事实上，一些流传已久的游戏类型和游戏设计模型在概念上可谓“资源共享”。所以，我的第一个主张是，无论是Bartle分类法，或者Caillois、 Lazzaro、 Bateman提出的游戏类型模型、 还是Edwards、Hunicke/LeBlanc/Zubek等人提出的游戏设计模型，都是本文所谓的统一模型的变体。
（游戏邦注：作者在本文中引用的Richard Bartle、David Keirsey、Christopher Bateman等人的文献参考，是其本人的理解。因此，读者不必将其当成原作者的本意。）
最初的四种Bartle分类法（提出者在他的书《Designing Virtual Worlds》中已将其拓展成8种）的正式描述出现在游戏Multi-User Dungeon (MUD)的联合制作人Richard Bartle所写的文章《Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs》中。
以下是Bartle 分类法的四分坐标图（游戏邦注：本图实际上是把原图顺时针旋转了90度，原图出自《Players Who Suit MUDs》，至于原因，请读者耐心往下读，自会明白）。
上世纪70年代，心理学家David Keirsey把Myers-Briggs人格模型中描述的16种类型提炼成四种一般类型。在他的（合作者Marilyn Bates）《Please Understand Me》一书中，Keirsey描述了这4种“性格”，同时给出名称：
在这本书的第二版本《Please Understand Me II》中，作者和Richard Bartle一样，把他的4种性格类型划分为四个象限，以体现四者在内部结构上的联系。然而，在他提出这个模型时，我已经得出另一个稍微不同的分类版本。
我认为最基本的人类行为分类是，内在（偏向可能性和抽象性） vs. 外在（偏向具体性和现实性）和改变（自由和机遇） vs. 构建（规则或组织）。如此一来，四种性格就各自综合了外在/内在和改变/构建这两对元素：
本文我主要探讨的是Keirsey 和Bartle主张的分类模型。首先，我们谈谈David Keirsey描述的四种性格类型——技师、守护者、理性者和理想主义者——分别对应 Richard Bartle描述的四种玩家类型：
在2011年的GDC的游戏开发者演说上，Ryan Creighton展示了他的硬币收集游戏，其中有个“社交工程”部分（“social engineering”），我们可以从中找到以上描述的力证。为了获得游戏的胜利，守护者/成就者会在遵守游戏规则的前提下，满屋子地找别人要硬币；理性者/探索者会淡定地坐看硬币的交易，试图发现游戏的本质；技师/杀手会不断地研究如何缩短游戏时间，并且，作为天生的谈判专家，他们很轻易地能说服别人把一袋子金币拱手相让。看吧，事情就是这样。
由Christopher Bateman编写的书《21st-Century Game Design》，探究了游戏玩法设计的“集群游戏设计”模型（”demographic game design” model (DGD1)），我认为这个模型有利地配合了Keirsey/Bartle模型。 Bateman 提出的模型虽然没有匹配各个性格类型，但形成了次级游戏类型，从而填补了主要游戏类型之间的空白地带。
Bateman 所定义的四种游戏类型元素和硬核/休闲模式一样，不直接映射 Keirsey/Bartle模型，但对应了四种 Keirsey/Bartle类型之间的空白段。下图反映了这种叠加关系（返回看前面几张图，这下明白为什么我说是顺时针旋转90度了吧？）：
注：《21st-Century Game Design》出版后，DGD2模型的问卷随之出现在iHobo网站上。DGD2模型由基于Myers-Briggs的DGG1模型衍生出来，更加明确地围绕Keirsey性格模型构建。DGD2没有破坏或更改DGD1所提出的游戏类型模型，而是采纳了Keirsey性格理论的某些概念，在Keirsey性格模型（和Bartle分类法）的DGD1模型中突出了征服者、管理者、漫游者和参与者类型。（即后来的BrainHex六分模型。）
统一模型的第一部分把Keirsey的人类性格一般理论与Richard Bartle、Roger Caillois和 Nicole Lazzaro描述的四种基本游戏类型联系起来。
除了这些游戏类型模型，还有两种重要的游戏设计模型，在定义上，与 Keirsey的性格模型有关。它们就是：游戏者/叙述者/模拟者（GNS）游戏设计模型（由Ron Edwards最先提出，简称为GNS+模型，但后来被弃置不用了） 和机制/动态/美学（MDA）框架（由Hunicke、LeBlanc和Zubek阐述，简称为MDA+模型）。
在我看来，把这种类型补充到GNS模型中未尝不可。在Robin Laws提出的游戏类型模型中，经验主义者的倾向与“亢奋”玩家类型非常相似。另外，喜欢享受激烈的游戏体验正好类比 Caillois所描述的“眩晕”乐趣。
在FPS中，高速、激亢的战略行动的直接受众是外向型的技师/杀手。外向型的守护者/成就者的喜好是处理写得一清二楚的操作规则、收集游戏内物品和成就（这是他们采取行动的目的）。一定程度上，如果一款游戏高度强调以上两方面元素，那么这款游戏既能受到技师/杀手的青睐，也能博得守护者/成就者的好感。这种混搭组合放在Chris Bateman的DGD1模型中的休闲游戏模式中，可能有些奇怪——纯FPS的游戏通常是非常紧张刺激——但它符合Chris Bateman描述的“休闲”游戏的概念，根据这种概念，玩家在游戏中没有投入多少情绪，所以想玩就玩，想退就退，游戏主题很实在，也很容易理解，且针对的是大众市场。
理性者/探索者和技师/杀手的结合相当于Chris Bateman的DGD1模型所描述的强调策略/战略的“管理者”游戏类型。Chris Bateman将“管理者”描述为，可以在自己确实喜欢的游戏上奋战数小时的“复杂引导型玩家”，他们的类型“与精通和系统有关”。这几乎解释了《Minecraft》为什么能够对那些喜欢按自己的设计重置游戏的玩家群体产生强大的吸引力。
那么，同时迎合理想主义者/社交家的内向改变目标和技师/杀手的外向改变渴望的游戏是怎么样的呢？（对应DGD1模型的“漫游者”类型）这样的游戏，如果不掺杂理性者/探索者和守护者/成就者的模拟者或游戏者的构建倾向，可能会变成很混乱的、高度社交化的、狂事突发的环境。（事实上，这听起来非常像《第二人生》，对吧？这样的东西能像单人游戏那样运作吗？ Facebook 游戏又怎么样呢？）
有些人当然会反对统一模型的某个方面，或甚至否认所有“把人框架化”的性格模型的整个概念。 我不指望这些人承认该模型的巨大启发价值。毫无疑问，许多人也各自观察得出不少独特的关联组合，如Ethan Kennerly探索Bartle分类学和David Keirsey性格模型之间的相似性。Christopher Bateman也在他的DGD分类法中详述许多游戏类型模型的组合。
注：“Keirsey”到“Covey”这几行文本的第三列是直接摘自各个游戏类型或性格模型的主张者的文献或展示。Caillois部分的文字出自Meyer Barash对原文《Les Jeux et Les Hommes》 的英译版。GNS+中的“经验主义”和MDA+中的“动力学”（Kinetics）完全是我个人的说法，因为三个模型中都不存在这些概念。
Mitch Krpata的《New Taxonomy of Gamers》区分了不同种类的挑战、沉浸度和娱乐。Michael Abbott的《Fun Factor Catalog》提供了一套基于数据得出的吸引力，但是目前还未被严密和系统化地组织起来（游戏邦注：仍处在总结过程中）。
同时，Hunicke、LeBlanc和Zubek的MDA（Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics）框架提供的可能是最容易理解的系列方法，让玩家参与到游戏中，但是对某些层面的探索略显不足。少数理论化方法甚至将“屈服”当成人们玩游戏的原因。
典型游戏：《Morrowind》、《天际》、《SWTOR》、《Baldur’s Gate》系列、《无冬之夜》、《Cave Story》。
典型游戏：《反恐精英：起源》、《Day of Defeat》、《Red Orchestra》、《Company of Heroes》、《StarCraft 2》、《Planetside 2》、《Age of Chivalry》和《Battlefield 3》。
典型游戏：《Minecraft》、《Tycoon》系列，《Terraria, X3: Albion Prelude》、《Dwarf Fortress》、《Spore》和《Hinterland》。
典型游戏：《全面战争》系列、《Hearts of Iron》、《Aperatus》、《Frozen Synapse》、《SpaceChem》、《传送门 2》。
典型游戏：《Morrowind》&《Skyrim》、X3系列、《Minecraft》、《Trine 2》、《Divinity II》、《SWTOR》和《Dwarf Fortress》。
典型游戏：《Audiosurf》、《Beat Hazard》、《Droplitz》、《Scribblenauts》、《Spectraball》、《Zombie Driver》和《Orcs Must Die!》。
典型游戏：《I Wanna Be The Guy》、《Silver Surfer (NES)》、《Super Meat Boy》、《VVVVVV》、《Bit.Trip Runner》、《Jamestown》、《AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity》、《N+》。
典型游戏：《辐射》、《天际》、《Baldur’s Gate II》、《龙腾世纪：起源》、《无尽之夜》、《Icewind Dale》、《生化奇兵》、《刺客信条》。
作者：Steve Bromley, Graham McAllister, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Jonathan Napier
在多人游戏中，社交互动成为了一种越来越重要的主题。Wii的成功以及它所强调的休闲多人游戏，如《Wii Sports》或者《Just Dance》，都证明了让玩家与好友一起玩游戏，能够让游戏获得更广泛的用户基础并创造出更深刻的体验。
对于开发者来说，他们必须掌握现有的社交互动类型，并在游戏开发过程中衡量自己所侧重的类型。从Relentless Software和Vertical Slice的合作中，我们得出了一套方法论，能够帮助开发者从最早的游戏原型设计中便开始评估游戏的互动性。
Voida, Carpendale和Greenberg在他们的学术论文《The Individual and the Group in Console Gaming》中分析了玩家在《吉他英雄》，《马里奥派对》以及《马里奥赛车》等多人社交游戏中的行为。通过观察并记录玩家在这些游戏中的不同行为，他们将互动性分为六大类型，如下表所示。Ackermann同样也展开了一项研究，即通过观察并分析LAN party（游戏邦注：由一群人暂时性、通常也是自发性的带著他们的电脑，在一个地方将电脑以局域网路连结的聚会）中玩家的互动形式，并记录下一些相似的互动分类。
这些玩家是来自于一些现有的社会团体，以此能够更容易推动他们进行互动。让两名玩家一起玩《Buzz! Quiz World》（游戏邦注：这是一款由Relentless Software开发的社交益智游戏）。
对于这类型的玩家，开发者可以通过提供给玩家更多获得胜利的机制而确保游戏的用户粘性。早前游戏，如《马里奥赛车》或者《Buzz! Quiz World》决赛中的“rubber banding”机制便都体现了这一点，即在最后游戏关卡中将玩家之前所获得的分数变成其最后一回合的抢先优势。
《Buzz! Quiz World》的“Pie Fight”回合特别强调了这一点，即玩家如果回答错误便会遭到馅饼的袭击；以及在“Over the Edge”回合中，当玩家落向烂泥槽时，其情绪反应级别便会明显地向上窜升。
在像《Buzz! Quiz World》这类型的小游戏中，如果对手不知道问题的正确答案，对于玩家来说便具有优势；但是对于成就者来说，他们希望能够大声说出答案，以此显示自己的知识渊博，即使必须以游戏失败为代价。显然，对于这类型玩家来说，声望比起任何游戏目标都重要。
（在“Over The Edge”回合中，当玩家落向烂泥槽时，成就者的GSR信号（绿色）便会达到最高值。）
这一研究主要呈现了社交小游戏《Buzz! Quiz World》中不同玩家类型，包括喜欢嘲弄别人的高度竞争型杀手玩家，夸夸其谈的成就者，以及重视团体协作的社交家等所体现出的不同社交互动形式。而不同游戏类型，从第一人称射击游戏到角色扮演游戏对于这一方法的使用也将体现出不同玩家类型的不同交互特征。同时这一方法也能够帮助开发者更好地探索更大群体玩家间的社交互动变化。
篇目1，Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model
by Bart Stewart
[In this comprehensive analysis, multiple psychological systems of gameplay are surveyed, to try and arrive at a unified model in which player behavior can be understood and, crucially for game developers, catered to.]
