I was reading an article in the New Statesman about how horribly players behave to each other in the sandbox game DayZ. And that got me wondering whether bad behavior is inherent to all sandbox games, or whether certain game design elements push it.
History shows that the default human behavior in face of a threat (like a zombie apocalypse) is to cooperate and work together against that threat. And that can happen in a MMORPG too, for example players regularly worked together against the harsh game environment of the original Everquest. But many sandbox games are famous for their especially sadistic and cruel player base. Which isn't exactly helping in making sandbox games more popular.
What do these people think when they do such evil things in a game. Is it them just playing at evil, or do they have evil streaks in their character for which they have no other outlet? Or are they just bored and try out every single one of the options the game gives them, without thinking that their victim is another human being, a player behind that avatar they are torturing? Because if it was just that, then maybe such games should simply be programmed with more options for positive, collaborative behavior, and less options for cruelty.
What do you think?