State of Nature in Video Games

I have been in love with playing video games since I was very young. I never question myself the reason why I love to play video games that much. Maybe because the game are exciting to me and I always like the feeling of winning. However, after reading “The Leviathan” by Hobbes, I started to realize that video games actually reflect Hobbes’s theory of State of Nature in terms of how a society should run. Playing video games is like living in a fast pace virtual society. Recently, I am playing a multiplayer online battle arena game called League of Legends. The objective of the game is basically to push down opposing team’s series of towers and eventually their base, which is called the “nexus’ in the game. To learn more about this game, visit “League of Legends”.

In “The Leviathan”, Hobbes presented his theory explaining the state of nature in a few elements. He proposed that a society will lose their order if there is not a governing body or a sovereign for the society. In the game of League of Legends, it perfectly reflects this element in the gameplay as having a leader in the team is vital for the team to success and to beat their opponents. We call the leader the “shot-caller” because he will give out orders to other players in order to cooperate and maximize their chances to win. When players do not listen to their leaders and have their own decisions and rules, the team would most likely to fall apart and get easily defeated. As proposed by Hobbes, the lives of the players who act on their own will be “solitary, nasty, brutish and short” as they will be eliminated by enemies who work together and abide to a same set of rules.

Photo from Google showing that teamwork is always better than working alone.

The reason for having a leader in this game is to set rules for the 4 remaining players to tell them what to do and where they should go in the map. There are 3 routes in the game map and a jungle between the routes. There are resources on each route as well as in the jungle. Leaders would avoid having multiple players to go to the same route because those players would be fighting for the same set of resources. According to Hobbes, selfishness and the absence of order will create conflicts and violence. Therefore, players on the same team would fight for the same resource and would argue with each other in the game chat.  As some players only care about their own “strength” in their character rather than the overall strength of the team, they will steal their teammate’s resources for their own benefits. Since the resources on the map are scare, individuals will attempt to exploit others. The leader of the team will try his best to avoid these kinds of situations- where “every man is against every man”.

Players in the game do not just fear in having bad teammates, but they also fear of their enemies because they do not know when the enemies will attack. This situation once again reflects Hobbes’ theory saying that “all people live in fear”.  Fear basically determines what they do in the game. Because of fear, the players would not walk too close to the enemies’ side; Because of fear, they may not attack the enemy because they do not know how strong their enemies are.  According to Hobbes, as people are constantly living in fear, the only way to solve the problem is to seek peace between them. However, since it is a video game and the game will go on until one side is defeated, there will not be peace among all the players. This ultimately shows that there will never be peace if there are 2 opposing forces who aim to exploit each other.

Therefore, Hobbes proposed that absolute monarchy is the best form of government because it can guarantee peace. In an absolute monarchy government, there will be one and only power which controls the society and it avoids the possibility of having conflicts in different ideologies and philosophies of the people. Hobbes argues that when the people obey the rules from the only power, peace will be established.

Hobbes would love this image from Google. “Monarchy will bring Peace”