Numerous models of gamer psychology have been proposed and debated over the past couple of decades. One of the earliest and simplest has proven to be one of the most referenced and most enduring: the Bartle Types. I believe this is because the Bartle Types are a functional model of human personality in a game playing context. In other words, the Bartle typology works because it’s a subset of a more general personality model that works.
In fact, several of the best-known play style and game design models share many conceptual elements. So I’m also proposing here that the Bartle typology, the play style models of Caillois, Lazzaro, and Bateman, and the game design models of Edwards and Hunicke/LeBlanc/Zubek are all variations on a single Unified Model of play styles.
(Please note that any and all references I make in this article to the works of Richard Bartle, David Keirsey, Christopher Bateman and others that aren’t clearly sourced as quotations are my own interpretations. As such, they should not be considered official descriptions of these authors’ ideas.)
The Four Bartle Types
The official description of the original four Bartle Types (which have been expanded to eight types in Richard Bartle’s book Designing Virtual Worlds) is preserved in the paper “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs” by Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) co-creator Richard Bartle.
This model, which was based on observing and analyzing the behaviors people playing together in a multi-user game, holds that there are four different kinds of play style interests, each of which is given a descriptive name: Killers, Achievers, Explorers, and Socializers.
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
These four styles emerged from the combination of two primary gameplay interests, which I’ve called Content and Control, each of which has two mutually exclusive forms. Content is defined to mean either acting simply and directly on objects in the game world, or interacting more deeply with world-systems. Control refers to how players want to experience the game world — either through the dynamic behaviors of other players, or with the relatively static world of the game itself.
Killers and Achievers both turned out to be mostly interested in acting on things or people, treating things and people as external objects. At the same time, Explorers and Socializers both seemed to prefer a deeper level of interacting with things or other people, focusing on internal qualities.
Similarly, Killers and Socializers both seemed eager to have the opportunity to control how they are able to play dynamically with others in the game world, while Achievers and Explorers seemed most interested in controlling their relationships with the developer-defined objects in and properties of the game world itself.
The bases of the Bartle Types are thus two pairs of complementary player goals: Acting or Interacting (content), and Players or World (control). Bartle represented these interests as two lines at right angles to each other to create a grid with four quadrants, each quadrant corresponding to one of the four observed play style preferences. By determining his preference for Acting vs. Interacting and for Players vs. World, then looking up the play style in the quadrant corresponding to that combination, any gamer could easily identify his naturally preferred play style. A gamer who prefers acting over interacting and is focused more on the world of the game than other players, for example, would most likely demonstrate Achiever behaviors when playing a game.
Here’s a diagram showing how the four Bartle Types emerge from the conjunction of the two major gamer concerns with content and control. (Note: This table is rotated 90 degrees clockwise from the version presented in “Players Who Suit MUDs” for reasons that will become apparent later in this article.)
The Bartle Types
The Four Keirsey Temperaments
In the 1970s, psychologist David Keirsey identified four general patterns from the sixteen types of the Myers-Briggs personality model. In his book (co-written with Marilyn Bates) Please Understand Me, Keirsey described these four “temperaments,” giving them descriptive names much as Richard Bartle named his player types:
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. However, by the time he proposed his grouping model in the second edition of his book, I had already worked out a somewhat different arrangement.
Rather than the two dimensions that Keirsey used in his model, I believe the two most fundamentally distinctive dimensions of human behavior are Internals (a preference for seeing possibilities and the abstract) vs. Externals (seeing the concrete and realistic), and Change (which can be thought of as freedom or opportunity) vs. Structure (which can be understood as rules or organization). Each of the four temperaments is thus a combination of External/Internal and Change/Structure:
Here’s how these four styles are represented (using my two axes, not Keirsey’s) with the same kind of four-quadrant format that Richard Bartle used for the four Bartle Types:
The Keirsey Temperaments (Stewart Format)
Keirsey and Bartle
The first of the two major assertions I make in this article is that the four temperaments described by David Keirsey — Artisan, Guardian, Rational, and Idealist — are supersets of the original four player types — Killer, Achiever, Explorer, and Socializer, respectively — as described by Richard Bartle.
Where Bartle sees a preference for interacting with or acting on players in a game context, temperament theory sees a more general preference for internal or external change. And where Bartle focuses in a gameplay context on a preference for dynamic players or the static world, my version of Keirsey’s four-quadrant model has people generally preferring change or structure. I believe that because the basic two-valued motivations are analogous between the Bartle Types and the Keirsey temperaments, the types and temperaments that are generated by these motivations are also analogous.
The following diagram shows the alignment between the four Keirsey temperaments and the four Bartle Types:
Unified Model, Keirsey-Bartle Diagram
Here are some brief descriptions of each combination, showing how Keirsey and Bartle ascribe the same basic motivations to each temperament/type.
Idealist/Socializer: Socializers are described by Bartle as “… interested in people, and what they have to say. … Inter-player relationships are important … seeing [people] grow as individuals, maturing over time. … The only ultimately fulfilling thing is … getting to know people, to understand them, and to form beautiful, lasting relationships.”
This is closely related to the Keirseian description of Idealists, who are very aware of other people as part of their lifelong journey of self-discovery (Internal Change). In a way, the highly imaginative Idealists are always roleplaying; they are constantly creating images of themselves (or others) that they feel they should model through their own actions in order to produce the emotions in themselves that they want to feel.
Guardian/Achiever: For the Guardian, the world is an insecure place, so it’s necessary to protect oneself by accumulating material possessions… just in case. Thus,
Guardians focus on earning money, on competing with others for resources perceived as scarce, on buying nice things and maintaining them, on forming stable and hierarchical group relationships, and generally on working hard to make their place in the world secure by locking down their connections to the world as possessions (External Structure).
Compare that to Bartle’s description of Achievers: “Achievers regard points-gathering and rising in levels as their main goal” and “Achievers are proud of their formal status in the game’s built-in level hierarchy, and of how short a time they took to reach it.” Leveling up, leaderboards, and the accumulation of vast quantities of looted items are all behaviors that are driven more by a security-seeking motivation than by other motivations such as powerful sensations, understanding or self-growth.
This explains why the Guardian/Achiever is willing to persist in long stretches of “grind” that other kinds of gamers don’t perceive as fun at all. To this gamer, rewards should be proportional to the amount of effort invested. When a game is designed around simple, well-defined tasks that enable the competitive accumulation of status tokens, that game is virtually guaranteed to attract security-seeking Guardian/Achievers.
Rational/Explorer: Rationals play in the same way that they do everything else — they find pleasure in discovering the organized structural patterns behind raw data (Internal Structure). These can be patterns in space (as in geography) or patterns in time (as in morphology). Or they can be cause-and-effect patterns (entailment) or relationship patterns (connections). Ultimately, it’s all about achieving a strategic understanding of the system as a whole thing.
As Bartle describes Explorers: “The real fun comes only from discovery, and making the most complete set of maps in existence.” Of the core motivations — sensation-seeking, security-seeking, knowledge-seeking, and identity-seeking — exploration as “discovery” is most closely aligned with the Rational’s knowledge-seeking preference. For the Rational/Explorer, once the principle behind the data is revealed, that’s enough — understanding is its own reward. These gamers can enjoy imparting knowledge to others, but no extrinsic reward for doing so is needed or expected.
Artisan/Killer: Finally, there are the Killers (or, as I prefer to call them, Manipulators). These can be difficult to understand in a gameplay context because most virtual worlds have encoded rules that marginalize their play style as “griefing” (i.e., upsetting other players) and try to prevent it. As Bartle puts it, “Killers get their kicks from imposing themselves on others.” He also points out that Killers “wish only to demonstrate their superiority over fellow humans.”
