Star Stable because that “report” is a load of horse dung. Nobody was hungry, scared or out-of-their-minds crazy when the game world went down. There’s actually nothing to be gained from comparing a bunch of Doritos munching Coke sipping MMOer’s to real-world people at the end of the real world. Sorry, but this is just dumb.

It reminds me of Glitch, which was frequented by all sorts of both professional and amateur psychologists. They would do stuff like run around and beg people for money and then drew some ridiculous conclusions about the giving (or not giving) nature of people in MMO’s. The problem was that resources were abundant and you could collect them freely and unlimited and then sell them for cash. Nobody should be sympathetic to sloth in an MMO. You were never in any danger, food was plentiful, and if you did run out of food you simply made a fun trip to Glitch Hell. And there was an achievement for that.

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TheDonDude

Came here to post this exact thing. Sure it’s fun when researchers use things like the WoW plague as modelling tools for real world applications, but honestly it seems so misguided. Human behavior in the safety of a video game isn’t going to be remotely similar to the real world.

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Melissa McDonald

Amen

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