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Ark Survival Evolved – A Glimpse into the Mindset




Ark - Nerd Game

Ark Survival Evolved is an action-adventure survival game, which takes place on various fictional islands. These islands are packed with prehistoric dinosaurs and animals. The purpose of the game is to find resources, craft items, tame dinosaurs, build bases and form tribes.

The game itself requires a lot of farming, crafting, building, hunting, gathering as well as a huge chunk of time to make any substantial progress.  It is a survival game, which means you need to be equipped to deal with harsh weather conditions and player hostility. Every character requires food, water and warmth to survive. This turns the game of Ark into an ongoing battle. Even the wild animals can attack you or damage your structures. To top it all off, your body remains in the game when you log out. This means you are always prone to having your items robbed or your character killed. The in and out game vulnerability forces you to build defences and form alliances.

The game features a level based stat system. With each level, you are awarded a skill point to place onto one of the following stats-

  • Health
  • Stamina
  • Oxygen
  • Food
  • Water
  • Weight
  • Melee Damage
  • Movement Speed
  • Fortitude
  • Crafting

When a player joins Ark, they are bound to a selected server and map. The concept of the game sounds like it could be fun, however, in reality, it is a breeding ground for power trip nerds. It is a place where dorky snotty kids can pretend they hold real relevance. My time on Ark made me realise that the game has a certain mentality attached to it. Everybody wants to be a part of the biggest and toughest tribe and will stop at nothing to get there. It is a place where the weaker members of our society can virtually be the strongest. A place where the bullied can become the bullies.

Ark: The game that never sleeps

Ark is a game that never sleeps. When you log out, your character falls unconscious and therefore is still vulnerable to in-game threats. For this reason, it is important to hide away in structures. Structures can be made from a variety of resources, ranging from thatch up to metal. The tougher the resource, the harder it is for people to break into. Weak structures like thatch buildings can be broken into using bare fists whilst metal structures require explosives. Structures can be used to keep your character safe from outside threats when logged out. They can also be used to store resources and act as a base for your tribe.

It can take hours, if not days of gameplay to build a solid defence and even then you are not safe. Nothing in the game is impenetrable.  You can only make it harder for outsiders to break in. Taming dinosaurs in Ark is another task that can take a long time to complete. Most often, taming dinosaurs requires the player to knock out the dinosaur and then feed it its preferred food. This process can take hours and even then, all it takes is another player to come along and kill your dinosaur in mid-tame. The game is unforgiving and players do well to remind you of this. Tamed dinosaurs can be trained to defend your base when you are not around. Other players will often kill your tames and destroy your base, even when there is no real personal gain aside from trolling you.

The Alpha Nerds of Ark

Every Ark server has it’s own Alpha tribe. The alpha tribes will generally be miles ahead of anyone else in the game. These “alpha” players tend to be the same type of socially awkward kids who you might have bumped into on the bus one time. The type that struggles to make eye contact and rarely voices opinions. They are the type who have, unfortunately, been subjected to bullying and find it hard to fit in with society. I believe this is what drives these types of people to crave power online. They see Ark as a second chance in life. In this virtual world, they can be who they want. They have been conditioned to believe the most powerful person is the most feared. They can demand respect in the security of their own armchair and have zero repercussions.

Alpha tribes on Ark will have a multitude of bases, tames, members, items and are often feared by other players. From my experience, there are three types of alphas in Ark.

The Governor

The Governor is the first type of Alpha personality you can find on Ark. These are people who mean well but allow the power to get to their heads. They will claim they are the protectors of the server and are there to keep the peace. They will give items away to weak players, in an almost humanitarian fashion. The governor is driven by ego and would never allow anyone to be equal. They thrive off being the tribe everyone looks up to. The governor will often wipe out tribes who they claim pose a threat to others. The reality is, the governor does not want to share a slice of the pie. It is wise to remember that nobody gets to the top of the food chain in Ark without screwing people over in the process.

The Trojan

The Trojan is the second type of Alpha personality. They are masters of manipulation and befriend people for personal gain. The Trojan uses people to do their dirty work by selling false hope and security. This alpha personality type will reap the rewards from the labour of others. The Trojan will betray you as soon as you no longer have a use. They will only use you to build their dreams and goals, much like a corporate employer would.

The Raider

The raider is the final alpha personality type and is often the most damaged. The raider is the “give me your lunch money” guy of the server. These types will hop from place to place causing as much destruction as possible. They get a sense of fulfilment from trolling people but often do not know why.  They will make people beg for their virtual lives before slaughtering them and dumping, thus destroying, their belongings.

To someone who has not played Ark, these personality types may seem like sweeping generalisations. Maybe they are, maybe they are not. From my experience, I believe that all alpha tribes fall under one of these categories. I feel like in order to become an alpha player, you need dedication, time and a desire for power. This is why the quiet kids that stay at home can thrive on Ark. They gain social status with nothing more than a console and an internet connection. The problem is, this overwhelming power is like giving Golem the ring for his birthday. It can warp the mindset of a person and make them project the negativity that they have been subjected to.

The Tribal Mentality

You cannot be a success in the game without a tribe. Your tribe members are there to fight your corner, however, it is wise to sleep with one eye open. The game itself is overrun by trolls. It only takes minutes to undo months of someone else’s hard work. Gaining satisfaction from the suffering of others is an assertion of power. This is most likely the reason as to why humans have never been without war. I believe there is a lot we can learn about human behaviour from something as simple as Ark. Maybe we are all hardwired to enjoy conflict?

The Art of Trolling

The more you delve into the world of Ark, the more you find yourself conforming to the mentalities attached to the game. I suffered losses in the game, which led me to be bitter towards other players. The same bitterness that many of the Ark players face in real life. I become less interested in building my own defences and more interested in wrecking other players defences.

During my time at Ark, I came across a variety of people. One alpha tribe member spent his time jumping from server to server and destroying bases. I asked him why he did it, in which he told me that it helps him release steam from the pressures of a busy 9 to 5 job. Another person I came across was a German man who took the game a little too seriously. He built a base and even formed a war room with a map to mark out the hostile land. This man had spent over 100 real-time days in front of the screen but was eventually betrayed and wiped out by an ex-tribe member.

I also came across trolls who would do nothing in-game aside from knocking players unconscious and putting them in cages. These trolls would then feed the trapped player narcotics to keep them unconscious. This would go on for prolonged periods of time and would render the player paralysed with limited vision. When I come across these particular trolls on Ark, they were abusive and had a bully like nature. When I looked them up in real life, I see a very different story. These were kids who had few friends and ironically supported anti-bullying causes.

Inside Ark, I have witnessed bullying, racism, discrimination and sexism. The most severe cases came from the alpha tribes. I found that many of these alphas are people that find it hard to fit in with real-life society. The power of holding an alpha status had brought out the worst in these players. Upon investigating, I found that these players were innocent in real life. They were the type who supported good causes and showed a caring nature.

This made me wonder, was the Ark community damaged? Or does Ark damage the community? What was it about Ark that made these kids flip the switch? Should we place blame on internal struggles rather than the game itself?  Is true dominance only achieved through hate? Whether it be virtually on Ark, locking people in cages and destroying bases, or in real life, plaguing the planet with war.

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