This desire for power over everything in their world is most closely echoed in the Keirseian description of Artisans, who (as their temperament name suggests) delight in the skillfully artistic manipulation of their environment. The Artisan/Killers are the tool-users, the adrenaline junkies, the natural politicians, the combat
pilots, the high-stakes gamblers, and the negotiators par excellence. They instinctively find and exploit advantages in any tactical situation, and they express this
need for dominance of their world in order to retain the greatest amount of personal freedom possible (External Change).
I believe a very good example of this can be found in Ryan Creighton’s “social engineering” of the coin-collecting game at the Social Game Developers Rant of the 2011 Game Developers Conference. A Guardian/Achiever would have played by the rules and raced around the room begging others for their coins to try to win the game; an Idealist/Socializer would have asked for coins as a way to meet new people or help others win; and a Rational/Explorer would have sat quietly watching the flow of coin exchanges to try to understand the nature of the game. But an Artisan/Killer would instantly see how to short-circuit the designed system, and, as a born negotiator, would find it easy to persuade the person holding one of the bags of coins to hand the whole thing over… which is exactly what happened.
If the attendees needed to hear a rant from anyone, it would be the Manipulator who is out there, just waiting to exploit any opportunity to bring a little chaos to the carefully designed order of a social game. (See Ryan’s description of the event for a wonderful first-hand account of gameplay from what appears to me to be a classic Artisan/Killer perspective.)
A final note on the Keirsey/Bartle linkage: the Keirsey temperaments and Bartle Types may appear not to line up directly where attitudes toward other people are concerned. This is because the Bartle Types were developed within a multi-player environment, which selects for more extroverted, sociable gamers, while the temperaments include both extroverts and introverts.
So, for example, the “Socializer” term that makes sense within the Bartle Types for its emphasis on interacting with other people can seem not to apply to an introverted Idealist who prefers to play single-player games. These less-social Socializers are more likely to prefer individualized entertainment or abstract games, making it difficult to distinguish them from Rational/Explorer gamers. Closer study is usually required to see whether their primary reason for playing is to feel good (an Idealist preference) or to exercise their thinking skills (a Rational goal).
Chris Bateman’s DGD1 Model
Even taking introversion and extroversion into account, not everyone fits neatly into one of the four fundamental temperaments. This aspect of reality isn’t well described by the four-fold Bartle or Keirsey typologies. Some people feel equally drawn to Internals and Externals, or to Change and Structure.
The book 21st-Century Game Design, edited by Christopher Bateman, explores a “demographic game design” model (DGD1) of gameplay preferences that I believe forms a useful counterpoint to the Keirsey/Bartle model of general personality. Rather than matching each of the types and temperaments, the Bateman play styles appear to be secondary styles that fill in the gaps between the primary play styles.
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. The following diagram shows this overlaid relationship:
Unified Model, Keirsey-Bartle Diagram with Bateman DGD1 Model Overlaid
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 DGD1 model fills in the gaps between the Bartle Types. A gamer who knows that his preferred style of play is balanced between exploration and achievement, or a combination of Strategic (Rational) and Logistic (Guardian) play, who was told he “didn’t fit” the Bartle model, can now understand himself to be representative of the Conqueror play style as described by the interstitial DGD1 model. Rather than invalidating the Bartle Types, the DGD1 model deepens and refines that model of play styles, leading to the merged Keirsey/Bartle/Bateman model whose structure is shown in the diagram above.
Note: Following the publication of 21st-Century Game Design, a questionnaire for a DGD2 model was developed and added to the iHobo site. Drawing from lessons learned with the Myers-Briggs-based DGG1 model, the DGD2 model was built more explicitly around the four temperaments described by Keirsey. Rather than breaking or changing the play style model developed for DGD1, the application of concepts from Keirsey’s temperament theory appeared to sharpen the DGD-based Conqueror, Manager, Wanderer and Participant styles as complementary to the four Keirsey temperaments (and thus the four Bartle Types as well). (A subsequent model, BrainHex, follows a six-pattern typology.)
The Unified Model
As I explored the literature on player styles and models of gameplay, I was surprised to see how many of these other models proposed three or four categories. Even more remarkably, in many cases the descriptions given by the various authors for each of their categories sounded very much like the descriptions of the core play styles in the Keirsey/Bartle model.
As a result, the second major assertion I’m making in this article is that not only are the four Bartle Types a play-context subset of the four general Keirsey Temperaments, there are numerous other well-known models of play and game design that are also variations on the exact same set of four fundamental personality styles.
It’s important to acknowledge that there are other models of personality and play that do not appear to be variations on the same four essential styles. I understand that; I have no interest in trying to stuff every personality model I see into this one. As an experienced designer of systems, I’m very aware of the danger of seeing every phenomenon as a confirming instance of one’s pet theory. I’ve done my best to avoid that error by identifying as a facet of the Unified Model only those systems for which multiple elements appear to align closely with the other systems in the model.
This chart presents the basic concepts of each play style or personality model using words their creators selected as being generally representative of each worldview.
It’s intended to be an at-a-glance representation of the associations between styles of play and layered models of game design. It also references three general models of personality in functional group situations (usually the office or workplace), as well as three ways in which I’ve tried to boil down the four perspectives to their essential meanings.
Caillois and Lazzaro Meet Keirsey and Bartle
The first portion of the Unified Model chart links Keirsey’s general theory of human temperament to descriptions of the four primary styles of play given by Richard Bartle, Roger Caillois, and Nicole Lazzaro.
Note: Although Roger Caillois indicated that he did not consider the four styles he described to be a complete taxonomy, I respectfully suggest that he was closer to creating a good one than he knew. Along with his concepts of paidia and ludus, these six foci complete the “gaps” between the four core styles observed by others (as noted in the Unified Model). I therefore consider his observed styles to be part of that model, but the reader is welcome to disagree.
Caillois uses the term ilinx to describe the fun of “vertigo,” the adrenaline rush from pushing physical boundaries, which aligns to the sensation-seeking motivation that both Bartle and Keirsey describe for the Killer and Artisan styles, respectively.
Lazzaro’s “serious” or “visceral” fun (one of the four core emotional styles she identifies in her cluster analysis of emotional responses to gameplay situations) is also described as sensation-seeking — in particular, as seeking the feelings of excitement and relaxation that are the gut-level rewards for active play. Again, this aligns very closely with the pleasure the Artisan/Killer feels in the skillful manipulation of tools or people (External Change).
Both the ag?n of Caillois and the “hard fun” of Lazzaro are conceptually very close to the security-seeking motivations of Bartle’s Achiever and Keirsey’s Guardian.
Ag?n and hard fun are both about trying to obtain tangible, extrinsic rewards within the rules of a competitive game. This is the well-documented pattern of the
Achiever/Guardian, who lives life believing that it is necessary and right for the world to be well ordered and that the amount one wins should be directly
proportional to the amount of effort one puts into following the rules.
Caillois explicitly links mimesis to “simulation,” or the active construction of secondary realities. This is the hallmark of the creative Rational/Explorer. To a Rational, the fun of discovering or building new worlds is in mapping their unique characteristics through exploration, thereby enabling the comprehension of the internal structure of that new world. The Rational/Explorer interest in mimesis is thus associated with Lazzaro’s “easy fun,” which describes the distinct gamer preference for immersion in the world of the play experience.
Caillois describes the fourth mode of play, alea, as based on randomness and chance, imposing fairness on every player by making every outcome depend on the roll of a die or the turn of a card. This feels right to the Idealist/Socializer player, for whom the rules of the game may be nearly irrelevant and in which chance is acceptable or even necessary to evenly distribute outcomes. Rules are merely artifacts that enable interaction with other people (human or NPC). This aligns neatly with Lazzaro’s formulation of “people fun,” wherein the game world is treated not as a tool to be used, a challenge to be overcome, or a system to be understood, but as a social setting within which people can enjoy meaningful relationships with each other.
GNS+ and MDA+
In addition to these play style models there are two important models of game design that appear conceptually related to the Keirsey temperaments: the Gamist/Narrativist/Simulationist (GNS) model of game design originally conceived (though later deprecated) by Ron Edwards and the Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics (MDA) framework described by Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek .
The three-style GNS model aligns closely with three of the Keirsey/Bartle styles. The Gamist design style, which focuses on the mechanics or rules of play of a game, clearly matches the rules-oriented, competitive, hard fun-seeking Guardian/Achiever style. Similarly, Rational/Explorers are most likely to be drawn to the Simulationist design style that delights in the building of and immersion in complex and logically consistent worlds. And the human-centric, “people fun” storytelling impulses of Idealist/Socializers will usually be expressed as a focus on Narrativism as the primary means of making a game fun.
This leaves undescribed the preference for raw sensation. A fourth design style, which I’ve given the ungainly name of Experientialist, would emphasize play features that generate intense experiences — the definition of the sensation-seeking Artisan/Killer. If this Experientialist style is recognized as a valid game design interest along with Gamist, Narrativist, and Simulationist, then we have what might be called a GNS+ model that aligns completely with the Keirsey/Bartle and related models of play.
Adding this style to the GNS model is not an unsupported stretch on my part just to force GNS into the Keirsey/Bartle model. The Experientialist preference closely resembles the “Butt-Kicker” player type in the play style model suggested by Robin Laws. Enjoying play for its intense experiences is also directly analogous to the enjoyment of “vertigo” described by Caillois as a function of the desire for ilinx.
Something like this also applies to the MDA game design model. As with the GNS+ model described above, the MDA model seems to lack only a bottom-level design focus on the direct appreciation of action, which considers the gut-level sensations a game designer wants to elicit from players. I’ve suggested “Kinetics” as a name for this fourth style in what could be called the MDA+ model, where Kinetics once again aligns with Caillois’s ilinx preference for finding pleasure in action-oriented play.
