ArcheAge Used For Real-World End Of Days Behavioral Study
Want to find out how people would react to an end-of-the-world scenario? Why not study an MMORPG to find out? This is exactly what a group of researchers did when they studied player behavior during the 4th and final ArcheAge closed beta test.
The research is titled, “I Would Not Plant Apple Trees If The World Will Be Wiped: Analyzing Hundreds of Millions of Behavioral Records of Players During An MMORPG Beta Test.” The title is in reference to the adage, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree,” by Martin Luther.
As part of their research, the team analyzed 270 million player records during the final days of the test, which, like most closed beta tests, ended with a wipe. The researchers felt that this was a good simulation for the end of the world because, according to them, “at the end of the closed beta test, all user data is deleted, and thus, the outcome (or penalty) of players' in-game behaviors in the last few days loses its meaning.”
Surprisingly, instead of the chaos, plundering, and outright rule-breaking that we’ve come to associate with the end of the world, the findings show quite the opposite. The researchers write:
“Our findings show that there are no apparent pandemic behavior changes, but some outliers were more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior (e.g., player killing). We also found that contrary to the reassuring adage that "Even if I knew the world would go to pieces tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree," players abandoned character progression, showing a drastic decrease in quest completion, leveling, and ability changes at the end of the beta test.”
Furthermore, the team also states that, “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."
Despite being used as a simulation for the apocalypse, ArcheAge seems to be doing quite well. Watch the launch trailer for their third episode, Archeage: Revelation, after the break, or you can check out the full article at PC Gamer and the full research here.