Forget about video experiments that show you how grand parents would react to hearing dubstep for the first time, or how children would react to hearing Guns N’ Roses, here’s the one that really matters.
There are countless movies and games that are all about the end of the world, not to mention a lot of pessimistic real life talk about our world coming to an end, and it begs the question how we’d really react in that kind of situation. Right now, it feels like everyone is picking sides and digging their heels in, but if we were truly facing the end times, would we divide and fight one another, or come together as a civilization?
You’d like to think you would be the hero blowing up the asteroid with a bomb, or convincing the aliens to go back home, or coming up with such a good argument for saving the environment that nobody could ignore you… but if you were truly faced with the END of the WORLD… how would you react?
It’s hard to study how people would react to the world ending without convincing them the world was about to end, so instead, researchers at the University of Buffalo setup a server in an MMORPG called ArcheAge. It’s a very open-ended game where you can more or less do what you want, making it a good setting to try this experience.
Upon joining the server, playpers are aware that everything they build and accomplish and gather in the game will be wiped in 11 weeks. Also, all of their actions and decisions were being closely studied by researchers to see how people played the game differently, knowing the clock was ticking.
“We believe that the end of the [game] is a relatively good approximation of an “end times” scenario, and thus the present work is not only useful for the understanding of players’ behavior but can also begin to shed light on human behavior in general under such conditions,” explained the authors of the study.
With the knowledge that they don’t have a ton of time, players were a lot nicer to each other. There was a lot less competition in the game, and even leveling up happened less frequently. Players banded together to work as a team instead of focusing as much on their individual success.