(It’s interesting that the original GNS and MDA models both lack concepts describing play as a means of generating intense sensations.)
As with the original GNS model, the three layers of the MDA model align with play styles and personality types as described in the Unified Model chart. Mechanics, as the rules governing player actions, are the topic of choice for Guardian/Achievers who naturally take a Gamist approach to design. That’s where you find the answers for the ever-practical, “Yeah, but what do you actually do in the game?” question. Dynamics are of most interest to the Simulationist Rational/Explorer, who can’t help but focus on the functional behaviors of the game world that give it a unique life as a secondary reality. And the Idealist/Socializer, always operating according to an ideal vision for people, is most able to quickly grasp whether a particular game satisfies the Aesthetic requirements — does the game feel right?
With the theory explained, we’re now ready to look at practical uses for the Unified Model.
The Unified Model Explains Existing Games
An effective model should be able to explain how particular games satisfy particular play style interests. A good place to start is with popular first person shooter (FPS) games such as the Call of Duty or Battlefield franchises. These games feature high levels of graphical realism, a need for fast-paced tactical action in high-stress scenarios, real-world manual dexterity requirements, “whoa!” moments, clearly marked linear paths, vertigo-inducing set pieces, collectible achievements/trophies, and (in multiplayer mode) intense competition, role-based cooperation, and status markers on public leaderboards. All of these features are associated with externalities, and most are about directly physical experiences as opposed to abstract internal qualities such as thinking or feeling.
In a first person shooter, the high-speed, adrenaline-pumping tactical action for its own sake is aimed squarely at the externals-oriented Artisan/Killer play style preference. The externals-oriented Guardian/Achiever preference is addressed with clearly spelled-out operational rules, and with in-game intel items and achievements to collect as gameplay that gives purpose to the action. To the extent that a game emphasizes both of these elements to a high level of quality, that game will be embraced by Artisan/Killers and Guardian/Achievers. This combination lines up with the Casual mode of play in Chris Bateman’s DGD1 model. This might sound odd — the gameplay in pure FPS games is usually very intense — but it fits the concept of “casual” play as Bateman describes it, where there’s little emotional investment in the game world, players can drop-in/drop-out easily, the subject matter is concrete and easily relatable to well-understood phenomena, and the appeal is to a mass market.
Occupying the exact opposite position on the chart of play styles from real-time action/competition games would be adventure games such as Myst and The Longest Journey and creative games such as Minecraft or turn-based strategy games such as Civilization. These games, whose internal-oriented features emphasize both the story and puzzle play style preferences associated with feeling and thinking, are mirror images of external-oriented first-person shooter games that emphasize action and competitive accumulation. It’s reasonable to expect that most gamers who strongly prefer FPS games would be bored by adventure games, while most self-described adventure gamers find the typical FPS unsatisfying. This is precisely what the Unified Model would predict based on play style analysis, with Hardcore (story/puzzle) and Casual (action/loot) preferences on opposite sides of the Keirsey/Bartle/Bateman diagram.
If the Unified Model has validity, then it should also be able to explain the appeal of a “surprise” hit game like Minecraft. Still in beta at this writing, Minecraft has already earned the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars for its developer by emphasizing two play styles: creative exploration and exciting survival. While mapping cave systems or building structures (both highly discovery-focused activities), the player’s character may suddenly be attacked by hostile creatures. This generates the intense fight-or-flight reaction prized by Killers, who also enjoy the tangible (if virtual) sensations of destroying blocks, jumping from heights, and possibly falling (or being pushed!) into deadly lava.
The conjunction of the Rational/Explorer and Artisan/Killer play preferences corresponds to the Strategic/Tactical “Manager” play style of Chris Bateman’s DGD1 model.
Bateman describes the Manager style as being preferred by “a complexity-seeking player” who “can rack up serious hours on the games they really love,” and whose style is “associated with mastery and systems.” That neatly sums up Minecraft’s intense appeal to a specific subset of gamers who viscerally love opportunities to remake the game world to their own designs.
(It’s interesting to note that Minecraft’s primary designer has added achievements to the game, with an “adventure update” soon to be released. These new features should make Minecraft more appealing to Guardian/Achievers, who currently complain that Minecraft’s highly non-directed gameplay is — from their perspective — boring and hard to get into. Whether Minecraft can retain its Explorer-Killer focus after adding features that attract a host of highly vocal Achievers is a question worth exploring.)
Here’s a quick listing of where various game genres fit into the Unified Model:
One other possibility afforded by the Unified Model is to identify an individual’s natural play style through the games they report playing. This can work to the degree that individuals are invested in the “gamer” culture. The more they actively make playing new games a part of their lifestyle, the more accurately the play-focused Unified Model will predict their general personality style.
On the other hand, predictive accuracy can be extremely poor when trying to assess the personality style of someone who plays only a few light and generally popular games such as Solitaire. In this case, no model will be of much help since there’s just not enough information to work from. The emphasis of the Bartle Types on social players of multi-user games can also make those styles difficult to apply to someone who prefers single-player games.
Another possibility is that the individual’s choice of games to play may not fit neatly into one of the four major groupings. In this case, consider that they may play as one of the four types described by Christopher Bateman’s DGD1 model, where each type is a combination of two of the primary styles from the basic Keirsey/Bartle model.
In all these cases, the more games someone plays — they more they are immersed in the gamer culture — the more accurate the Unified Model can be in identifying their preferred personality style from the games they play. And the opposite is true as well: the fewer games someone plays, the less effective the Unified Model can be in identifying their natural personality style. This is not a deficiency in the Unified Model; it’s simply a lack of categorical information for the model to work with.
The Unified Model Helps Design New Games
The Unified Model by itself doesn’t talk about particular gameplay features. But it is possible to link gameplay features to specific play style preferences — different activities distinctively satisfy different needs. This allows designers to judge the fitness of various feature possibilities for a particular design goal.
Here’s a short list of representative gameplay features organized by play style:
UNIFIED Play Style ASSOCIATED GAMEPLAY FEATURES
Artisan/Killer/Experientialist action, vertigo, tool-use, vehicle use, horror, gambling, speedruns, exploits
competition, collections, manufacturing, high scores, levels, clear objectives, guild membership, min-maxing
Rational/Explorer/Simulationist puzzles, creative building, world-lore, systems analysis, theorizing, surprise
Idealist/Socializer/Narrativist chatting, roleplaying, storytelling, cooperation, decorating, pets, social events
Let’s say you’ve been tasked with designing a game that’s “exciting” and has “lots of rewards.” From the chart above, you can see that “exciting” corresponds to the Artisan/Killer style, and “rewards” clearly describes the Guardian/Achiever preference. What you want, then, are gameplay elements that hit on both of those cylinders if possible, but on at least one or the other of them for sure.
So a satisfying concept for this game might be some form of arcade-style racing. This provides a highly physical environment where the player can directly manipulate a vehicle in a few very specific ways (but to a high degree of virtuosity) in order to be rewarded frequently. Making this the game’s core mechanic emphasizes both intense manipulative action and the satisfaction of simple, clear goals with collectible rewards, all of which speak directly to the two play style goals.
Highly physical and object-rich action games that satisfy Artisan/Killer and Guardian/Achiever desires are fairly common, though. So a stronger test of the Unified Model’s constructive power might be to consider combinations of play styles that aren’t often seen.
What about a game world that merges the Internal Change goal of Idealist/Socializers with the External Change desire of Artisan/Killers? (This would correspond to the “Wanderer” play style from Chris Bateman’s DGD1 model.) Such a game, without the Simulationist or Gamist structures preferred by Rational/Explorers and Guardian/Achievers, would likely appear to be a chaotic circus, a highly social environment where crazy things happen without warning. (Actually, this sounds very much like Second Life, doesn’t it? Could something like this work as a single-player game? What about as a Facebook game?)
Another unusual kind of game to create would merge the generally opposing preferences of Guardian/Achievers and Idealist/Socializers. (The corresponding merged type would be the “Participant” play style from the DGD1 model.) To build fully on its unique qualities, such a game would need to be designed to emphasize gameplay features focusing on the rule-based generation of social relationships and behaviors. This is gameplay that Achievers could appreciate for the interpersonal stability and “social leveling-up,” and which Socializers might enjoy as a powerful tool for creating stories about people. (Again, though, perhaps such a game already exists — isn’t this is exactly the play style combination provided almost uniquely by The Sims? Is there any way to make a Participant-style game that doesn’t seem to be a clone of The Sims?)
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.
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 three-fold models.
篇目2，Five Ways Games Appeal to Players
I once happened upon my brothers attempting to fly an SUV off a cliff. This was years ago, when Grand Theft Auto III was still new, but it was already easy enough to search online for the cheat code to make cars fly. After about an hour of trying to glide across a river and into a football stadium, they finally cleared the edge of the wall, landed the car inside, and broke into proud laughter upon discovering the Easter egg inside: an image of fans spelling out the name of Liberty City’s football team: “COCKS”.
I often think back on this when I read various theories on why we find games “fun.” Some of the most popular theories of engagement come down to offering an optimal level of challenge, establishing a pleasant “flow” state. Surely there was something like that going on here, but there was also so much more, from the thrill of intentionally messing with the laws of physics to the naughty humor in the final payoff.
Theories that account for a range of different types of players, meanwhile, have been useful in considering that games affect us on more levels than simply how challenging they are.
In the process of trying to simplify and codify how people think, however, these theories have trouble accounting for how a game can affect a person in different ways and in different contexts, or how to address appeals of games that don’t fit quite as neatly into a carefully-structured model.
In this article, then, I offer five general categories of appeal (hence, “appeals”) describing a host of different — but not necessarily mutually exclusive — ways that we engage with games.
This framework of appeals has been developed through research conducted between 2008 and 2011, including discourse analysis of online sources (e.g., collecting examples from public forum discussions and blog comments; see “‘You are dead. Continue?’”) and participant-observation ethnographic research (e.g., playing games with people in arcades; see “Arcadian Rhythms”).
