MIT has set up an experiment to understand social interactions online through a game that allows the players to control a real-life person
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Video games over the last two decades have been racing to incorporate as much realism into them as possible as a way of improving their impressiveness. Improved graphics was an obvious area of development, but we eventually started seeing more realistic principles of physics making their way into games, all the way to virtual reality. Now, engineers at MIT have created an online game that will take the real-life experience to the next level, by giving players control over a real person. The game is aptly titled BeeMee.
Launching a crowdsourced online social experiment on Halloween, the game will allow players to choose their own adventure and control the movements of an actor in real-time. The premise of the game is that an evil Artificial Intelligence has been unleashed unto the world and your goal is to defeat it. Players will have to vote on an action and the most popular option will be the one that the actor acts upon. Think of it as a giant peer-pressure exercise, but in a video game. The goal of the experiment is for the MITians to "redefine the way in which we understand social interactions online and in real life; pushing crowdsourcing and collective intelligence to the extreme to see where it breaks down."
Historically, we have seen that when people are put in a position of power over others, the outcome isn’t always a very pleasant one. The infamous Stanford Prison Experiment which saw a group of participants be the prison guards and another be the prisoners, had to be terminated prematurely because of the excessive abuse meted out by the prison guards. This study was grounds for the formation of an Ethics board for all human experimentation in the field of psychology. We have also seen Hollywood take the concept of control and turn it into a film. The movie Gamer starring Gerard Butler was based on the premise that convicts were implanted with a chip that allowed gamers to control them in a first-person shooter game. Society was apparently okay with the gross violation of human rights where it was okay to treat prisoners on death row as part of a video game for global entertainment.
MIT’s experiment, however, is not as bleak as the above two examples. For starters, there is only one actor who will be under control, and even then, he will not be under the control of one player. He will only act upon the most popular choice made by whatever number of players decide to join the game. If you’d like to be a part of the big experiment, or just watch the live stream of the game when it goes live on October 31, just head over to Beemee.online.
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