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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the aka-every-game-on-xbox-live dept.

Games 212

An article at Wired takes a look at two multiplayer survival games, DayZ and Rust, and at the behavior of players when their actions are freed from a civilized moral code. 'Violence wouldn't bother a psychopath, [Dr. Adam Perkins] says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions — say, for example, prison — might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.

Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says imagining ourselves doing something horrible is a way to see ourselves in a new light. "One of the ways we keep ourselves moral is to imagine the terrible things we could do, but then don't do," Ronson says. "You stand on a train platform and think, 'I could push that person in front of the train.' That thought pops into your head, and it doesn't make you a lunatic. It makes you a good person, because what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.'" ... But we're still left with the big question: Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'

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The last sentence (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092499)

Why write an article when one simple sentence sums up everything?

Humans are animals, beasts if you will. The only reason we act civilized is because laws penalize uncivilized behavior such that the benefits of behaving outweigh the benefits of misbehaving

Re:The last sentence (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092609)

First post, first psychopath. Many of us refrain from "uncivilized behaviour" because we think it's wrong, not because some law says we will be punished. Many forms of "uncivilized behaviour" are not illegal, and yet most of us will not do them. Some of us will disobey laws, because we think the law is wrong.

Re:The last sentence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093383)

There's also the actual value of life to consider. You can't exactly use behavior in games like Day-Z as indications of anything beyond Day-Z's gameplay behavior trends. It's a virtual world. If I kill your toon, that's all I did. It's 1's and 0's and nothing more than an extensive puzzle to solve. Seriously, should we start psychotherapy on everyone who plays chess?

Re:The last sentence (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47093423)

I feel bad when I run over a pedestrian in GTAV, but not as bad as when I run into a lightpost.

In the real world, it would be the other way around. I've never run into either, but I like to think I'd steer for the lightpost given only those choices.

Using video games as a guide to how people would behave in the real world is misguided at best.

Re:The last sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092613)

Spoken like a true psychopath.

Re:The last sentence (0)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47092805)

Humans are animals, beasts if you will.

Missing the obligatory postscript "between the sheets".

Re:The last sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093017)

Sloth is an animal.

As Stephen King said... (0)

alphabet26 (534873) | about 2 months ago | (#47092519)

As long as you keep the gators fed.
Why We Crave Horror Movies [kings.edu]

LOL ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47092523)

You need only look at the comments on Slashdot to prove this. ;-)

Re:LOL ... (3, Insightful)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about 2 months ago | (#47093337)

You would get a lopsided view of the world if you base your opinions solely on the comments on some Internet forum.

Just like many of us would not commit a crime just because we feel it is wrong (and not in fear of any legal consequences), so many people do not make childish or rude comments just because it is on the Internet. As old the expression goes, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything". Unfortunately, this imbalance can often make it seem as if the Internet is full of sad jerks whereas the truth is more likely that there is a vast unspoken majority lurking behind the scenes.

Or, we could just be playing a game (5, Insightful)

djrosen (265939) | about 2 months ago | (#47092527)

But that wouldn't be very interesting of help to fear monger, would it.

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (0)

djrosen (265939) | about 2 months ago | (#47092535)

s/of/or

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (5, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 months ago | (#47092579)

Correct on all accounts. Playing a video game is not bad by nature. If the player can easily understand that "it's a game" and not confuse the game with reality, I don't see an issue. One of the major issues I see with mental health and video games is that some parents use games as baby sitters. They don't provide the moral context, then wonder why their kids get out of control.

I see this just like I see people blaming Wily Coyote cartoons for violence. Entertainment with proper guidance is just entertainment, but some people need a scape goat.

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092707)

Senior System Engineer/Architect

Dude, seriously, nobody gives a fuck about your job title.

Not even a little.

Re: Or, we could just be playing a game (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092779)

And most likely that job title is a load of steamy shit. With a job like thst yiud have no time to commen here. Everyone knows youre still living in mommies basement, no needed to hide it BC you're in good company here :)

Re: Or, we could just be playing a game (1, Funny)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about 2 months ago | (#47093101)

Stop being jealous.

---
C.I.O.

Re: Or, we could just be playing a game (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47094123)

I live in a rental tub, like Diogenes used to, but I think he owned his tub. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org] This one is made of cast iron because a magnet sticks to it, and it's pretty good all around x-ray protection, except from above.