The appeals I’ll offer aren’t necessarily all “good” appeals — this framework includes ways that games engage players that some designers have criticized as little more than manipulation — but they may offer some broad ways to describe what makes games tick, and how to blend different kinds of appeals to encourage or even discourage different kinds of engagement.
Types of Players vs. Types of Appeals
I describe this theory quite purposely in terms of the characteristics of games and play instead of the characteristics of players themselves. Models of player personality and demographics are very attractive in their elegant simplicity, whether you’re talking about the common-knowledge distinction between “casual” and “hardcore” or more scientific approaches drawing on social psychology. (See Bart Stewart’s relatively recent Gamasutra feature for one such robust approach.)
Nevertheless, it may be more productive to describe engagement with games according to a variety of approaches to play itself, for at least three major reasons.
First, theories of “player types” often don’t easily match up with empirical and anecdotal evidence of how people actually play games. We can display different “personalities” between different games, or even within a single game that offers a variety of different mechanics.
Take, for instance, the anecdote that began this article, in which my brothers continually flew a car off a cliff. What type of players are my brothers in this example — say, in terms of Bartle’s types?
Are they explorers, fiddling with the game systems and investigating its world? A large part of the reason they were attempting to get into that stadium was indeed that they wanted to know whether the game logic would allow them, and they wanted to discover whatever might be inside.
Are they achievers, looking to beat a rules-based challenge? It was a challenge of their own making, but they still had a distinct end condition, and even a sort of in-game reward in the Easter egg.
Are they socializers, playing side by side, telling a story together through their play? Certainly, playing cooperatively and sharing a laugh had something to do with the appeal.
Are they killers, going out of their way to subvert the rules of the game? They couldn’t have played this way at all if it weren’t for the fact that they entered a cheat code.
Does it change our answer if we find out that they also played the game separately from one another on other occasions, each following the rules and paying attention to the plot? Or does it change our answer if we find out that they approach other games completely differently — say, eschewing any “cheating” or exploration in competitive sports games?
To be fair, Bartle originally suggested this typology not to describe all game players, but to describe MUD players. He even makes the point that three kinds of players aren’t treating the MUD as a “game” at all, but as “pastime,” “sport,” and “entertainment,” and acknowledges that “most players leaned at least a little to all four [types], but tended to have some particular overall preference.”
The fact that game critics and designers have applied this typology more broadly may reflect an admirably progressive willingness to broaden our understanding of what a “game” can be, but it also extends this particular model well beyond the claims of the original 30-person study that brought it about.
My goal with this thought exercise, then, is to illustrate the problem with focusing on a small group of players or a single genre. Players exhibit different preferences and behaviors with different games or in different social contexts, which makes it problematic to claim that anything so fixed as personality or an inherent “type” is at the root of enjoyment. My brothers played the way they did not just because of who they were, but because of the context of the situation: Each was sharing the game with another player he knew very well, and they were playing a game whose design allowed them to play it in multiple ways.
This brings me to the second major issue with describing how we engage with games based on types of players instead of types of behaviors. By suggesting that we design games around categories of players, we run the risk of reifying our own top-down notions of what the player base is like.
This risk could be as innocuous as simply missing out on audiences that we didn’t know existed — a segment of players that requires more nuance to understand than “hardcore” or “casual,” perhaps, or that can’t be defined as any of killers, achievers, explorers, or socializers. More problematic, however, designing games with player typologies in mind opens the doorway to reinforce stereotypes of which games different people “should” be playing, and which play styles are more valid than others.
In his original article, Bartle didn’t have much good to say about the “killers”; they were basically the Slytherin of player types, a category for those who don’t play well with others. Bart Stewart’s Unified Model goes some way toward legitimizing their activities as a valid play style that most games simply aren’t designed to accommodate, but the fact remains that the original typology was constructed in such a way that essentially demonizes a segment of players. In the meantime, releases like Gears of War have demonstrated that there’s a market for games that explicitly encourage “killer” play styles, such as by offering brutal and demoralizing ways to dispatch with opponents.
Even more problematic than missing out on audiences, however, is to unintentionally exclude audiences by assuming that certain games are only for certain “types” of players. This risk is probably less in overt categorizations than in implicit or easily inferred connections, like the common assumption that women are more likely to be “casual” gamers, and less interested in games like fast-paced, first person shooters.
To be fair, some studies have indeed observed different preferences between different demographics, and some have even attempted to explain such differences — say, in terms of innate, cognitive differences between men and women (e.g., see John Sherry’s “Flow and Media Enjoyment” [pdf link]). Again, however, it’s important to consider the huge role that context can play in terms of what people will feel comfortable engaging in — or, to put it another way, what they’ll even bother to try.
Consider a study by Diane Carr, for instance, which found that when girls were given the chance to regularly play whatever games they wanted in a comfortable, non-judgmental atmosphere, expectations from both stereotypes and other empirical evidence practically disappeared. Yes, men might have a slight neuropsychological edge at navigating a 3D maze in a first person shooter, but that’s probably not what’s keeping more women from playing. The fact that a game is popularly considered more “meant for” some audiences than others is worth considering as a factor in who chooses to play, rather than who would be capable of enjoying it.
From the standpoint of simply designing more engaging games, however, the greatest reason I see for thinking in terms of “game appeals” is that it’s a lot easier to contemplate how to blend different appeals than different personalities. Through design, we can make room for a number of different ways to enjoy a game, or we can purposefully pare down the number of appeals a game offers so that they don’t conflict with one another in unintentional ways. Before I offer some more specific examples of how to think about this, however, I’d like to suggest what I see as some useful categories to think about appeals.
Five Categories of Appeals
Researchers, critics, and designers have suggested a lot of ways to analyze the ways that games can engage players. Why throw in one more? Partly, I offer this approach to validate some excellent ideas suggested by others, backed up with additional research. In addition, however, I offer this approach to fill some gaps that may not be discussed on a widespread level yet. And finally, so much of the research and theory on how we engage with games either focuses very specifically on challenge, or defines engagement with games in terms of “fun”.
Given that recent years have seen an explosion in popular games that are not at all challenging, and a quieter expansion in “serious” games that provoke thought more than provide amusement, it seems a good time to draw attention to broader concepts of how we play.
I do, of course, intend to follow the grand academic tradition of borrowing wholeheartedly from my favorite theories. Bart Stewart’s Unified Model is especially useful in recognizing that certain player behaviors represent legitimate styles of play that designs can purposely accommodate; “griefing” isn’t necessarily just for jerks, but something that can be built into a game to appeal to certain needs and interests.
Mitch Krpata’s New Taxonomy of Gamers offers some usefully fine-tuned distinctions between different kinds of challenge, immersion, and recreation. Michael Abbott’s Fun Factor Catalog offers a data-based set of appeals, but without much rigorous, systematic organization to date (as it is still a work in progress).
Hunicke, LeBlanc, and Zubek’s MDA [pdf link] (Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics) approach, meanwhile, offers perhaps the most comprehensive range of ways that players engage with games, but leaves some aspects relatively unexplored. Few theoretical approaches even recognize “submission” as a reason people play games — so what does it look like?
Consider here, then, five categories of game appeals:
Accomplishment: Appeals involving extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.
Imagination: Appeals involving pretending and storytelling.
Socialization: Appeals involving friendly social interaction.
Recreation: Appeals for adjusting physical, mental, or emotional state.
Subversion: Appeals involving breaking social or technical rules.
Though my own research has focused primarily on video games, I’ve noticed that many of these appeals may be equally effectively applied to analysis of how other sorts of games are designed, as well. I’ll suggest a few specific appeals for each category, but there is likely room for more.
Accomplishment refers to the rewarding feelings that come from “winning” or otherwise succeeding at a game. Related appeals include completion (finishing a game, getting all the trophies/achievements/unlockable content), perfection (improving one’s skills at the game), domination (besting other players), fortune (earning a reward through chance), and construction (using a game to create art or objects).
I take a cue from Mitch Krpata here in making a distinction between completion and perfection. As I found in my own research, completion is what inspires players to earn every Achievement in Halo 3, but perfection is what inspires them to achieve the highest multiplayer ranking possible. Domination is also a factor in the latter, but a player can find satisfaction in defeating other players even if she isn’t necessarily improving her skills (as even expert players sometimes take pleasure in crushing poorly matched opponents).
Note, however, that accomplishment doesn’t necessarily only include mastering a game through one’s own skill, but simply winning at it. Players still find something appealing in lining up three cherries on a casino slot machine, or harvesting all their crops on time in FarmVille, even if there was no actual skill involved in the “win”. This is why I add an additional appeal for fortune, representing a sense of accomplishment through no actual ability, or perhaps even any effort.
After describing all of these appeals, it may seem odd to group construction — an expressive act — alongside more traditional concepts of “winning.” I include this here, however, because acts of creativity in games are similarly goal-oriented, and often accompanied by external indicators of success or failure (such as appreciative comments by forum-goers looking upon your screen shots).
Whether the end result is a mosaic of the Mona Lisa rendered in FarmVille crops, an especially attractive Skyrim character, or an exquisitely-constructed palace in Minecraft, construction offers a sense of user-definable accomplishment all its own; what the game contributes is a platform that makes this possible.
Imagination refers to practices of pretend, with particular regard to storytelling and simulation. Related appeals include spectatorship (“watching” stories), directorship (“making” stories), roleplaying (pretending to take on another kind of identity), and exploration (pretending to exist within a pretend landscape).
Different games emphasize different imagination appeals to varying extents. Skyrim, for instance, has a heavy emphasis on directorship and exploration. Go on any Skyrim forum online, and you’ll find plenty of players sharing detailed stories of their adventures and the unexpected things they encountered, each different from the others. There’s room for roleplaying — many players generate quite a bit of back story and additional context for their characters — but the game itself doesn’t really ask players to do this, at least not directly.
