Essential Question: What is the implication of player type on game design?

It has been an interesting week reading about game design, specifically player type.  I have always known there were different types of gamers, but Richard Bartle describes four types: achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers.  (Bartle, 1996) The following summary comes from Kiang (2016)

  • Achievers: Seek to improve power and status.  Fun comes from points and leveling up.  Point of playing is to master the game.  Enjoy recognition of their achievements.
  • Explorers: Love to “figure out” games.  Fun comes from discovery.  Collectors of knowledge and little known facts.  Enjoy teaching others.
  • Socializers: Enjoy meaningful social interaction with other players.  Point of playing is to make friends.  Game is simply a backdrop.  Enjoy recognition of their followers, contacts, influence.
  • Killers: Also known as “griefers.”  Achievement comes from another person’s loss.  Value knowledge for its applications.  Prize reputation and recognition.

Each type has general characteristics, but most gamers have a blend of all of these types.  In fact, there are tests available online that people can take to determine their player type.  (see references) The helloquizzy site determined that my type is

  • 72% Innovator (Explorer)
  • 39% Effector (Killer)
  • 39% Ace (Achiever)
  • 17% Strategist (Socializer).

The 4you2learn website determined that my type is

  • 80% Explorer
  • 53% Griefer (Killer)
  • 47% Achiever
  • 20% Socializer

As you can see, they are eerily similar.  I believe these results mirror my gamer profile accurately, and to a certain extent, social personality.  I had my daughter take the helloquizzy website test and it determined that she is an achiever.  The description of her profile was pretty spot on as well.

Why does gamer type matter?  Well, in a multi-player game, it’s important for the designer to make sure that there is a balance of gamer types.  Too many of one and not enough of another can throw off the “flow” of the game.  Bartle goes into great length about the interactions of these types of players.  For example, “Achievers tend to regard explorers as losers”, “Explorers consider socialisers to be people whom they can impress, but who are otherwise pretty well unimportant”, “The hatred that some socialisers bear for killers admits no bounds”, and “Killers tend to leave explorers alone”.  So it is important for game designers to take these gamer types into consideration when creating games.

Other researchers have developed their own classifications as well.  Dan Dixon has nine types (2011):

Social Mentalities

  1. Gaming with Kids
  2. Gaming with Mates
  3. Gaming for Company

Casual Mentalities

  1. Killing Time
  2. Filling Gaps
  3. Relaxing

Committed Mentalities

  1. Having Fun
  2. Entertainment
  3. Immersion

One area that I wanted to explore (not surprising), is game design for single-players.  Jester wrote an extensive piece on this topic that is too long to summarize here, but he describes some “do’s” and “don’ts” for single player game designs.  (Jester, 2016) For example, he states that designers should not create a game that is basically a cinematic presentation (movie).  A game should have a story line, interaction, and be physically real (wind blowing grass, dynamic weather, night/day play, break objects, go through any obvious doorway, etc.)  Although the game may be single player, that single player can have interactions with characters within the game, and those interactions can cause the game to go in different directions, making it unique every time you play the game.  It was very difficult to read this article because I didn’t have the necessary perspective, in other words, I don’t play a lot of single player games such as Uncharted, The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, and Elder Scrolls.  It does provide designers some great information about making a great single player game.

References: (Dr. Graham’s link to Bartle Test) (Bartle Test link from Kiang)

Bartle, Richard. (1996). Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDS. MUSE Ltd., Retrieved from

Dixon, Dan. (2011). Player Types and Gamification. [PDF]. Retrieved from

Jester. (2016). Single Player Game Design – Do’s and Don’ts. Retrieved from

Kiang, Douglas. (2016). Use the Four Gamer Types to Help Your Students Collaborate. EdTechTeacher. Retrieved from



2 thoughts on “Essential Question: What is the implication of player type on game design?

  1. Nice summary of Bartle’s 4 player types. On the test, I was, in my opinion, too much of an achiever. I thought it was because I am a product of my era of education (I’m a Late Baby Boomer), but then I have heard peers in this program who are likely in their late 20’s and early 30’s talk about being achievement oriented. Maybe a testimony to “it’s time to make changes in education!”

    That is awesome that you came out high in the Explorer range—consistent in two tests! I have not played in video games as much as you have ( I am assuming you are a gamer), but I do plan to spend a lot of time gaming once I am finished with coursework. Besides wanting to learn more as an educator, what a great way to relate better to our 7 to 13 year old grandkids at home, and learn directly from them how they respond and the types of games they like to play.

    I would like to game with my husband, but not in a competitive game ☺

    I really like the environmental aspects of a game as well: the wind, weather, etc. that you brought out. As I read, I was there—like the survival mode of Minecraft.


  2. I like Dixon’s classification scheme a little better because it has more variety. As it broke out into three categories I could easily pick which one I fell into, and I could also see that the three subcategories were well in alignment with the overall. I am curious to know if other people feel that Dixon’s scheme for categorizing works as well for other hamer types, or if some people feel that they fit into more than one main group.


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