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (5, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | about 2 months ago | (#47092807)

Neuro plasticity indicates that what you repeatedly perform becomes a more entrenched behaviour as those neural paths become strengthened. That would seem to indicate that it would exacrebate natural tendencies. If you naturally are repelled by psychopathic behaviour, then performing it could strengthen that revulsion. If on the other hand you have psychopathic tendencies....

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093447)

This assumes that playing a video game is similar enough to actual psychopathic behavior to activate those pathways.

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47092975)

They don't provide the moral context, then wonder why their kids get out of control.

If this was true, there would be plenty of data with a positive correlation between game playing and immoral behavior. Can you point to any evidence that shows that games cause kids to "get out of control"?

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093251)

Case in point: there is not much violent crime in Seoul.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/nov/30/new-york-crime-free-day-deadliest-cities-worldwide

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (2)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about 2 months ago | (#47093075)

I think the NSA posted this because I just had a conversation with my son about violent games. This weekend for the first time I've let him play GTA. He loves it and speaks out loud while playing. I actually played with him to show him he doesn't have to kill officers and civilians to get what he wants. I also took the time to explain to him it's a game...

At the end of the day it's about parenting. Parents need to be involved with their children to ensure they stay on the morally correct path.

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 2 months ago | (#47093589)

I just had a conversation with my son about violent games. This weekend for the first time I've let him play GTA. He loves it and speaks out loud while playing. I actually played with him to show him he doesn't have to kill officers and civilians to get what he wants.

You showed him how to pick up hookers? (Grin)

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about 2 months ago | (#47094203)

Lol !!!

Father of the year award.

Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093085)

It's "Wile E Coyote," dammit *pull out my Uzi and...*

Lemmings. (4, Funny)

Rhaban (987410) | about 2 months ago | (#47092533)

Lemmings makes players act like psychopaths.

So does Game of Thrones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092599)

Ever played the Game of Thrones board game? A major component of the game is resolving disputes between other players, with the only guiding principle being "which outcome would better suit me?"

The design of the game forces you to be a backstabbing psychopath...and that is precisely what makes the game fun and interesting.

Re:So does Game of Thrones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092641)

So, basically a rehash of Monopoly, then?

Re:Lemmings. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092659)

Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?

Re:Lemmings. (2)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 2 months ago | (#47092671)

Lemmings makes players act like psychopaths.

I'm a psychopathic Lemming you insensitive clod!

Re:Lemmings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092865)

More like crazy psychotic dictators to be precise on that one.

Order up the lemmings, we gotta bridge to cross, and there's a whole lotta holes.

Re:Lemmings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093737)

D&D is pretty bad, too. They don't call your standard D&D group "murder-hobos" for nothing.

Re:Lemmings. (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 months ago | (#47094023)

Depends. You can have a very, very funny and good game on D&D if you have good players. Bad players exist in any type of game where you can have some kind of competition between them.

Kinda like the Marines? Army? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092537)

Because that is their job you know. Kill. KILL. KILL!!

Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092541)

Duhhh.... that's what games as a form of escape means.

My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (4, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 months ago | (#47092551)

I had finally made it to the airfield, gotten an M-16 with a M-203 grenade launcher (ammo for the gun but no grenades) in one of the barracks, when I see someone running outside. It was twilight, so I laid down in the hallway and waited. I see a silhouette and flashlight in the door. I say "friendly" but get no response, so I open fire. I can't tell if my first burst hit him, but I see movement again and keep shooting. Next thing I know zombies are all over me and I died. I must have killed him with my first burst but the shooting attracted zombies. After that I stopped playing, because it took forever to get that far. But really it was a fun game, and the only time I've ever been more afraid of other players than "real" enemies like the zombies.

But thinking about it, that's probably how I would react in real life. I had just managed to get a good weapon, I had supplies, and I saw someone that could be a potential threat to me. When you have to work hard to get something, you want to keep it. I couldn't discern their intentions, so I killed them. My first,and really only, priority was my survival. There were also times where I killed people that weren't immediate threats, that never knew I was there, but knew if they saw me they would probably kill me as well.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092647)

Rust is worse. Unlike DayZ, where (if I remember right) players start with a pistol, in Rust people start with a rock. The rock is a melee-only weapon with a horribly long swing time. It's deadly at close range, but it takes maybe half an hour to get a gun in Rust.

A very, very common sight in Rust is players with M4s and other military-grade weapons (which supposedly are only "placeholders" but have been in the game since its inception) killing people who have just spawned. On some servers, there are entire teams of people dedicated to camping popular spawn locations for the SOLE PURPOSE of killing anyone who dares to randomly spawn there.

