Globally, if an easily accessible videogame allowed a gamer to do anything in a realistic setting,(from strategically and realistically solving world hunger to planning a multi-billion dollar sex trafficking system, or planning a genocide (in First person)).
Assuming that this is a realistic simulation:
What's my motivation to do anything good?
If I want to do good, I can do it in real life and actually do good. Sure, doing good likely takes resources, but I strongly suspect that saving those resources doesn't weigh up against the knowledge that you're investing effort in effectively achieving nothing.
If I have a desire to do bad however (that is, things that are not allowed), then I have all reason to do this in a game, since my senses will be tricked into thinking that I'm actually doing bad and my brain will reward me just the same without those pesky cops or my annoying conscience coming after me.
No , the bad will outweigh the good.
We, as humans do not always hate sins or crimes or illegal activities. The reason that we do not do them is law, fear and pressure of society. Imagine if you were told that you can do anything for one day and you wont be charged for it, you would do more bad than good. You would of course rob a bank, drive insanely fast, break things but you wont be that much tempted to help a beggar, teach kids or participate in any socially ethical activity.
Same is the deal with video games. We already have multiple (many many) video games that allow us to commit illegal activities like theft, killing, murder, racing, drifting and never for once do we hesitate from doing these activities. So, if we are provided with a game that allows us to do anything, I believe more people would do only immoral and bad things and even those who will try to do good things will also try the bad ones at some point.
Apart from that, your question demands the precautions while in your context your question is different. Can you re-write that
If it's a MMORPG, the problem with being able to do anything means one person's fun is quite likely another person's terrible experience.
Since its more likely that someone doing bad deeds will negatively impact more "positive" players, the positive players are more likely to leave.
If nothing is addressed, this means you end up with a community of mostly negative players.
This is why teamwork is rewarded better, and many forms of griefing prevented, in most, but not all, MMORPGs.
Alternatively, your question seems to suggest that this is a single-player game that is simulated so accurately that you could practice to pull off whatever you wanted in the simulation and then apply that strategy to the real world.
This means corporations could see how branding and certain items would do before even creating them - or see how to defeat their opponents.
This means military operations could be practiced to be pulled off near perfectly - or practiced to be defended near perfectly
This means a general civilian could practice for a job interview and go with the best result - and the interviewer can practice to determine the best candidate.
I personally think more "good" than "bad" would be achieved with this, but it would still be a never-ending battle. Similar to how virus and anti-virus creators will always be trying to defeat the opposition. Thankfully, the "good" side is (hopefully) better funded.
That scenario also suggests that whoever provides data into this game has perfect data about every place and every person in the world. Also, its able to determine what every individual choice will be as well as determine what would happen for random elements such as flipping a coin. That seems pretty impossible to me, it's pretty much like being able to tell the future.
The question is quite interesting. A few years ago i was at a convention where Peter Molineux was one of the speakers. He was asked if it was not the case that in his games (like Black&White for example) most players chose the bad side. He said (i have no quote for that, sorry) that in fact and surprisingly for him, significantly more players chose the good side. I think that one point here is that we have (mostly) been brought up to distinguish good from bad, so you might say we have been conditionned to prefer the good side. Of course, fear of punishment would be a reason not to do bad, but doing good is also rewarding in it's own way. Plus, in a game environment, people might like the challenge of not choosing the easy way. @Muxammil Bashir suggests most people would do bad things if they thought they would get away with it. I do not agree, because we all have our own conscious that will punish us. Admittedly some more so and some less, but: the original post suggests a "realistic setting", so i guess it would be acceptable to assume that this will include other people (be those NPCs or players), and those do threaten a bad character with punishment. Even more so in a game, because if you for example think of any setup like nazi germany, the good-doers were massively threatened, which slowed them down considerably. In a game environment one might much more easily accept the risk of death when confronting the bad. @overactor suggests that if i wanted to do good i could as well do it in real life. The resources mentionned might actually hinder that. Plus, a game environment would allow for experimenting: If i think my ideas will do good but see a risk that it might turn out bad, i could always try them in such a game setup without actually harming real people. That said: The experience of Peter Molineux plus my own wishful thinking makes me suggest that in fact the good might outweigh the bad in such a setting.
I would say that the good will outweigh the bad. It has been seen in a bunch of open-ended games (at least those which collect such data) that people tend to stick to good. There are a few simple reason for that, actually:
- Being bad is way to easy (in video games, but possibly IRL too).
Conversion is one sided
- If you play good and you slip and make a bad deed, your behavior is now "questionable". If you play bad and you accidentally do good, you are still (mostly) bad.
- It's easy to convert from good to bad, but it's hard to get redemption if you want to go the other way around.
If a game is good you will form a bond with "yourself". Let's be honest here, people can and do get emotionally attached to their avatar. Your avatar (especially in first-person games) is you. Naturally you will be good.
All and all, gray will dominate - stealing, killing bad people and all that, but coldblooded murder and similar will be no more frequent than IRL.