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Feb 20, 2013


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It would be very interesting to examine the mapping between hardcore games and players. I think examining WoW is unlikely to bear fruit for precisely the reasons suggested in the paper - that there are few if any consequences to player death.

EvE Online is perhaps more fruitful ground because there are actual consequences connected to failure, though the abstraction of players-to-spaceships seems to toss a wrench into a mapping of human-to-avatar relationships. EvE goes out of its way to provide a layer of insulation to player death - you may loose a ship and a fair bit of dosh, but you'll still technically survive the encounter and experience a strictly monetary loss (speaking as someone who's dealt with that in relation to invested income in real life, it's not as punishing as many folks might believe - if you've got a healthy attitude towards investments then you treat money as if it had come from a Monopoly box - it's not real).

I'm inclined to think that if any existing game can be mapped to realistic human behavior it's probably the DayZ mod to the Arma2 game. This is a creation that's attracted a fairly significant number of hardcore players. The game is utterly unforgiving - if you're killed you're done. No Resurrection. No recovery. From what I've seen folks playing the game react in ways that are entirely plausible - they operate in a constant state of fear.

Mapping human civilization to games really comes down to two possibilities - we can map mob behavior in the manner that SimCity provides (developing calculations that reflect the anticipated actions of a large group of people). Or we can try and map the actions of individuals under stress, which is what DayZ seems to be doing.

Trying to map an "average" human reaction to "average" events in a virtual world is unlikely to ever yield useful data. Daily life for most people consists of uninteresting, repetitive activity. Useful information, however, can certainly be gleaned from placing an otherwise "average" group of individuals in decidedly un-average scenarios.

How do players react if they are placed in a survival situation and are knowingly infected with a lethal illness that can spread to other players, with the full awareness that they cannot survive the illness and will cause the permanent deaths of fellow players if they are exposed? Or, completely tangentially, how might a player react if they were tagged by an enemy and knew that any communication with their in-group might result in an assault on those individuals.

I think there is an enormous potential for developing a better understanding of how human actions evolve based on stressful environments. I think uncompromising game environments are likely to be the fertile ground in which this sort of research can be pursued.

That's my two-cent's worth. I might be a crack-smoking idiot for suggesting it, but it's out there and up for everyone else to discuss.

The Other Nick


SWEET! I just got a free Minecraft card code at http://minecraftcode.me/


I wonder if you could use this to model other kinds of flows? It might be a neat way to teach children how electricity works, for example, using number of cars for amps, speed of cars for volts, width of road for resistance and so on.


fuckin coword

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