There is no benefit to doing this. The rock is a useless item, not used for making anything else, and at most the new spawns might find a few wood or stone before they're killed.. neither of which are useful to the guys in metal bases with assault weapons. There is no advantage to killing like this - in fact, you're wasting precious ammo - but people do it anyway. Granted, a lot of them seem to be pre-teens with no jobs who can spend 24 hours a day grinding ammunition.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 months ago | (#47092685)

Rust is worse. Unlike DayZ, where (if I remember right) players start with a pistol, in Rust people start with a rock.

When I was playing they had taken away the starting pistol in DayZ. So yeah, people could sit there just shooting fresh spawns, but it wasn't worth it because you spawn with basically nothing.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092755)

On some servers, there are entire teams of people dedicated to camping popular spawn locations for the SOLE PURPOSE of killing anyone who dares to randomly spawn there.

There is no benefit to doing this.

The same thing happens on some DayZ servers, but at least the random spawn area is most of the coast, so it's not viable to lock down the spawn.

In both cases, the devs ought to find a way to avoid this; this behavior is griefing that is hitting the developers in their pocketbook.

The worst case scenario is someone trying the game, getting killed on their first spawn, and then quitting to never come back. Sure, that person already bought the game. That person won't be telling their friends the game is awesome, or getting their friends to buy it.

It's not just hypothetical; it happened to me on my first spawn in DayZ Standalone. I'm just coming off the beach, and some player tells me to get down on the ground. Since I had plenty of experience with the DayZ Mod, I knew I had nothing to gain by complying - just my own time to waste. So, they shot me, and I respawned on a less populated part of the coast.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 months ago | (#47092983)

It is for reasons like this that I just do not waste my time playing multiplayer games. Most players are dickheads teenagers who have nothing better to do and little or no education.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 months ago | (#47093221)

Bingo. The decline of the game becomes self-reinforcing as the teenage psychos drive away the non-psycho players.

I like the idea of DayZ, but it just sounds like idiot kids intent on screwing up other people's game. I won't be buying it unless they do something about that.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (1)

pmontra (738736) | about 2 months ago | (#47093183)

I'm surprised the designers made that decision. Didn't that destroy the game? I mean, why should I attempt to pass this entry test until I'm lucky enough to escape the death squad? I might go play 2048 instead of buying Rust. Oh wait, 2048 wasn't there yet. Angry Birds maybe?

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093367)

I killed someone with a 12 with my rock!

Never underestimate someone with a rock! ;)

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 months ago | (#47094045)

I don't play Rust or DayZ (not a PC gamer), so I'm not understanding something here. Wouldn't cooperating with other players be beneficial? More zombies than players right? So wouldn't it be like the Walking Dead when Rick figures out that more people is better because when you have plenty of people you have more skills/hands/eyes/brains available to do stuff?

So why aren't smart players camping spawns to recruit new players into groups so they can secure larger areas and more resources, and then when group borders meet up, merging groups into town-states.

Re:My favorite, and last, memory of DayZ (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 months ago | (#47094235)

I don't play Rust or DayZ (not a PC gamer), so I'm not understanding something here. Wouldn't cooperating with other players be beneficial? More zombies than players right? So wouldn't it be like the Walking Dead when Rick figures out that more people is better because when you have plenty of people you have more skills/hands/eyes/brains available to do stuff?

So why aren't smart players camping spawns to recruit new players into groups so they can secure larger areas and more resources, and then when group borders meet up, merging groups into town-states.

The short answer is that some people are just assholes.

The long answer is more complicated. In a game like DayZ, you have to work to get equipped, to get food, to find shelter. At any time you can be killed and have to start all over with nothing. Now, imagine you come across a village that you want to scavenge. You can go in, risk getting attacked by another player, risk getting killed by zombies, and you don't even know if there is anything worth the risk. But if you see someone else searching the village, and say you have a rifle, you can just sit back, let them take all the risk by clearing the houses and grabbing anything good, then once they leave you can simply shoot them and take whatever gear they found along with whatever they had on them. You have significantly reduced the risk to yourself by doing so and get to live a little bit longer. Plus, since when you spawn you spawn with essentially nothing (just a flashlight), camping a spawn location (which is really the entire coastline) doesn't really help yourself since you would have to give things to your new buddy for him to be of any immediate use, and then would have to split whatever you found later with them as well.

