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Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model
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Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model


September 1, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

Conclusion

While no model of human behavior can ever be considered perfect, the practical question is only whether a given model provides sufficient explanatory and predictive power to allow game designers to communicate usefully about what gamers want, why they want it, and how to give it to them. By that measure, I believe the Unified Model I've suggested, with the DGD1 model of Chris Bateman superimposed, produces an overall theory of gamer preferences that does offer good explanatory and predictive power.

Some will naturally object to this or that aspect of the Unified Model, or to the entire concept of any personality model that "puts people in boxes." For others, I don't imagine this model will be considered a surprising revelation. Many of the individual associations have no doubt been observed by others, such as Ethan Kennerly's exploration of the similarities between the Bartle Types and David Keirsey's temperaments (brought to my attention by Richard Bartle from a MUD-Dev post by Kennerly in 2005). Christopher Bateman has also made linkages among many of the play style models detailed here in his DGD typology.

What I think the Unified Model uniquely offers is the insight that not just one or two but many of the most well-known theories of play style and game design are closely related to each other and to a general model of personality.

All of the creators of the various theories included in the Unified Model seem to be referencing the same deep human reality: there is remarkable agreement on the basic ways in which people want to express their playfulness as a function of a general personality style. By pointing out the single pattern shared by these models, my hope is to provide a framework for thinking about gamer motivations that will help developers create better games.

Still, if some other model can be shown to have better explanatory and predictive power, then I'll enthusiastically set this one aside in favor of the new model. What matters is not that I'm personally "right," but that anyone who is interested in making better games (and making games better) has the most powerful tools for accomplishing that task.

If someone can demonstrate a model for explaining and predicting why we play as we do that is easier to understand or more effective when applied than the model presented here, gamers and developers and publishers will all win.

Until then, I hope someone will find this Unified Model useful in designing and discussing games.

Appendix

The table below compiles information about each of the four styles expressed in multiple ways. Not only does this demonstrate the very close conceptual ties between each of the four styles as seen by the different model creators, it can serve as a guide for designing gameplay elements that satisfy specific play style requirements.

Note: With three exceptions, for the rows "Keirsey" through "Covey" the text in the third column is taken directly from books, articles, presentations or other documents written by the authors of each play style or personality model. The words used in the section on Caillois are taken from the translation of Les Jeux et Les Hommes into English by Meyer Barash. The words used for the GNS+ "Experientialism" and MDA+ "Kinetics" entries are mine, since those entries don't exist in the original three-fold models.

Keirsey

Artisan

tactical, fun-loving, realistic, unconventional, spontaneous, seek stimulation, prize freedom

Bartle

Killer

imposition upon others; cause distress; adrenalin-shooting, juicy fun; thrill of the chase; reputation

Caillois

ilinx (vertigo)

movement, dizziness, disorder, physical activities, high speed, visceral

Lazzaro

serious fun

stimulation, excitement, rhythm, body

GNS+

[Experientialism]

[sense of physical skill or dexterity]

MDA+

[Kinetics]

[physical interactions with the game world]

Handy

Power culture

control-oriented, overlapping spheres of influence

Gallup

Impacting

moves others to action

Covey

Power

capacity to act, potency, energy

Motivation

Power

manipulative sensation, excitement

Problem-solving

Performance

gambling, speedruns, wallhacks, and other virtuoso performances

Character class

Thief

"Anything not nailed down is mine. Anything I can pry loose isn't nailed down."

