BONUS CONTENT: Player Personalities: What Gamers Want From Their Games

With my Game of the Year backlog done with, I can move on and discuss some more learned and thought provoking topics. For my bonus post this week I will be delving into The Bartle taxonomy of player types and scratching the surface as to what different gamer types enjoy the most from a game.

Richard Bartle is a British writer, professor and game researcher. In 1996 he wrote a research paper in response to what gameplay elements specific gamer types wanted from a MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). Since then, this breakdown can be used to look at player habits in both MMO’s and single player games. Bartle broke down gamers into 4 distinct different categories depending on whether a player acts or interacts when playing and whether this occurs with either the world or other players. For anything finding it difficult to follow, here is a helpful chart to help you follow.

You can see in the chart that each quarter represents a different category. Bartle originally assigned each of these categories as aa playing card suit. Achievers were Diamonds, Explorers were Spades, Socialisers were Hearts & Killers were Clubs. I’ve taken this concept even further and assigned them each a Hogwarts house as well. Achievers are Griffindor, Explorers are Ravenclaw, Socialisers are Hufflepuff & Killers are Slitherin.

(note: Achievers and Explorers have traits of both Ravenclaw and Griffindor and I had trouble deciding which way round to put them, I decided on this way in the end because it was my original thought and makes me feel a little bit happier being that way)

Achievers are the hard workers of gaming, enjoying the completing of tasks and objectives. They are the ones found trying to max out their achievements/trophies, getting the highest score, the best equipment or maximising their level. They tend to gravitate towards games with a bit more rigidity and structure, usually games that are more linear with less creative freedom. They usually be found grinding experience or equipment in games such as World of Warcraft or trying to get to the top of the leader board in games such as Call of Duty.

Explorers (such as myself) are the seekers of gaming. They are the ones that are found hunting the unexplored finding Easter Eggs or uncovering secrets of the game or world being played in, peeling back the veil to find the secrets that live within. We tend to enjoy games that feed that sense of exploration and discovery, large open games with lots of secrets or lore to discover. Games such as The Elder Scrolls or The Witcher are perfect for Explorer style gamers. Explorers tend to get bored of games quite quickly when they start to feel like a chore.

Socialisers are the extroverts of gaming and love games with more of a social aspect like meeting up with clan members in World of Warcraft or visiting friends in Animal Crossing. Socialisers tend to congregate with other Socialisers so sometimes you might find Socialisers spending more time as an active member of a games forum than actually playing the game.

Finally Killers are the trolls of gaming. They tend to be found making other players miserable and aren’t usually happy unless another playing is cursing them somewhere in the world. Killers are completely self-indulgent and treat the game as an ego trip & power-play a way to cement themselves as the best. They can usually be found picking off newly spawned players in Call of Duty or inhabiting an MMO’s weaker player areas killing off lower level players.

Developers will decide when making a game on what kind of balance they want to achieve . As an unbalanced game can lead to an unbalanced player base which will increase the longer the issue remains unsolved, for example an over abundance of Killer type players can put off a lot or Achiever and Socialiser type gamers.

There are many general correlations between how the rise and hall of each player base effects the others but as this can be a bit complex and this is just an overview I may leave that for another time. I hope that this will give some food for thought and that any new and aspiring game developers reading this will gain a better understanding into making a game more accessible for all types of players.