Player Types: Watch for Moving Targets

A Deeper Look at Richard Bartle’s Player Types, Part II

Since the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology was created in 1996, more than 740,000 people have taken it. Gaming circles have seen the old saw “What’s your sign?” transformed into “I’m an KEAS. What’s your type?”  For example, I found this comment on a gaming blog:

“So I took the test again today.
Apparently I’m a little bit more into PVP these days and a little bit less in socializing.
Killer 93%, Explorer 60%, Achiever 33%, Socializer 13%”

This comment hints at a two interesting subtleties about Bartle’s player type model.  First, most players exhibit a combination of all four player types, and second, and just as important, players may change their type from time to time.  In fact, as we will see, players will often move through a predictable progression of types over the course of playing any given game.

If you’re not familiar with Richard Bartle’s Player Type model, my last post delved into the definitions of each player type, how players of different types interacted with each other and amongst themselves, and how multi-user games need to achieve a balance between types.  The fact that players often exhibit behaviors of all four types provides another reason to avoid designing applications that don’t cater in some way to all of the player types.  In this post, we’ll take a deeper look at how Bartle’s full model explains the movement between types.

Expanding Bartle’s Original Model
Bartle’s original model mapped players on a two-dimensional grid with the two axes expressing each player’s degree of preference for acting on or interacting with the game world itself or its players.[1]  In his 2005 paper “Virtual Worlds: Why People Play,” Bartle notes that there were several flaws in this model:

“Although this model has been generally accepted as a useful tool among designers, it
nevertheless has flaws. Two are of particular importance. Firstly, it suggests that players
change type over time, but it doesn’t suggest how or why they might do so. Secondly, all
of the types to some degree, but especially the one for acting on players (that is, Killers),
seem to have sub-types that the model doesn’t predict.”[2] (more…)


Your Mission: Stop Disease and Save the World

When I was much younger, there was a period of time when you couldn’t tear me away from my science kits. Whether it was creating an oozing red mess with a volcano or forming my very own crystals, I was a gift to the field of science (or so I thought). Somewhere between elementary school experiments and high school science, I had lost interest. It was not until I read about Boehringer Ingelheim’s upcoming launch of a game called Syrum that I saw hope for my lost interest in test tubes and beakers.



The Results are in and a Lucky City Celebrates with a Pumpkin Spice Latte

I am one of those people who generally doesn’t drink coffee. I have somehow managed to get through years and years of school without much need for it. There is, however, one exception to this statement: I will run, push people out of the way (not actually, but I’ve considered it), and wait in the insanely long lines when the holiday drinks arrive at Starbucks. There are apparently many who feel the same need to indulge as fall sets in and Starbucks has recognized this and created a challenge out of it.



What’s the Big Deal about Bartle’s Player Types?

A Deeper Look at Richard Bartle’s Player Types

Achievers are motivated to win. Explorers like to discover the intricacies and secrets of their world.  Socializers enjoy human interaction, helping others, and building alliances, while killers like to dominate those around them.

If you’ve played any kind of multi-player game or been involved in a community organization (whether online or in the real world), you’ve run into all of these player types.  This player typology was developed by Richard Bartle, a multi-user dungeon (MUD) creator and academic, during the 1980’s and formally published in 1996.  Since then, Bartle’s player types have become one of the best-known design patterns in online gaming and in the burgeoning gamification field.

The appeal is clear.  Player types provide application designers with a new way to look at psychographics and motivations and at the different ways we have fun. Once they understand Bartle’s typology, designers can easily enable specific social interactions targeted at each type.  Amy Jo Kim provides an excellent an example of how to do this in her Gamification 101 workshop:

In this series of posts, we will be taking a deeper look at Bartle’s player types.  We will look at his original 1996 treatise and subsequent writings and explore why Bartle’s typology has been more appealing and enduring that other possible models.