Not an analouge to reality (3, Insightful)

E-Rock (84950) | about 2 months ago | (#47092581)

In a world without consequences, I think most people would be pretty fucking vicious.

However, I don't think these games are a mirror to your real nature because of the other differences the game world creates. Most importantly, you're immortal and can go do something else whenever you want. Death is ultimately trivial compared to real life. Sure you lose your stuff, which sucks, but you don't cease to exist. The reverse is true for those you 'kill' in game.

Re:Not an analouge to reality (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 months ago | (#47092887)

The Game of Thrones.

Re:Not an analouge to reality (2)

dinfinity (2300094) | about 2 months ago | (#47093015)

They cease to exist, but they don't lose their stuff?

Re:Not an analouge to reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47094233)

In a world without consequences, I think most people would be pretty fucking vicious.

I think this is the core fallacy of the discussion. In a world without consequences, what does it even mean to be "vicious"? The whole idea of viciousness comes about precisely because there are consequences to one's actions, not merely at a lawful level or moral level but a physical level. Most people tend to think of vicious as a form of excessive behavior, even if it's lawful. After all, almost everything in reality is of a gray scale and it's precisely that excess (usually also the direction, but not always) that turns something from a virtue to a vice.

Yet in video games without consequences, it's most often nonsensical to speak of virtue, vice, or try to paint anything in black, white, or gray. The only part that can be said to be of virtue or vice is how much time you play video games and hence how much time that you're not doing something else. If you play video games to excess--a possible hard thing to measure as virtually everyone "wastes" a lot of time on tv, knitting, driving, etc and trying to turn your whole life into one of productivity is its own sort of excess--, then video games can be a vice and your actions vicious in that you play so much time wise. The rest of the discussion about treating video games as virtual worlds and imagining pushing people off train platforms in real life? It's all just stuff in your head and doesn't really matter. To me, more and more, the discussion turns more into the sophistry of treating psychopaths like philosophical zombies [wikipedia.org] . Well, you know, it's all very much a moot point if gamers are philosophical psychopaths; but it's a great way for psychologists to justify writing papers about their fantasies of pushing people off train platforms.

The opposite is also true (4, Interesting)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 2 months ago | (#47092585)

Lots of people care about virtual persons beyond what would be purely rational. Just as someone may cry because of what happens in a novel, someone might get upset for losing a player in his virtual sports team and someone else might not do a certain quest because they'd feel bad about what happens to the virtual NPC.

I've always believed that those who behave as beasts while protected by the anonymity of the internet, or of a game, are actually just showing their true nature.

However, I see it as a sign of civilization to have the worse among us trolling online or being sadist psychopaths in video games, instead of torturing animals, or people.

I believe there will always be evil people, and the best we can do is what we're doing. Giving then a medium to express their rotten nature, that does the least possible amount of harm.

Most psychiatreists don't know any psychopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092587)

"Psychopath" is a *romantic* diagnosis. But it's been so misdefined and redefined and taught by movie archetypes that it's become a meaningless morass For example, the idea from the movies that a psychopath can cleverly plot out lengthy, sophisticated rituals of "SAW" like moral complexity is nonsensical. The people I've known with that diagnosis just don't plot, even if they have clearly high intelligence in terms of memory and awareness.

Psychologists who try do make conclusions or tests are almost inevitably wound up with some archetypal ideal of a "psychopath" that has only accidental connection to any definition of the term by any other psychologist. It's a travesty of science and of linguistics, fostered by authors who like to sell books with exciting titles and by court psychologists who mangle language to get the court to rule in the interests of their client.

Re:Most psychiatreists don't know any psychopaths (2)

sideslash (1865434) | about 2 months ago | (#47092635)

Your fallacy here is similar to those who claim that there's no such thing as IQ just because nature itself doesn't supply a simple linear scale. Psychopathy is complex and multivariate, just like intelligence. But there is usefulness in identifying a "boolean" here -- person A crosses a line and we'll call him a psychopath, person B is not a psychopath. Sure, it's a continuum. Sure, there are multiple variables. But a simplification can still be useful, and those who say otherwise are in denial about what is a pretty obvious phenomenon to an open minded person.

Re:Most psychiatreists don't know any psychopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093155)

There is such a thing as IQ it just doesn't measure intelligence.

Re:Most psychiatreists don't know any psychopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093265)

There is such a thing as IQ it just doesn't measure intelligence.

