Lately I’ve been able to follow past hobbies like playing retro video-games and watching new anime (japanese animation series). Specifically talking about the latter, anime has always been part of me since I first watched the Toonami segment on Cartoon Network (while sadly, it’s gone for years now in latin america). On the other hand, after I got to know manga (japanese comic-books) and realize most anime was based on it, I left anime aside to only read manga.
Some days ago I started watching an old anime series and talked about it to a friend of mine who’s always been an addict to anime. He recommended me two relatively new series: Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) and Sword Art Online. As the second one was about online gaming, I felt more attracted to it. I never thought it would led me to question some points about human nature.
Sword Art Online, besides the fact that it’s an adaptation of a light novels series by Reki Kawahara, and all irrelevant information, has a quite interesting premise: What if a great number of players were locked inside a videogame, in which you may die (for real, being a death in the game equal to a death in real life), so that the only way out is for someone to beat the game?
There were originally 10.000 gamers who first bought the new Sword Art Online game and logged in. This is a MMORPG, so it’s a game where players around the globe interact with each other over the internet, while all playing in the same big world. after a 6 hour period they all realized and then were told that they can’t log out, that over 200 players were disconnected in real life and died in the process and that they only way out was to beat the game by reaching the 100th floor in a massive world and beating the boss there (I hope you can follow me by knowing a little about videogames, if not, feel free to ask me about it on the comments).
Well, shortening the story, you must know in each floor there is a city in which players are same from other players and monsters (outside they’re not), that after at least one reached a floor, the rest can go there, yet, the level of monsters increases with each floor, as so the level required by a player to survive outside.
With that being so, and be careful as spoiler is ahead of you, after 2 years in the game, 4000 players have died and 6000 are still surviving with a group being responsible of beating the bosses in each floor to continue climbing to the last one. HEre is the question: Why is there just a relatively small group actually trying to reach the 100th floor?
The story explains it. Multiple groups of thieves were created just to mess up with other players, trying to survive by themselves, at others’ expenses. Small assassins groups that kill other players also existed, so that you could never really trust another player outside the cities. So besides these “evil” groups, the “good” groups were the ones “on the front line” (the higher floor reached) that were beating monsters to reach the 100th floor, and a different group, the players who, even inside the cities most of their time, train their skills different from battling, like manufacture and other areas, to help other players on the front lines have greater attack and defenses once in the battlefield.
There were other players, who scared, or for any other reason, just retired to live somewhere far from monsters, just waiting to live peacefully. Some (many) had even resigned to look for a way out.
In a nutshell
While a few were risking their lives to save themselves and rest (mostly, the rest, as to “save” their lives they just had to stay in cities), other were not. At some point, just a very small group was actually helping to reach the 100th floor, while the other maybe 90% were not. Why? Because they were afraid to die? Because they wanted to stay? Because they were not good enough players to actually be helpful on the front lines? Because…?
Imagine it’s real, all the game thing. The group would act that way? How do you think a 10.000 people group was to act to confront the situation? If you were there, what would you do? Remember it’s now not just a game, but a survival “experiment”. Would you fight? Or would you stay there, hoping no one “on the other side” tries to disconnect you?
Watch the series if you like, and then tell me about it. (you can watch it on Crunchyroll.com legally for free)