So, once there was a war between the titans and the gods. In the end, the gods' leader, Anon, found a way to permanently remove the titans from the world, but the victory extracted a terrible price.

Titans and gods were fundamentally the same creatures, and the source of their power was also the same. Anon created a bunker that would use its inhabitants to connect to this power source and demonetize it.

As long as it was demonetized, both the gods and the titans would be weakened to the point where going into the mortal realms was not exactly possible. However, for the demonetization to keep the source in check, every god had to stay in the bunker.

The only way for them to interact with the mortal world is through the VR headsets that are connected to their massively weakened avatars there. Note though: a god can only spend two days of the week there.

Even for immortal beings, this confinement is a very long time. Gods' psychology isn't different from humans', so I figured I should find an explanation why there's no chaos or societal breakdown in the bunker, even after hundreds of years.

I thought LARPing would be a good way, and in this situation, LARPing Hitler's last days on this mudball of a planet is the only reasonable choice.

They are roleplaying exaggerated and kid-friendly (except for the alcoholism, map fetish, and strong language) versions of the real people, usually with various quirks (Goebbels is constanly being compared to Skeletor, for instance).

My question is, is this actually a viable strategy to keep people sane in a situation like this (being stuck in a small place with little to no contact with the outside world)? If there are studies about this (like some kind of a Stanford prison experiment), I'd like to know about those as well.

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    $\begingroup$ Upvoted for originality, lol. $\endgroup$ Nov 22 '19 at 22:46

NASA (among others) have been/are active in studying isolation on human beings. We desperately need this data if we are to make a trip to Mars, as the journey alone will take as long as a normal tenure in the ISS. Then there's the problem of a small team being stuck on the planet for years, living in cramped quarters and breathing recycled air. This is very similar to what you're looking at with these deities.

Here are several articles on the subject of isolation with regards to space travel.

Long story short, your deities will need complementary (read: not necessarily complimentary) personalities to keep from killing each other after a few years. The studies found that long periods of isolation leads to stress, depression, messed up sleep cycles, and conflict. From the fourth link:

...the two crew members who had the highest rates of stress and exhaustion were involved in 85 percent of the perceived conflicts...

Basically even one bad apple can spoil the bunch.

So how do you combat this? Keep everyone busy. By far the biggest problem is being idle with your thoughts in an isolated environment. Your deities need to be otherwise occupied.

Does LARPing Hitler's last days work? Sure, why not! It definitely gives everyone a purpose, unless they don't like their role (which is itself a potential story element). Would it turn them into actual Nazis? Maybe! Really the Stanford study is the only one of its kind to my knowledge, because it was so alarming as to shut down all further research using those methods. But it was pretty damning. You could easily argue that the characters would fall into their roles based on that.

Will they go insane doing this? Probably not. In fact I think they're more likely to go insane without it, or at least life would be miserable. Isolation does bad things to people, your deities are going to be damaged no matter what. But having a little VR time in the outside could definitely help keep them grounded. Part of the problem with the Stanford study was the total immersion the students were subjected to. Had they been able to go home on the weekends, maybe it would have been a lot different.

Edit: It's been pointed out in the comments that the Stanford prison experiment isn't necessarily a reliable source of information, because the people involved were being externally influenced to some extent. So take that data with a large grain of salt.

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    $\begingroup$ From my own experience with live-action and other roleplaying, "high rates of stress and exhaustion" are definitely a possible, even common outcome. Maybe your space colonists would be better off taking up woodworking or crossword puzzles... $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Nov 23 '19 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence Would you read a story about people trapped in a bunker doing crossword puzzles? We need it to be more extreme! Woodworking could be fun, all those tools would make great weapons... $\endgroup$
    – thanby
    Nov 23 '19 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ From the perspective of an author, sure, that makes sense. But from the perspective of the in-story person who's coordinating activities to try to keep things stable, you want less drama. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Nov 23 '19 at 2:00
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    $\begingroup$ @thanby I kind of want to accept your challenge to write an engaging story about solving a crossword puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Nov 23 '19 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with referencing the Stanford study is that it was poisoned by the professor. A lot of the guards were encouraged by the professor to act a certain way. It is best used as an example on how to not conduct an unbiased study. See livescience.com/62832-stanford-prison-experiment-flawed.html for details $\endgroup$ Nov 26 '19 at 16:36

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