Yeah, I've found lots of stupid people believe that.

Re:Most psychiatreists don't know any psychopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092989)

Given that most psychiatrists know how to spell 'psychiatrists', you'll excuse us for assuming you haven't got a clue what you're talking about.

Is it possible? (3, Insightful)

nowsharing (2732637) | about 2 months ago | (#47092597)

How is it possible to be a psychopath in a game? This and other research are based on the premise that video games contain real violence. No game has ever contained true violence in this sense, which is why violent video gaming behavior doesn't lead to the harm that real psychopaths cause in society.

The only way to act psychopathic--doing actual harm to another human being with true apathy--in a video game would seem to be through communications between players inside the game, where feelings could be hurt. It would be hard of course to separate psychopathic communicative behavior from other common factors like immaturity, inebriation, gaming cultures, etc. That should probably be the real focus of these kinds of studies. Another interesting study might be to study actual psychopaths, pulled from corporate environments or the like, and seeing if/how they play games differently from non-psychos.

Re:Is it possible? (4, Insightful)

chad_r (79875) | about 2 months ago | (#47092913)

How is it possible to be a psychopath in a game? This and other research are based on the premise that video games contain real violence. No game has ever contained true violence in this sense, which is why violent video gaming behavior doesn't lead to the harm that real psychopaths cause in society.

The only way to act psychopathic--doing actual harm to another human being with true apathy--in a video game would seem to be through communications between players inside the game, where feelings could be hurt. It would be hard of course to separate psychopathic communicative behavior from other common factors like immaturity, inebriation, gaming cultures, etc. That should probably be the real focus of these kinds of studies. Another interesting study might be to study actual psychopaths, pulled from corporate environments or the like, and seeing if/how they play games differently from non-psychos.

This is why murder in games as a measure of sociopathy is a red herring. The real crazies are the griefers, the ones who gain enjoyment, with no other tangible benefit, from knowing they are doing harm to real people in the form of wasted time or belittling. It's hardly limited to gaming. Look at Wikipedia. Sometimes people vandalize because they have a petty axe to grind, but other vandalism is just totally pointless, like replacing entire paragraphs with the word "penis". I would even consider some graffiti, like the Chinese teenager writing "Ding Jinhao was here [wikipedia.org] " at the Luxor Temple, to be sociopathic.

Re:Is it possible? (3, Interesting)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 months ago | (#47092921)

How is it possible to be a psychopath in a game? This and other research are based on the premise that video games contain real violence. No game has ever contained true violence in this sense, which is why violent video gaming behavior doesn't lead to the harm that real psychopaths cause in society.

The only way to act psychopathic--doing actual harm to another human being with true apathy--in a video game would seem to be through communications between players inside the game, where feelings could be hurt. It would be hard of course to separate psychopathic communicative behavior from other common factors like immaturity, inebriation, gaming cultures, etc. That should probably be the real focus of these kinds of studies. Another interesting study might be to study actual psychopaths, pulled from corporate environments or the like, and seeing if/how they play games differently from non-psychos.

Game Theory allows for different attitudes on the part of the players. A psychopathic attitude is basically a me-first/screw-everyone else attitude. When a game (entertainment or mathematical theory) has no real-world consequences, you have freedom to let your inner psychopath go. And everyone has one - it's basically the 2-year old that most of us have left behind.

Re:Is it possible? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 months ago | (#47093123)

Very easy. On the rare occasions that I played multiplayer, I remembered all the time that there is a person behind the virtual character in front of me, so why the hell I would attack him for no reason? Why? It can be a virtual character but it's still a person, why would I do something against him I would not want to do against me?

Now the psychopath does not think so. He takes pleasure in harming others, no matter if the person is real or virtual. And is just easier to do it in a virtual world where the police will not show up to put him in jail.

Re:Is it possible? (1)

smaddox (928261) | about 2 months ago | (#47093725)

It is certainly true that some psychopaths take pleasure in harming others, but it is not true that all psychopaths do. Psychopathy is more an absence of empathy.

Re:Is it possible? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47093785)

I remembered all the time that there is a person behind the virtual character in front of me, so why the hell I would attack him for no reason?

Because he's not worth any XP alive?

Re:Is it possible? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 months ago | (#47094085)

But he's worth more to you ALIVE. Two humans are much more dangerous and capable than one.

Re:Is it possible? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47094319)

He's only worth more to me alive if he knows that *I* am worth more to him alive.