What Bartle Says


Oxford University Press Plans to Gamify Classic Books

Maybe your younger days were consumed by the fantasy worlds from your favorite books. With each new story, you looked forward to bonding with the characters, embarking on a new journey, and, with any luck, living happily ever after.  Or perhaps reading when you were younger was a torturous affair that could only be done if the right bribe or incentive were in place. Whatever the case may be, the recent partnership between Oxford University Press and mobile and social web game developer SecretBuilders is an exciting one.


Comments Off on Oxford University Press Plans to Gamify Classic Books , , , ,

PlayMoolah Gamifies Money Management for Kids

Many years ago, I wanted more than anything my very own Lite-Brite. I had an agreement with my parents whereby my doing minor choirs after school would equal an allowance. And thus I had a newfound income, and yet no bank account to save it it, so I decided to depend on my mint green piggy bank. It was the first time I had experienced that concept of saving money and the satisfaction of buying something for myself. I’m sure I am not the last kid to have a wish list and a stash of money in a piggy bank, which is why I am not surprised that PlayMoolah has created a virtual piggy bank of sorts to help kids learn about money management while also having fun.



Khan Academy’s Vision of the Future of Education

Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, has made it his goal to improve education around the world. In a recent TED talk, he said that he hoped, with the work he and his team were doing, they could make advances in the way kids learn and create a global one-world classroom.

His goals are admirable but the task is huge, so I was interested in learning just how Khan Academy works. The tutorial videos are only about ten minutes in length and allow students to enjoy learning at their own pace and in their own setting. In the Los Altos School District, two 5th grade classes, and two 7th grade pre-algebra readiness classes piloted the Khan Academy and it was found that a flipping of the classroom schedule resulted. This meant that teachers were asking the students to watch a video as homework and what used to be homework would now be done in class. So instead of the teacher standing in front of the class and going through a monologue, students are able to interact with one another about the work, meaning teachers can humanize the learning experience.


Comments Off on Khan Academy’s Vision of the Future of Education , , ,

Gamify to Add Years to Your life

I’m sure I am not the only person who would blush if I had to calculate and publicly announce how much time I spend gaming. So when I heard that there was someone out there who is suggesting not only that I play more but also that there is a game that can add years to my life, I was more than thrilled.

I recently said that I wasn’t sure I would want gamification to be present in every aspect of my life; however, Jane McGonigal may have convinced me otherwise. In her presentation, she shares her personal experiences after a severe concussion and how creating a life game called SuperBetter brought her out of her depression.



Gamification Without Limits

Gamification is a relatively new concept and is one that seems to be constantly evolving. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who are ready to imagine how far using game-like elements in a non-game setting can go and for what purposes.

Two students, Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo, have an eye towards the future of gamification and created a short film that shows it. The film’s main actor moves from one daily task to the next, collecting points as he goes, seemingly as a result of his demon-like eyes. Towards the beginning of the film, the task of cutting up cucumbers becomes a real life version of the “Veggie Ninja” application, minus the samurai and the resulting mess.  One of my favorite tasks he is capable of is entering a virtual closet and trying on various outfits, without ever leaving the couch. And finally viewers accompany him on his awkward and somewhat creepy date where he is given tips as the date progresses and ultimately reprograms his date when things aren’t going well.

Although trying on various outfits in a matter of moments without lifting a finger does sound tempting, I am not sure I want gamification to invade every aspect of my life to the extent that it is literally in my head. Thankfully there is currently no cause for concern because there is no telling if what is depicted in the film will ever be a reality. But Lazo and May-raz’s film shows us a glimpse of gamification without limitations or boundaries, quite possibly the future of gamification.


Back to School: Are E-Readers and Tablets Helpful in the Classroom?

As children prepare for “Back to School” and markers, crayons, and backpacks overtake grocery stores, I am reminded of an article I read recently discussing the impact that tablets and e-readers have in the classroom. My time in grade school came long before the likes of the iPad or the Nook, so my imagination was the only tool I had to make a book magical. Now, kids using tablets and e-readers probably have many of the same books I read but with added features like music and the ability to interact with the story. I started to wonder if these devices are more beneficial to young students or if they are more of a distraction to the task at hand.


Comments Off on Back to School: Are E-Readers and Tablets Helpful in the Classroom? , , , , , , ,