Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Psychology of Survivor

Last week, the latest installment of the show Survivor began its 29th season shot in Nicaragua. This season's theme is Blood versus Water which matches up loved ones to compete for the one million grand prize. My fascination with the show stems back to my high school days where I was introduced to the book, The Lord of the Flies (LOTF) by William Golding. Golding's book mesmerized me then and still does today, which explains why I continue to be fascinated by Survivor, a show based on my all-time favorite book LOTF.

From my recent graduate studies, I was lucky to have studied psychologist Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for humans and animals. Maslow suggested all humans are motivated to satisfy their basic needs of food, shelter, excretion, homeostasis, breathing, water, sex, and sleep. After these lower level needs are satisfied, Maslow posit that other levels are then sought after by humans. The other levels are safety, social, esteem, and then finally self-actualization. Coincidentally, the players in Survivor attempt to satisfy these same needs suggested by Maslow's model throughout the show.

In an effort to enjoy watching this season while applying Maslow's psychological work, I developed a pilot fantasy scoring game. Somewhat similar to scoring in fantasy football, game players draft castaways on their teams for earning points during the season. The fantasy game player or tribal owner who accumulates the most points at the end of the season wins the game. My goal is to develop the fantasy game in HTML5 for eventually using as an educational tool in the classroom. To start out, the following is an alpha version of the scoring breakdown for the physiology level:

Physiology Points: Breathing, Food, Water, Sex, Sleep, Homeostasis, Excretion

  • +1 Player attempts to start fire.
  • +1 Player starts fire.
  • -1 Player puts out fire.
  • +1 Player looks for water.
  • +1 Player boils water.
  • +1 Player collects water.
  • -1 Player dumps out water of another.
  • +1 Player drinks water.
  • +1 Player eats food.
  • -1 Player wastes food.
  • -1 Player hides food from another.
  • -1 Player throws away food.
  • +1 Player fishes for food.
  • +1 Player gathers fruits.
  • +1 Player gathers wood.
  • +1 Player hunts for food.
  • +1 Player builds shelter.
  • -1 Player destroys shelter.
  • -1 Player burns down shelter.
  • +1 Player sleeps.
  • -1 Player is sleep deprived.
  • -1 Player is dehydrated.
  • +1 Player excretes.
  • -1 Player cannot excrete.
  • -1 Player loses tool.
  • -1 Player breaks tool.
  • As the show continues from week to week, I plan to post updates on the progress of the game.