When I was hunting in the Frontiers of Dark Age of Camelot (lo! these many years ago), there were a few people like that. But not many, even on my own side....

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092615)

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths ... Oh, you mean politics.

Re:Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 months ago | (#47093285)

Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths ... Oh, you mean politics.

No. Most politicians go into politics because they're psychopaths, and it allows them to rob and kill people without any recourse.

Ultima Online (2)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 2 months ago | (#47092631)

Has been down that road before it was cool.

How fondly I remember the sheer horror of seeing a player name in red text on the edge of my screen while my miner was full of ore and ingots on his bag. How people with gray names were essentially free loot to be gang banged by the blues. Summon a Daemon in the middle of a though dungeon battle to kill your "allies" so you could rob them blind without incurring the dreaded red status.

That game was so broken and so much fun.

Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092857)

Pretty sure LambdaMOO went down that road before Ultima Online, with the Mr. Bungle affair. Read "A Rape In Cyberspace" or the book-form "My Tiny Life" by Julian Dibbell for more.

Huh (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#47092639)

David Lightman: [typing] Is this a game... or is it real?

Joshua: What's the difference?

Morality is largely due to upbringing (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 months ago | (#47092715)

Look at the behaviour of young children (like 2-3 years old) in a group. They hit each other. They push each other. They steal each other's toys. They pull each other's hair.

Kids are nasty, selfish creatures before they're socialized.

I believe that without proper socialization, human society would rapidly degrade into a "natural" winner-takes-all slugfest of brutality. Cooperation and communication is not "natural" -- it's taught. The same is true in the animal kingdom for the more social species -- they learn the benefits of cooperation and social structure.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47092735)

I believe that without proper socialization, human society would rapidly degrade into a "natural" winner-takes-all slugfest of brutality.

Would??? Look around the world, I'd say we largely have or are in the middle of it.

I've maintained for years 'civilization' is a thin veneer over mankind essentially being barbarians, and that it's getting thinner every year.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092931)

It is as thin as the food supply in the local supermarket. Always has been.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#47093799)

I've maintained for years 'civilization' is a thin veneer over mankind essentially being barbarians, and that it's getting thinner every year.

They were saying the same thing 1000 years ago.

And 2000 years ago....

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47094055)

I'd say the opposite -- civilization is a thin veneer that is getting thicker and thicker*. Things are far, far better than they were in the past -- but yeah, we're starting from an extremely low bar and the veneer isn't all that thick.

* Steven Pinker has a few books working the numbers on this if you want a source... there are lots of others but I'm too lazy to look them up right now. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Pinker

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 months ago | (#47092957)

I think we sort of have two different origins of psychopathy.

Number one, and I think the most common stereotypical one, is taught to be a psychopath. Someone taught to kill and torture from an early age with abuse/neglect/etc. These are the ones most like the ones you see in movies and the ones most likely to end up in prison. Children are very elastic and resilient. You can teach them to be killers, or feral dogs, anything you want.

2) Some number of people seem to be born without shame, or something really like that. They do not feel bad the same way as everyone else when they see others upset with their actions, and as such seem to never outgrow a children's natural psychopathic behaviour. But research is still in it infancy with regard to psychopathy. It is hard to say if their are any irredeemable cases, if every child would grow up moderately normal if raised in a decent family. But some definitely seem to have natural potential for psychopathy, at least.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47093041)

Some number of people seem to be born without shame, or something really like that.

I believe the word you are looking for is generally accepted as 'empathy'.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 months ago | (#47093193)

No, psychopaths tend to be pretty good at empathy. They are just less likely to care about the emotions they detect in others.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093299)

My understanding is the opposite of that. Most psychopaths are inherently narcissistic and do not show any empathy towards others/animals.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093375)

No, psychopaths tend to be pretty good at empathy. They are just less likely to care about the emotions they detect in others.

No, that is pretty much the opposite of empathy.

Empathy implies you internalize some of this awareness, and think "boy, that would make me sad too".

You really really don't know what that word means.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (2)

aevan (903814) | about 2 months ago | (#47093861)

Not following that.

Premise: Do unto others before they do unto you
You acknowledge an action you wouldn't like done to you..but you aren't doing it to you, you're doing it to them, and since they aren't material to effects on you, you don't care. You can be aware a gunshot hurts and still shoot someone. Empathy isn't a barrier to cruelty. I'd imagine sadism would require decent amounts of empathy to actually enjoy it (emotional sadism more so than physical).