Personification

Hands

dexterity, the sensation of touch, physical artistry

Goal

DO

action, performance, risk-taking, new sensations

 

Keirsey

Guardian

logistical, hard-working, loyal, responsible, cautious, trust authority, seek security

Bartle

Achiever

accumulating ... treasure; points-gathering and rising in levels; status; hierarchy; competition

Caillois

agôn (contest)

competition, discipline, perseverance, rules applied equally to all

Lazzaro

hard fun ("fiero")

mastery, challenge, goals, progress

GNS+

Gamism

competition, victory and loss conditions, striving, challenge, adversity, husband resources

MDA+

Mechanics

components, data representation, algorithms, actions, control mechanisms

Handy

Role culture

process-oriented, long-term hierarchical control; respect for authority

Gallup

Striving

pushes an individual toward results, routine, structure, order

Covey

Security

sense of worth, self-esteem, basic personal strength

Motivation

Security

competitive accumulation, clarity

Problem-solving

Persistence

grinding is not only effective, it's pleasant

Character class

Warrior

"I have not yet begun to fight!"

Personification

Heart

determination, loyalty, discipline, protection

Goal

HAVE

service, effort, profit, stability through possessions

 

Keirsey

Rational

strategic, problem-solving, systems analysis, ingenious, independent, trust logic, seek knowledge

Bartle

Explorer

mapping; experimentation; depth; surprise; knowledge; discovery; theoretical

Caillois

mimicry (simulation)

imaginary universe; elaborate, complex and surprising; simulation; invention

Lazzaro

easy fun

imagination, discovery, exploration, creativity, uncertainty

GNS+

Simulationism

sincere shared creativity, internal logic, system, plausibility, imagination

MDA+

Dynamics

run-time behavior, systems, models, feedback systems

Handy

Task culture

goal-oriented, matrixed to multiple tasks

Gallup

Thinking

analyzes the world

Covey

Wisdom

judgment, discernment, comprehension, understanding, parts and principles ... related to each other

Motivation

Knowledge

logical rule-discovery, invention

Problem-solving

Perception

solve puzzles and simulations through insight, not repetition

Character class

Wizard

"Curunír ... was subtle in speech and skilled in all the devices of smith-craft."

Personification

Head

intelligence, knowledge, forethought, craftiness

Goal

KNOW

knowledge-gathering, pattern recognition, planning, competency through analysis

 

Keirsey

Idealist

diplomatic, seek their true self, meaningful relationships, wisdom, kindhearted, spiritual, human potentials

Bartle

Socializer

role-playing; interested in people; empathising; grow[th] as individuals; relationships; influence

Caillois

alea (randomness)

chance, surrender to destiny, equal footing, complementary to agôn

Lazzaro

people fun

relationships, self-expression, personalization, cooperation

GNS+

Narrativism

addresses [a story] Premise, emotional connection, real-people interactions

MDA+

Aesthetics

desirable emotional responses, goals

Handy

People culture

person-oriented, temporary groups following charismatic leaders

Gallup

Relating

builds connections with others

Covey

Guidance

source of direction, standards, principles

Motivation

Identity

emotional relationships, fairness

Problem-solving

Persuasion

consensus-building through self-awareness

Character class

Cleric

"Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better."

Personification

Spirit

vision, devotion, passion, certainty

Goal

BECOME

self-expression, personal growth, community, drama

References

1. Richard Bartle: "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs".

2. Christopher Bateman: 21st Century Game Design (2005); DGD1: What Play Style Do You Prefer?

3. Roger Caillois: Man, Play, and Games (1961), discussed in the "Man, Play and Games" Wikipedia entry.

4. Ron Edwards: "Gamist, Narrativist, Simulationist" Wikipedia entry; Gamism: Step On Up; Narrativism: Story Now; Simulationism: The Right to Dream.

5. Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek: "MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research".

6. David Keirsey: Please Understand Me II (1998); http://www.keirsey.com/.

7. Ethan Kennerly: "Elements of the Psyche: Does Myers-Briggs trump Bartle?"

8. Robin D. Laws: "Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering" (2001).

9. Nicole Lazzaro's "Four Keys": http://www.xeodesign.com/xeodesign_whyweplaygames.pdf; http://www.slideshare.net/NicoleLazzaro/gdc-4-emotions-social-games-lazzaro-slides-100311; http://www.xeodesign.com/whyweplaygames.html.


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