In contrast, Mass Effect offers less in the way of exploration, giving players a more linear path to explore, but it more directly guides roleplaying and focuses more on spectatorship, with cinematic cutscenes and clearly defined personality options for the protagonist. Players still have a sense of directorship, discussing on their own forums how they made different choices and told different stories, but the range of narratives is narrower because the game is written to more resemble Hollywood storytelling techniques. Gears of War, meanwhile, offers no opportunity for directorship in its campaign mode, but through dialog, cutscenes, and music, still offers opportunities for spectatorship.
I also humbly posit that spectatorship should include not just engaging with the story of a game you’re playing, but engaging with the story of a game you’re watching someone else play. This refers not only to players I’ve spoken with in the course of my research who make their spouses buy certain games so they can watch somebody else play through for the story, but also to the many thousands of spectators of professional sports at stadiums and in front of televisions. Though “winning” plays a part in people’s enjoyment of such games, the unfolding drama of a game in progress, with an uncertain end, can appeal to both players and spectators alike.
Socialization refers to the various ways that players use games to connect with one another on an interpersonal level. Related appeals include conversation (through game chat during play, or made possible through in-game messaging), cooperation (supporting and helping one another during play), and generosity (helpful behavior in a more one-way direction, like giving gifts or helping a low-level player advance more quickly).
You could, of course, argue that socialization is an appeal of any entertainment medium, from discussing favorite books with a friend to attending a movie in a crowd. Games, however, can be (and often are) specifically designed to encourage particular kinds of socialization over others.
Rock Band, for instance, is fun in groups not just because multiple people can play at the same time, but because it actively fosters a sense of cooperation: Players rely on one another and can help each other. If one player does poorly, the song could end for everyone, so other players must be mindful about when to save floundering teammates by triggering “Overdrive” mode.
Many team-based action games also rely on conversation between teammates not just to chat about how your day went (though players use games as a social gathering for just that purpose), but also to share tactical information and plan group actions against opponents.
Less formally explored, however, are more one-way generosity mechanics — helping out players without necessarily receiving a reward for oneself. That may sound like it would be a contradiction in terms: Once you design a system that recognizes one player helping another, doesn’t that necessarily imply a reward for the charitable player, making this more appropriately described as cooperation? I’d argue that this isn’t always the case, but such a system may have yet to be designed in a truly satisfying way.
FarmVille, for instance, does allow for cooperation-free generosity by giving players the option to send one another gifts at no cost. One could ask for reciprocity (and players often do), but some players happily use this feature simply because they enjoy giving gifts to others.
Unfortunately, the system is designed better as a marketing tool than as an appeal because the result is often unwanted Facebook messages notifying players’ friends that they have a “gift” waiting in a game they don’t play. Some MMORPGs also offer formalized “mentor systems” (see Shadow Cities or Final Fantasy XI), suggesting that there is room to actually design for such appeals, though this is more typically arranged by players through less formalized means.
Recreation refers to processes of renewal and pastime, which typically means using a game to adjust one’s psychological or psychological state. Related appeals include mood-management (toward relaxation, elation, amusement, or other emotions), distraction (actively avoiding thinking of painful or difficult stimuli), contemplation (pondering thought-provoking issues), and exertion (getting physically energized through play).
The broadest of these appeals is mood-management. I offer this as a single appeal, rather than offering each type of mood-management as its own appeal (relaxation, amusement, excitement, etc.), not only because that list would quickly get unreasonably long, but to make a distinction between appeals as play-behaviors and emotional states as their end result.
That said, it’s worth making note that mood-management encompasses a great many more states than “having fun.” flOw, a slow-moving, soothing game, was specifically designed to show how games might encourage relaxation rather than elation. Shadow of the Colossus and Final Fantasy VII have received praise for sometimes effectively encouraging sadness over happiness. Players choose different games based on context, depending on their company and their preferred mood.
Contemplation is a related appeal, perhaps even part of mood management. Passage, for instance, is a short game with subtle implications rather than an obvious goal for “fun.” It’s a game that is calculated to make you think, rather than to make you enjoy yourself. Distraction is another related appeal, and one that may not sound very worthwhile, given that it can be taken to refer to shutting out other responsibilities that need to be dealt with (as with compulsive gambling, for instance). Even so, distraction is at the heart of why games make such excellent therapeutic tools in hospitals, effectively acting as non-medicating pain-reducers.
One of the main reasons I think it’s important to give recreation its own category is that it includes the main appeals that have skyrocketed many so-called “casual” games to success, from Facebook and mobile “social games” to motion-control games on the Wii and other systems. Regardless of whether critics or designers find their tactics to be nothing more than extortion, the success of skill-free games like FarmVille and Tiny Tower should suggest that these games are giving players something that they want.
Rather than lamenting that players are unfortunate dupes, it’s worth considering that maybe players are getting precisely what they want from these games, at a price players are willing to pay. And while many traditional gamers lament that Wii “shovelware” games do little to scratch the surface of what motion control technologies could do, it has done little to slow sales of the system. Even the least thoughtfully-designed Wii game might offer some opportunity for pleasant physical exertion in the hands of someone eager to cut loose in the living room.
Subversion refers to behaviors that run counter to norms and expectations, as defined by society and game logic alike. Related appeals include provocation (actively antagonizing other players through “inappropriate” behavior), disruption (breaking game logic and exploiting glitches), and transgression (“playing evil”, such as killing friendly NPCs).
I group these appeals because each involves breaking some kind of rule. Provocation involves breaking implicitly agreed-upon social norms about how people are expected to act in games and in polite interaction. Disruption involves breaking rules hard-coded into the game — and, if you use those rules to your advantage in a multiplayer game, breaking the aforementioned social contract of “fair” play.
Transgression is generally considered the least offensive of these, as the rules broken are broader cultural norms, and generally permitted by fellow players and game rules. Nevertheless, I group this sort of transgression along with the other subversion appeals because the root of enjoyment behind this activity is, as more than one person said in the course of my research, “being a dick”. The basic appeal of each of these activities revolves around doing something you know you’re not supposed to be doing.
I give these attention as valid appeals, rather than dismissing them as griefing, glitching, and cheating, simply because so many players enjoy doing this sort of thing that it may be helpful to avoid thinking of it as a deviant behavior. (For a comprehensive account, see Mia Consalvo’s book, Cheating.) How can designers account for this appeal?
The most obvious answer, of course, is that actually accounting for subversion neuters it entirely. How can you encourage rule-breaking and also leave the thrill of breaking the rules? That doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story, however. Designing a path for “evil” play is one way to offer a transgression appeal: In Fallout 3, for instance, the player breaks no game-logic rules by sharing a friendly meal with cannibalistic murderers or by selling a small child into slavery, but still gets to enjoy bucking traditional narrative expectations and social norms.
Designers can even formalize provocation in a game where copping an attitude might be an expectation of the community: The aforementioned player-on-player brutality of Gears of War (with the option to punch an opponent’s face for several seconds even after you’ve beaten them) might arguably be called a formalized approach to griefing. These offer ways to break the rules of normal social conduct without breaking the rules of the game.
Admittedly, it’s trickier to suggest ways to encourage players to actually break the game rules without running the risk of actually destroying the game (or at least crashing multiplayer servers). Cheat codes and Easter eggs offer a sort of sanctioned subversion — breaking game rules on a controllable scale.
Could we imagine a game that even more purposely encourages this sort of appeal — say, a Matrix-style science-fiction game where glitching actually makes sense in the context of the game world, and interesting glitches get formalized as part of the game rules? I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one in charge of making sure the game doesn’t fall apart as players scramble to find ways to do just that, but it would be interesting to see some developer try something like it. For now, subversion may represent the most unexplored category of appeals to date.
Complements and Conflicts Between Appeals
Reading over these appeals, you may notice that they aren’t at all mutually exclusive — and, in fact, that’s entirely the point. This allows us to discuss the many ways in which they intersect for good and ill, and how to design games to capitalize on these intersections.
Finding and exploiting a game’s glitches, for instance, offers subversion-related appeals in breaking the rules, but it may also offer accomplishment-related appeals in giving oneself an edge against opponents, or even just in uncovering the secrets of the game system. Playing Dance Dance Revolution offers accomplishment-related appeals in achieving a high score on difficult songs, socialization appeals in dancing alongside other players, and recreation appeals through physical exertion.
Different game appeals sometimes map to different game mechanics, but they don’t have to. A game can offer imagination appeals entirely separately from accomplishment appeals by having narrative cutscenes that feel completely irrelevant to player input, but it could also blend imagination and accomplishment by making dialog interactive, even challenging.
Dialog scenes in Mass Effect 2, for instance, offer an appeal of directorship by allowing the player to choose how to respond, but there’s not much room for a the appeal of perfecting one’s skills; some responses yield objectively better results than others, but the best responses are clearly color-coded, and generally achievable so long as you choose consistently “good-guy” or consistently “bad-guy” responses.
In contrast, dialog scenes in games like L.A. Noire and Deus Ex: Human Revolution add an additional layer of challenge by requiring the player to gauge characters’ facial expressions and body language in choosing the most effective responses.
No less important than blending appeals, of course, is anticipating how different appeals might conflict with one another. This offers designers an opportunity to prioritize features, or offer additional context for features, based on the appeals they most want to encourage. As I described in an article in Eludamos, for instance, “dying” in a game is usually hugely disruptive to storytelling, but it’s typically considered an appropriate way to make players feel they have something at stake in failure.
In other words, it’s a traditionally-accepted concession to accomplishment appeals at the cost of imagination appeals. Some games do, however, anticipate this conflict and attempt to compensate for it, such as by explaining away death through narrative means — reviving as a clone in BioShock, or finding out that the death was a mistake by an unreliable narrator in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
A more dramatic approach is to completely exclude certain features to ensure that the appeals you most want to encourage are most salient. Consider, for example, how game designers might deal with the potential conflict between imagination appeals and socialization appeals. A cooperative, multiplayer campaign like in Borderlands or Gears of War offers opportunities for socialization with friends, and may even help make challenges more manageable — but these appeals may come at the cost of imagination if your friends have a tendency to chat over cutscenes.