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093099)

It is far easier to teach a human child or a young dog to behave than it is to teach a wild fox or other animal to behave. Some kids require almost no behavior correction at all. It is natural that some species have evolved to exist in cooperative groups. Humans are in that category, though Ants and a few other species of insect might have us beat.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093149)

Not true for psychopaths: no amount of education or socialization can change them. This is also true for psychopaths in prison, where the non-psychopath population can actually change their ways if integrated in a socializing program (for example, teaching guide dogs works very well), whereas psychopaths only mimic/pretend, but are not changed, and once released, they commit violent crimes again.

Re:Morality is largely due to upbringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093205)

The same is true in the animal kingdom for the more social species -- they learn the benefits of cooperation and social structure.

I doubt you have evidence of this as it appears that some species are inherently more social than others which wouldn't be the case if they where just learning.

Assumptions, assumptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092719)

Doesn't this just assume that people (read psychopaths) don't do things because there is only a disincentive to do it? How is this different than claiming that morality has to come from an external agency? Perhaps psychopaths don't do things because they simply do not want to do them. Occasionally this lack of interest sticks tightly to societal norms. Perhaps more than occasionally because generally fulfilling activities aren't likely to ever be declared amoral, and when/where they are you'll likely find more psychopathic behavior.

What I find most disturbing about this recent obsession on behavior trends is that it ignores the fact that our society has been evolving in its structures since before humanity was a species. Psychopaths have been with us the entire time, our social structures adapted to their presence before we even had the idea to categorize their behavior as 'odd,' so whatever 'normal' we define already likely has a lot of psychopathic ideas integrated into it.

It's a Video Game, not Life. (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 2 months ago | (#47092763)

The threat of repercussions â" say, for example, prison â" might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.

Or, it doesn't reveal jack squat because the people know they are playing a video game and thus behave a lot differently than they would if this was real life.

These Games Are *Different* (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092765)

If you are a normal person, the first time you play Rust will go like this: you collect a few resources and craft better and better weapons. If you see someone, you say "hi" to them and you guys become friends. You build yourself a little house next to the road & you help people who spawned later than you by giving them some stuff. Those new people build a house near yours and also become your friends.

The last game of Rust you play will go like this: you collect enough resources to build a gun and a sleeping bag. You hide your sleeping bag in the middle of the mountains at night. You run around completely naked with a hidden pistol and shoot the first person you see in the back of the head while they are gathering wood. You take all their stuff & possibly take over their house. Any person you see you shoot to kill, especially if they haven't seen you first. You spend your entire existence in the game making sure everyone who is a potential threat is dead. There are no friends or neighbors, only potential thieves and killers.

The game forces you to become a monster even if you don't want to. And the insidious thing is that it doesn't actually *force* you to be a monster, but it makes you realize that is the best rational choice given the gameplay mechanics. I hated the game for what it made me do to other people so I quit. There are really only two types of people in any given Rust game: suckers and psychopaths. The suckers turn into psychopaths or quit. I'm so glad I stopped playing that toxic game.

Re:These Games Are *Different* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092827)

Will I play Go...

Morality _is_ relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092855)

Most things in us have evolved for survival. One of those things is a plastic mind that can adapt to a changing environment. As such, we can modify our sense of what is moral or to the needs of the moment. This is to say that being a psychopath or just a sane person is as much a function of how "well" our brains work as of our environment. In a videogame about rage and destruction the rational thing is to kill and destroy, this is the objective of the game and the way to stay alive in it.

Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'

Neither. One plays by the rules of the environment in which one's in.

thanks, asshole! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092867)

now I'm going to push a person in front of a train. Why did you have to give me that idea?!?!?!

John Wooden Had It Right (3, Insightful)

Toad-san (64810) | about 2 months ago | (#47092937)

"The screen flickered back on. I was reborn, standing naked in an empty field, holding only a rock. Not far away I saw a man gathering wood, his back to me. I crept toward him through the grass. He didn’t hear me slinking closer.

I thought of the words of John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, who once said that the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

I raised my rock above my head."

It's not only psychopaths who are dicks online (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47092949)

The tendency for people to act sadistically is not just from those who derive pleasure from it.
In a culture where it's common (like one of these videogames, some forums, or in online chat) to treat people like shit from behind your pseudonymity, the behavior becomes normalized to where you are socially penalized for not taking advantage of others when the opportunity arises, or rewarded when you do.
It's a big jump to say everyone who tries to "fit in" in this way is a psychopath or sadist.

