Recently, a video was posted by RE:Roll as a discussion to attempt to understand the nature of players in survival game such as Day Z and RUST and why the tendency to evolve towards a kill on sight mentality vs a peaceful co-existence community was so prevalent. He argues in his conclusion that there is a tendency to fall into the cycle of violence since there are no real consequences for killing people or being killed. He also notes that although he is a peaceful person in real life, he found himself becoming more and more apathetic through out the course of his study in regards to preserving life, giving out orders at the end of interviews to kill, even people who were genuinely compliant to his demands. I would have to argue that yes although there is a cycle which could potentially spiral people down into the stygian abyss of sociopathic violence, people aren't necessarily forced into it but rather it still remains a choice. I myself have played for quite sometime and through out the entirety of my game play, I have killed at total of 2 people and this was during a raid on our base. This is also over the course of 2 months with over 10 bases in total on different servers. My argument is that although we don't want to kill people we certainly want revenge and revenge is the key driving force.
Revenge is generally directed towards those who killed you, however, if you have died enough times in the game that target of vengeance becomes unclear and nebulous. Suddenly everyone is a target for vengeance to make up for the countless unnamed people how have killed you. There is a sense of martyrdom in it, or at least a false sense of one which leads people to believe that they are good people and that killing people at the slightest sense of danger is an act of heroism in that you are protecting the community at large by hindering the abilities of all people who pose a threat. People develop a feeling that they are the only voice of reason and thus should be judge, jury and executioner for the greater good.
This really is in a sense as Re:Roll pointed out a form of the Stanford Prison Experiment, where people given power they normally would not have, will tend to abuse that power, especially if there are no consequences. Perhaps it could be solved if there were stricter, more realistic consequences such as death meaning you were locked out for a longer period of time or in extreme cases permanently removed from the server. This however, would probably hinder the publishers need to have have a large player base to keep the gaming rolling and profitable. However, if you've died enough, you probably wouldn't mind such harsh consequences. However, both Rust and Day-Z are still in alpha so we still don't know what to expect in the final release so this could very well become the decided consequence if murder becomes so rampant that no one can live long enough to enjoy the game. Perhaps there needs to be incentives created not to kill people which so far doesn't exist, the rewards for killing people so far are much higher than not killing people, even the innocent.
So why haven't I killed countless people? Well, when I start off, I always play with a fairly large group, a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 7. This is generally rare for survival games but if this were real life, it would not be unexpected for me to find myself bringing together a large group and setting up goals and expectations for survival. However, although I do have friends, they are not always with me and I often find myself alone in the wilderness at least 80% of the time, generally while I'm farming for loot or resources. When confronted with death, my instinct to survive is much higher than my instinct to kill because, I have people depending on me. What I probably have found in my foraging is something that the community as a whole needs so creating enemies, is not something I'd want to do. In fact I try very hard to not lead them back to our base, or to let them even know my name. I believe that with out the sense of community as guidance solo players tend to be troll players, and this goes back to the revenge aspect. Sure some people start off as trolls but I believe that a majority of people genuinely wanted to be friendly in the beginning but are now driven by revenge once they have been senselessly murdered without provocation or justification enough times.
If you can recount the article posted previously of our encounter on the Avalon server with a fellow named Rek the Fallen, you'll remember that we tried on many attempt to be peaceful but some people have a need to eliminate threats even if they have never given them a reason to feel threatened. The mere sense that a unknown group has become too powerful gives people incentive to take them down before they get any bigger, for their own good and the good of the great community seems to be the driving force for most attacks, after all, people always feel they know better than anyone else.
Killer by Association
If you have a community, there is always the high possibility that you have a sociopath in your group and no matter how much you try to be peaceful, there is always someone on your team who is looking for trouble and inevitably brings trouble to your doorstep. The question is why don't you do something about it? Well, because ironic as it is the peaceful person needs the violent person because in a world of persistent violence, you need someone who can protect you. As much as we disliked Merle Dixon from the Walking Dead, we can't deny that he is a survivor and if you were in any confrontation, you would rather be on his side then against him. We become apathetic to his action because firstly we can't really stop him, and secondly we in a sense live in fear of him. It become a sort of Stockholm syndrome that affects the group where everything he says which normally would be counter intuitive to our real world opinion suddenly makes sense in this new world.