Demon’s Souls also features cooperative and competitive multiplayer mechanics, but it prioritizes imagination appeals (like being drawn into a tense atmosphere) over socialization appeals (like chatting with friends). You can’t communicate directly with other players through voice chat, but only interact with them as ephemeral ghosts or indirectly, by leaving brief messages written on the ground. By forcibly isolating players in their own dangerous worlds, the result is arguably much more thematically and stylistically consistent than it could have been with a voice chat function.
While it won’t always be obvious which appeals are likely to conflict and why, describing game features according to this approach does at least offer a means to critique what has worked and what hasn’t worked in existing games. And by considering all of these appeals on even standing, it’s my hope that we might see more games that experiment with prioritizing some of the least widely utilized appeals, for the sake of innovation, exploration, and — if I may be permitted to say so — fun.
This theory of game appeals represents an attempt to cover a lot of ground. That said, I see this not as an all-encompassing, universal taxonomy, but as a starting point for a way of thinking about games that sees potential value in a broader range of design approaches.
Moreover, I also see plenty of room for additional appeals, or for taxonomical reshuffling as further research recommends. Do skill-free “social games” have more complex workings than I give them credit for by only describing their appeals in terms of recreation and chance accomplishment? Do motion-controlled games like those on the Wii and the Kinect — or athletic sports, for that matter — deserve an entire category separate from recreation, breaking kinesthetic activity into more varied and nuanced appeals? I would have loved to have investigated such questions myself more fully, but I’m hoping others will suggest how to fill in the gaps.
Beyond being a mere theoretical exercise, however, I also hope that these discussions can lead us to designing an even broader variety of thoughtful and innovative games. When designers and developers define games as obstacle courses whose primary purpose is to elicit “fun,” we miss out on other kinds of engagement and experience. And when we describe players as if they could be so easily fit into a small handful of categories themselves, not only do we forget that we can intrigue and delight one player on multiple levels, but we run the risk of never reaching the players — or creating the genres — that we have yet to discover.
篇目3，Gamer Personalities: What Type of Gamer Are You?
15 January 2012 Steve Burke
Sometimes, despite the stigma associated with them, it’s fun to figure out which stereotype is linked to our gaming play styles. Besides being sort of fun and self-indulgent, it’s also a fantastic way of figuring out which games you might like and which you’re likely to get bored of rapidly.
You’re focused on achievement and progression; your primary objective is to complete the game’s primary objectives, then its secondary objectives, then all the other content in the game. If it’s a multiplayer game, Completionists often look to show off status and accumulated wealth. If it can be beaten, you beat it; if it can be collected, you collect it. You’re the type of person that will reply an open-ended game multiple times, likely opting to beat it both as “good” and “evil,” or whatever other options are present.
WHY DO I KEEP ACCEPTING THESE?
If it means a better score or exposure to a new adventure path, it is not below you to load and re-load in an effort to locate the best option. You are concerned with seeing all there is to offer and enjoy getting your money’s worth, at times finding yourself obsessive about progression. You’d be the type to play Skyrim in “hardcore mode,” just to see what it’s like. It doesn’t matter whether it’s linear or open-ended, as long as it has a goal.
You most likely would enjoy: RPGs, MMOs, games of challenges.
Games to look into: Morrowind & Skyrim, SWTOR, the Baldur’s Gate series, Neverwinter Nights, Cave Story.
No game is too difficult for you; you research the best strategies, the overpowered approaches, map layout, assault directions, or — if these things bore you — maybe you’re just damn good at killing things, whether or not you analyze your approach. If it can be killed, you kill it, maim it, destroy it, and leave nothing behind. Destroyers enjoy figuring out new and inventive ways to take people out, especially in multiplayer games where skill is shown to all in the server.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a stealth game, an open assault game, or just a multiplayer mash-up like Unreal Tournament and Quake; as long as you can obliterate the competition, you’re happy (and damn good at it). You are most concerned with points and kill-death ratios, if it’s a singleplayer game, you try to get as creative as possible when it comes to vanquishing your foes. You are very competitive, whether or not it’s intentional.
You most likely would enjoy: FPS’s, RTS’s, games of skill.
Games to look into: Counter-Strike: Source, Day of Defeat, Red Orchestra, Company of Heroes, StarCraft 2, Planetside 2, Age of Chivalry, Battlefield 3.
Originality, creativity, and expandability are your most important factors when playing a game. You like to build, innovate, or heavily mod your games. Collecting resources, building cities, and creating content are extremely enjoyable to Creators and supersede killing and objectives; you’d rather spend hours installing mods or building cities than completing objectives. You often show your creations off to all of your friends, whether or not they care. You’re original and take pride in using limited resources in clever ways.
Tolkien would be proud… or horrified.
You do have a weakness, though: you’re concerned with becoming bored and burning out; many times in the past, you’ve found that you just simply stop playing a game or question what the point of the game is.
You most likely would enjoy: Open RPGs, Mod-heavy games, Builders (i.e., Minecraft or city simulators).
Games to look into: MineCraft, the Tycoon series, Terraria, X3: Albion Prelude, Dwarf Fortress, Spore, Hinterland.
You’re of a dying breed in gaming, but you find yourself to be the most strategic and advanced of all the gaming stereotypes. Settling in for the long-haul and strategically expanding your empire is of great importance — Thinkers are focused on making beneficial compromises in effort to maximize your gain and minimize the potential for a future set-back. Solving complex problems, whether puzzles, profitability of a trade route, or paths of assault, is your favorite aspect of gaming. You hate it when games hold your hand and prefer to do it on your own.
You likely enjoy (or would enjoy) tabletop wargames or puzzles in addition to your gaming habits. You’re most concerned with different types of empire building or puzzle solving and will often complete a game multiple times, if only to see the different ways to solve a problem. If you have to, you’ll self-impose problems to make an otherwise thoughtless game interesting.
You most likely would enjoy: Turn-based strategy, some RTS, puzzle games.
Games to look into: The Total War series, Hearts of Iron, Aperatus (mobile devices), Frozen Synapse, SpaceChem, Portal 2.
Unveiling the most expansive, breathtaking environments that the developers had to offer is incredibly important to you; exploring and adventuring are of paramount importance to you. Explorers embark on objective-less journeys to see the most impressive regions of a game. You love the visuals or inhabitant variations and believability of a game world and will even ignore main quests for days-on-end if it means seeing more of the land.
One of many star systems in X3: Albion Prelude.
Explorers are prone to collecting pointless items in games — books, weapons, gadgets — and putting them on display for all to see (even if it’s a singleplayer game). You take pride in the fact that your map, unlike many of your friends, has almost every icon fast-travelable on it; you’ve seen all there is to see. Explorers are proficient at ‘making their own fun’ in a game and are often similar to Creators.
You would most likely enjoy: MMOs, Open RPGs, expansive games.
Games to look into: Morrowind & Skyrim, the X3 series, MineCraft, Trine 2 (incredible visuals), Divinity II, SWTOR, Dwarf Fortress.
“What’s with all this stereotype crap? I just sit down and play whenever I can.” You really don’t think that hard about your games — you play when you can and tend to enjoy non-competitive, low-stress gaming. Casual gamers find themselves playing whatever’s easily available – phone games, social network games, indie games, puzzle games, and often find themselves relatable with Thinkers. You might also find Triple-A games to be problematic, as pointed out here.
It’s not of your concern to kill lots of people, which you find repetitive and frustrating anyway, or complete infinite objectives, or spend days building a castle; you just want something easy that doesn’t take a lot of effort, although you do sometimes find thinking games fun, as long as they’re not brutal.
You would most likely enjoy: Casual games (derp), Puzzle games, platformers, arcade-style.
Games to look into: Audiosurf, Beat Hazard, Droplitz, Scribblenauts, Spectraball, Zombie Driver, Orcs Must Die!.
Games of pure skill, refinement, and speed are the most respectable in your eyes; you love mastering a game and being the best in the high scores tables. If people have complained about how difficult a game is, you’re the one that exclaims: “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” You take it upon yourself to painstakingly figure out the fastest routes, preserve lives, and accumulate points.
There is no platformer too grueling for you, no arcade game worthy of your dedication, and no gamer that comes close to your attention to timing and sequencing. You’re the very same type of person that plays games like StarCraft only for the modded challenges. Challengers will often spend hours on a single level, trying to perfect timings and complete goals with utmost precision. No goal is too hard for you.
You would most likely enjoy: Platformers, arcade-style games.
Games to look into: I Wanna Be The Guy, Silver Surfer (NES), Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV, Bit.Trip Runner, Jamestown, AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, N+.
A unique mix of explorer and destroyer, adventurers love to play for the story and the thrill of the game. They’re the most likely to get immersed for hours at a time, and are captured by compelling stories and fantastical landscapes. Adventurers like to destroy, but only when it’s relevant to the story (or they get bored, but they don’t save if they kill things for no reason). You try to see as much as there is to see, complete the story, and still have fun at the same time. You’re not interested in finishing everything in the game like the Completionists are – but you are captivated by many of the elements that Explorers find attractive.
Your weakness is also what makes you an Adventurer: You can easily locate flaws in the game, notice glitches frequently, and find gaping holes in the story. You’re skilled at locating inconsistencies and, while it drives you crazy, you try to get over it if the story is good enough. Linear games don’t bother you as much as they would explorers, but you still prefer openness.
You would most likely enjoy: RPGs, Story-based MMOs.
Games to look into: Fallout, Skyrim, Baldur’s Gate II, Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed.
篇目4，Playing to Win? Measuring Social Interaction in Games
by Steve Bromley, Graham McAllister, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Jonathan Napier
Why is Social Interaction Important?