I LOVE KILLING AND MURDERING IN VIDEO GAMES (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 months ago | (#47092959)

I mean, nothing beats violently wasting on the digital avatars of my fellow players AND MAKING THEM DIE VIOLENTLY in order to relieve some stress after a frustrating day.

Healthy release or psychopathic tendencies? The media driven Psychoanalytic Jury is still out, but our sources say that they are leaning to full blown psychosis, more at 11.

Re:I LOVE KILLING AND MURDERING IN VIDEO GAMES (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 months ago | (#47093329)

I guess it's kind of a fine line. Take Skyrim for example, I was actually kinda repulsed by some of the quests, especially the Daedric ones (Boethia for example). And I don't want to kill Paarthurnax, it feels wrong, he's a good guy. Fuck Delphine and Esbern.
With the Dragonborn addon, I couldn't even bring myself to kill an innocent Netch and break up a Netch family just for the stupid jelly.

OTOH, I don't seem to have any problem killing bandits left and right, because they're murderers. I also quickly learned that when they're about to die and say "I submit, don't hurt me" that you can't believe them. I stopped the first few times to let them live and those liars just attacked me again. Pffttt.

Re:I LOVE KILLING AND MURDERING IN VIDEO GAMES (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 months ago | (#47094105)

This. You can play a game that allows you to be violent/sadist, but it does not mean you need to be violent/sadist. I also refused quests in the game for not agreeing with them, and eliminated several patrols of the high elves because I did not accept them oppressing the nords.

On the plus side it'll prepare you (2)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 2 months ago | (#47092985)

If you ever go into academia and become a professor. (Steal from your grad students then knife'em in the back if they say boo, blow off your undergrad students since let's be honest you're reputation is your research, etc. Why yes, I am cynical.)

You're asking the wrong question. (3, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | about 2 months ago | (#47093267)

'Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'

This isn't the larger concern right now.

The larger concern is the fact that empathy and human emotion still exist on the actual battlefield today, and we are looking to remove that from warfare as we look into the future of automation. Where we have a soldier making those face-to-face decisions to pull or NOT pull a trigger today will be replaced by a robot wired to a PS4 controller thousands of miles away, being driven by a "soldier" who may not even know they are engaged in actual warfare as they "play" the "game".

These things are coming. And ironically as you call this future inhuman and disastrous for mankind, it is the tears of crying mothers that help justify this, because these "solutions" will be sold as the answer to bringing our boys back home every time.

Re:You're asking the wrong question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093853)

>The larger concern is the fact that empathy and human emotion still exist on the actual battlefield today, and we are looking to remove that from warfare as we look into the future of automation.

Because seeing see your enemy face to face in the pre-firearms era stopped any of the (for their time) large scale wars or the atrocities committed during them? LOL, literally.

Games are not reality (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 months ago | (#47093473)

This has been proven by psychologists repeatedly. Just because someone does something in fantasy doesn't mean they would do it in reality or even see it the same way as they would in reality.

We understand it is pretend. When you kill someone in a game there is no moral feeling of guilt because they're not people. Its as real as a 6 year old playing war with plastic soldiers and then randomly knocking a few of them down as dead.

It has no impact on our psychology. Its play.

Any so called psychologist that doesn't grasp that is a hack.

different circumstances (1, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 2 months ago | (#47093553)

Then again, the behavior we call psychopathy in our polite safe benign situation might be survival-optimal choices when actually confronted with a situation where the results aren't academic, but materially affect our chances of living through today.

I'm not entirely sure that the mural yardstick we use in measuring ourselves is worth anything more than firewood when "shit gets real". As a soldier friend if mine explained, that was one if the challenges in integrating back to civilian life, it's an entirely different context.

Rust, quite the opposite actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47093961)

When i last played rust, i joined a sort of "gated community" We all helped each other out and lived in the same general area. We would also protect our community by ganging up and forcing anyone who wasn't one of us off our "lawn". It worked quite well actually, aside from the occasional bandit raid.

Society should cater.... (1)

Hategrin (3579025) | about 2 months ago | (#47094249)

Society should serve law-abiding citizens and mentally fit people. What people like the author here want, is to design a society that caters to psychopaths and the mentally ill. All you end up with is more psychopaths and mentally ill people, since society is designed for them (and not healthy-fit people) they will thrive and their population will grow.
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