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Feature: Understanding Your Players Completely

Feature: Understanding Your Players Completely

September 1, 2011 | By Staff

September 1, 2011 | By Staff
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More: Console/PC, Design

In Gamasutra's latest feature, a unified model of player types is proposed -- by surveying work done by academics and developers and attempting to synthesize a total picture of why players play.

The piece starts with Richard Bartle's four famous Types:

- Killers: interfere with the functioning of the game world or the play experience of other players
- Achievers: accumulate status tokens by beating the rules-based challenges of the game world
- Explorers: discover the systems governing the operation of the game world
- Socializers: form relationships with other players by telling stories within the game world

The piece proceeds from there, investigating work done by developers such as Nicole Lazzaro, and Robin Hunicke, and also psychologist David Keirsey and sociologist Roger Caillois -- and many more.

Keirsey's work can be compared to Bartle's quite clearly, and that forms the basis for the first part of the article, as author Bart Stewart writes:

"In the second edition of Keirsey's book, Please Understand Me II, Keirsey grouped his four temperaments as four quadrants across two axes to show how they were related according to an internal structure, very much as Richard Bartle had."

This leap leads Stewart to bring the two systems together, and then start to fill in the blanks with other work by scholars and game developers, such as Chris Bateman's DGD1 Model.

"All of the elements that Bateman defined for his four play styles as well as for the Hardcore and Casual modes appear to map not directly onto the Keirsey/Bartle map, but into each of the gaps between the four Keirsey/Bartle styles," Stewart writes.

"The value of the DGD1 model (beyond the utility it has in and of itself as a model of personality) is that it provides a direct response to one of the most common criticisms of the Bartle Types model, which is that no one is ever just one 'type' of player."

The full feature takes a look at more research and compares and contrasts it, hoping to unify the models described by all of it and provide a clear picture of what makes gamers tick.

"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," Stewart concludes.

The comprehensive feature, Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model, is live now on Gamasutra.

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