Social interaction is becoming an increasingly important theme in multiplayer gaming. The success of the Wii, and its focus on casual multiplayer games such as Wii Sports or Just Dance, has highlighted how important playing with friends is to reaching wider audiences and creating successful game experiences.
For developers, it’s therefore important to be able to understand the types of social interaction that exist, and measure them during the development of games. In a collaboration between Relentless Software and Vertical Slice, we have been developing a methodology to allow developers to evaluate interaction from the very earliest prototypes.
This not only allows developers to measure the forms of interaction evident in their game but also, through increasing our ability to profile players, allows developers to target games towards specific gamer types.
Understanding Social Interaction
In order to measure social interaction, it is first important to define the types of interaction that occur during multiplayer collocated (i.e. sat in the same room) gaming.
Voida, Carpendale, and Greenberg, in their paper The Individual and the Group in Console Gaming, observed people playing multiplayer social games such as Guitar Hero, Mario Party and Mario Kart. By noting and defining the forms of behavior evident in these sessions, they categorized interaction into six groups, presented below. Ackermann also conducted a study, coding and analyzing the forms of interaction noted by players at LAN parties, and noted similar interaction categories.
By combining their research with data from previous Relentless Software usability tests, the following categories of interaction were defined:
Voida et al.’s Original Category
Revised Social Interaction Category
Constructing Shared Awareness
Shared Awareness includes building a shared awareness of the game state, and can include collaborative working out, giving hints, or making another player aware of something within the game, such as game mechanics or “what to do”. It can also include reporting to other players what activities you are performing within the game.
“Let me have the health pack, I’m low on health”
Requesting Information typically includes asking about what is happening in game, how the game works, or how to achieve their goal. It can also include asking other players to report their status. It is often combined with a period of shared awareness.
“How do I solve this puzzle?”
Reinforcing Shared History
Shared History includes discussing what happened earlier in the game, or in a prior play session. May include links to other games, or with players not present.
“Remember when we beat that boss?”
Sharing in Success and Failure
Shared Success includes celebrating a group success, or congratulating another player on their success. It can include a group celebration despite being in a competitive situation.
“Well done, that was really hard!”
Shared Failure includes taking group responsibility for failing a task, offering reassurance, or commiserating with a player who has failed a task. It does not include blame (which may be more appropriate under Trash Talk).
“It’s not your fault, it was a difficult question!”
Engaging in Interdependence and Self-Sacrifice
Team Optimization includes discussing the group dynamics, or negotiating an individual’s contribution to the group. It can include assessing the ability of others, and discussions over who is leading or in control. Can also include denying players the chance to join in.
“Let me do this bit, I’m better at math!”
Trash Talk includes celebrating your own success over the other players, or laughing at their failure. This can be in competitive or collaborative game types, and often involves put downs or insults.
Falling Prey to the computer’s holding power
Self Indulgence includes not playing the game at the expense of other players’ enjoyment, making up one’s own meta-game, or not participating fully, leading to a disruption of the flow of the game. It can include repeatedly performing the same action (i.e. viewing a hidden in-game feature or Easter egg).
“My character’s going to have a nap now.”
Off Topic includes discussing non-game based interaction or discussion
“Nice weather we’re having!”
Bart Stewart recently discussed the use of models for player types, and noted that the most popular model from Bartle divides players into four types, as follows. We have also used the same idea of player types as a way to distinguish between each player’s individual motivations.
Killers are interested in combat/competition with other human players, and prefer this over interaction with non-player characters.
Achievers are most interested in gaining points or alternative in-game measurements of success. These players will often go out of their way to gain items that have no in-game benefit besides prestige, such as Achievements’ or Trophies.
These players are interested in discovering the breadth of a game, and will explore new areas or take non-optimal routes to explore. They do not like time limits, since this limits the potential to explore options.
These players are interested in the social aspect of game play, rather than the game itself. They enjoy interacting with other players, and use the game primarily as a means of communication.
In Bartle’s theory, each individual player’s motivation stretches across each group, with a player being scored in each category, i.e. 80 percent killer, 10 percent socializer, 10 percent achiever.
For this study, the online Bartle Test was utilized, which asks the user 30 questions, before giving them a Bartle player type. For analysis of the results, we divided players by their type.
Measuring Social Interaction
To understand how social interaction differs across player types, and to show the application of the methodology for measuring social interaction, we ran eight lab sessions, each with two collocated players, 30 minutes of playtime, and triangulated social interaction, biometric, and player interview data to gain a better understanding of the forms, and effects, of social interaction during gameplay.
The players were picked from pre-existing social groups to encourage interaction. Pairs of players were asked to play a game of Buzz! Quiz World, the social quiz game created by Relentless Software.
During these sessions, a custom tool, created in Processing, was used to record the forms of social interaction noted, and automatically timestamp the data for further analysis.
Throughout the session GSR (galvanic skin response) data was taken, measuring how their body reacted to the in-game events and the forms of social interaction noted.
GSR has a linear correlation with arousal (such as excitement or frustration) and reflects non-specific emotional response. The GSR data was presented on a timeline, and was later correlated with the social interaction data.
After the session, players were asked to record their experience on blank graph paper, and annotate this. This was done unprompted, before interviewing the players, to ensure that a fair representation of their memories of the session, and the events/interaction that occurred during it, could be evaluated.
The custom social interaction recording tool
The players were then interviewed while watching a video of their play session in order to gain an understanding of what they were thinking throughout the session. When prompted by peaks in the GSR signal or a-typical social interaction behavior, the players were asked to describe what they were thinking or doing at that moment. This gave increased insight into why players were acting as they were, not just how they acted.
A player’s self-assessed “experience” graph
What Did We Find?
As mentioned, we broke the results down by the four player types, to gain greater insight into the motivations behind each form of interaction noted.
Killers, who as we noted are most interested in defeating other players, showed the highest degree of the “trash talk” behavior, insulting and goading their opponent.
It was also interesting to note that Killers’ levels of arousal, as identified by GSR, and social interaction, dropped significantly when it was obvious they were going to win — they are only interested in “worthy” opponents, as was confirmed later by the interviews.
A Killer’s self assessed “experience” graph
Their desire for defeating other players could be realized and emphasized in game through the introduction of taunt mechanics in games, as are found in many fighters.
Game mechanics can be introduced to ensure continued engagement by ensuring that all players always have the opportunity to win. This has previously been seen through the rubber banding in games such as Mario Kart, or the final round of Buzz! Quiz World, which converts the score players have earned throughout the game into a head start in the last round.
Achievers, who are defined by their interest in visibly demonstrating their success at a game, showed the highest level of interaction and arousal when the game displayed a visible indication of their progress.
In Buzz! Quiz World, this was noted particularly for the Pie Fight round, where the players received a pie in the face for an incorrect answer, and in the Over the Edge round, which raised players who were doing badly towards a sludge tank.
In their interactions, it was also noted that achievers were prepared to give up their advantage to verbally demonstrate that they knew the answer.
In trivia games like Buzz! there is an advantage if your opponent doesn’t know the right answer; however, achievers were noted to say their answers out loud while answering, demonstrating their superior knowledge, at the cost of in-game success. Evidently prestige is more important than the game’s defined objectives.
Achievers described how they’d like further rewards in game, as demonstrated by comments that they’d like the audience to chant their name in-game.
As such, a game can be tailored towards encouraging interaction from achievers by offering the opportunity to visibly display success in each round against their opponent, not just through badges and trophies, but through in-game mechanics, such as stats and support!
A player falling towards the sludge in Over The Edge, with a visible peak in the Achiever’s GSR signal (green)
Among socializers, it was noted that their interaction was primarily collaborative. Socializers would work together with their opponent, and discuss the choice of rounds to ensure that they both shared enjoyment in the game session, whereas other player types often chose categories their opponent would perform poorly in.
Socializers demonstrated the high degree of “shared awareness” verbal interactions, and discussed the answers. Unlike achievers, this interaction was collaborative and involved two players working out the correct answer to the questions together. It was also noted that socializers were uninterested in the progress of the game, and showed a low level of GSR arousal to in-game events, compared to other player types.
Due to the high level of arousal noted when socializers talked to one another, the recommendation can be made to emphasize communication between the players, even in typically competitive gameplay, to ensure that they remain engaged in the game. This can be achieved through development of plot or the use of humor.
Explorers, who are defined by their interest in exploring and understanding the breadth and depth of the game and its mechanics, also demonstrated a high level of cooperative interaction — and, like socializers, worked together with other players while describing what was happening in the game.
They showed the highest level of interaction when engaged by new challenges, such as selecting the topic for a new round, discovering the mechanics of the round, or being asked new questions. Explorers also demonstrated a high level of interest in the visual aspects of the game, such as describing what their in-game avatars were doing at the time. Like socializers, they were not engaged by Buzz!’s overt success goals, and a explorer even said “I’m not interested if I win or lose.”
When targeting games towards explorers, it is important to display a wide variety in content, both in the game mechanics and graphically. Minigame collections, such as WarioWare and Mario Party are good examples of games that encourage social interaction from explorers.
An Important Note
It is important to recognize in the recommendations for all player types that optimizing a game towards one player type may create a detrimental experience for other types, and hence it will be important for the design team to evaluate the results of this method against their development goals.
Developed in partnership with Relentless Software, the methodology for live-coding the forms of social interaction that occur during gameplay allows great insight into precisely what elements of a game cause reactions with players. The application of this methodology during development can allow designers to tailor a game towards emphasizing specific forms of interaction, or targeting specific player types.
This study has shown how the forms of social interaction differ for each player type in the social trivia game Buzz! Quiz World, from the taunting of highly competitive killers, the boasting of achievers, or the collaborative discussion of socializers. The application of this to different game types, from FPSs to RPGs, would reveal interesting distinct traits in the interactions found among each player type in response to more directly competitive play. There is also potential to explore how social interaction changes among larger groups of players.