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Bartle's Taxonomy of player types concerning cheating

by Ashlye Kaczmarek on 11/21/17 10:32:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


“ Achievers are diamonds, They are always seeking treasure. Explorers are spades, they dig around for information. Socializes are hearts, they empathize with other players, and killers are clubs because they hit people with them”(Bartle, 2017). 

The gaming industry and its consumers have changed considerably since day one and this has affected the games in considerably large ways. One of the industries that has an increasing impact on the gaming industry and its players, would be that of the cheating industry. From the first cheat code put in place to the personalities of the different player types, proposed by Richard Bartle this paper will be exploring the diverse connections between cheating and one’s personality in the virtual world.

 By dictionary definition, Cheating in video games is when a game player is using non-standard methods to create an advantage or disadvantage beyond the normal gameplay in order to make said game easier or harder. Cheating in and of itself is stated by the Oxford Dictionary as “to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in game or examination.” Cheating in video games was first presented in the form of cheat codes that were put in place for play-testing purposes by the game designers themselves. This was done to make the rigorous process of testing a lot easier and less taxing. One of the earliest versions of a cheat code is located in a single player platform called Manic Miner. This cheat was placed in by the game's developer Matthew Smith, which he used originally for testing (In the chair with Matthew Smith, 2017). When it came time to ship the game and get rid of the cheat mode, he thought for a moment that people may like being able to get a different sight into the game through it in gameplay. This lead Smith to add a code to the mechanic which was accomplished by typing “6031769”, based on his driving license, which enabled the cheat mode in the game. 

As video gaming evolved, cheat codes became a marketable object, from Cheat books and game guides, even going as far as creating cheat cartridges, thus cementing cheating into the gaming culture (Consolvo, 2009). Cheating can be entirely different to everyone or it can be a cemented idea of which is constituted as cheating.  Is it something that is entirely different to everyone or is there a cemented idea of what is constituted as cheating. People who cheat tend to not care about the game so as much as completing the game as fast as possible or to mess with people for their enjoyment. No one person in the world is the same, so not everyone would cheat in games the same. Based on Bartle's Taxonomy of Player types, we will delve into the psychology of how each type of person would cheat and find their true motive to their madness. 

Richard Bartle is known for being the founder of the Taxonomy of Player Types. This taxonomy of player types model is based on the behaviors of players in a MUDs and MMORPG settings. These behaviors are observed and analyzed and divided into four separate play styles and personalities: Killers, Achievers, Socializes, and Explorers (Bartle, 2017). When these people are introduced to cheating, it is intriguing to see what they would do with the resources given to them.

The Killer player type is known for imposing themselves on others.This Type tends to attack others wanting to kill off their persona, the more damage that is done, the more it pleases the killer. Killers don’t care about how you feel, as long as they can make you mad at the game. They find joy in making other people suffer (Kyatric, 2013). All social interactions in the game with these people are just a means to an end. Killers are the bullies of the game and are usually referred to as people of few words. In regards to foul game play and cheating in its truest form, killers will stop at nothing to cause turmoil (Bartle, 2017). In the player versus environment setting, the killer player type commonly competes against other players to better their skills, along with other forms of trickery. These PvE encounters are prime practice ground for these types of player. From cheating and hacking to attention farmers, killers top the charts in all categories. They are not known for utilizing strategy guides to get past situations like the average player, they would much rather partake in dirtier forms of cheating such as hacking the game. The Killer player type is someone that will be reported on numerous occasions for their irony and even possibly will get banned for their actions against other players due to its ruining other players experience of the game.

Achievers are one of the most common player types that we usually encounter in our day to day gameplay. Whether it is gaining levels, points or achievements, Achievers aim to be on top, the more challenging the obstacle is the higher the reward (Kyatric, 2013). Unlike other player types, Achievers are a little bit of every player type. In order to achieve their goals, exploration is a necessity to find objects and treasures, Socializing assists in accumulating the knowledge of other players, and killing is only truly necessary to eliminate enemies and those who get in the way. When associating this player type with cheating, it proceeds to be more of the sky’s the limit type of scenario. Due to Achievers being a little bit of every category, stating whether they would cheat and how they would be a bit tricky. At times like this, there is mostly a two-sided approach. On one hand, you could have an achiever that does not like to work for the things they have and would like to get them as soon as possible, and then we have those who will spend countless hours to work, who find cheating demeaning to their craft. Those who are looking for instant gratification are the type to exploit any cheats they can find. From strategy game guides to farming bots, if there is something that can assist in getting them the achievement or items that they desire, with the least amount of work possible, they will take it. Many players in this particular subcategory think of this as utilizing your resources (Consolvo, 2009).

Traveling through the mountains and the distant lands of a game, to the little unknown parts of the world, The players that strive for these moments are known as Explorers. They love going to the out of the way places with extraordinary features, they also love having the game expose itself through its machinations and to figure out how the game works. They thrive on discovery and making the absolute most out of a game's maps (Kyatric, 2013). If an explorer were to explore the world of cheating, they would most likely stick to using strategy guides, cheats codes, and game modifications. Now, unlike other player types, they would not use these to take away all of the work and to become instantly gratified. Explorers typically would use cheats to find the best way to find new things in the game and to open up the game and explore its machinations. This form of cheating is harmless to the user and to the players around them because essentially they are just trying to get to something unique, and not trying to rid people of the process. Such cheats may include, speed boosts for traveling, area mapping, how to guides and more. The utilization of other players maps and strategy guides are used by several explorer types to assist in the location of hard to find areas and to help find the easiest way of navigating the world around them. Too many people in the community this is not considered to be true cheating because it does not give a real disadvantage to other players, but rather it is boosting your experience as a player (Consolvo, 2009).

One very important part of online games is the social aspect that comes with it. Socializes are people who utilize these games as a way to make friends. Bartle states that “ The game is merely a backdrop, a common ground where things happen to players” The game in and of itself is a tool for building inter-player relationships which are extremely important to socialize (Kyatric, 2013). The act of being social with a large number of people is especially rewarding to them and they love to see people grow as individuals. This group is full of truly down to earth people. Exploration of the map is not necessary, but it may be when needing to understand what other players are discussing. This group's ultimate goal is to make friends and create meaningful relationships. Cheating for this group, all in all, has no real purpose. They are not here for the game itself, but for the people and there are no cheat codes to make people like you. Socializes may use cheats to access parts of a game to see what everyone has been talking about, or to gain items that they need but don't have time to go get. One thing to remember is that Socializes will not use cheating to hurt anyone at any point in time. This group is the ultimate pacifist of gaming. They will not kill other players unless extremely provoked or for revenge.

Cheating has become a permanent add on to the gaming world as we know it. It started out as a fixture to assist in the testing portion of development and eventually became a marketable business venture that permanently cemented it into the gaming society. No two people are the same, in gaming we are all very different. During our time in the game, Bartle's taxonomy is a great way to tell just who we are based on our play style and when partnered with psychology. We can see the true colors of them come out, especially when it is concerning cheating and who would partake and how. Each player may alone be just one type or they may be a mix of different ones, the ways people can cheat are endless based on their personality and what their goal is. Motives can change, situations vary, and the psychology of players is an ever-changing dichotomy. Cheating will vary along with this psychology for years to come. 

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