Explorers, Killers, Achievers, and Socializers: Why We Like Different Kinds of Games

So, in the same way we all like different types of movies, books, and TV, we all like different types of games. Shocker, right? But there’s actually been a lot of research done into our motivations behind why we like the games we like. One way to look at it is player types.

The oldest system and the most well-known is the Bartle taxonomy. You can read the whole long thing here, but essentially it breaks players into four main categories. See title. The thing came out in the nineties, so it’s sort of outdated, but it is important to look at to understand the basic idea of how players can be separated.

So here’s the summary of each type:

Explorers: They like to discover a world of a game, find hidden places and easter eggs, fill in maps, and move at their own pace. Explorers would be huge fans of the open world or games like Myst and The Witness where you have to wander around and figure things out.

Killers: They like to interfere with the world and with players around them. They like to destroy and disrupt and make things explode. Online battle games like Overwatch would appeal to them.

Achievers: They like accomplishing things. Finishing quests, gaining trophies, collecting items, anything that gives them rewards like gold or status or experience. They may also be motivated simply for the prestige, like beating the optional boss that turns up after endgame.

Socializers: They like to hang out with other players, work together to solve problems, and build relationships. Of all the player types, they are probably the least interested in the actual game and instead focus on meeting new people through the game. They’d be big on cooperative multiplayer.

Now, hardly anybody fits into only one of those types, but it does help distinguish between possible motivating factors in games. For instance, I tend to lean towards Explorer and Achiever and lean very far away from Socializer. See this graphic below for a clearer picture of these types.

If you want a more detailed analysis of this and other methodologies, check out this Gamasutra article. 

The one that I’ve found the most helpful (that’s more recent too) is the Gamer Motivation Model on Quantic Foundry. I mentioned this on our latest Side-Quest (head to our Episodes page and take a listen!). This looks at six main motivation clusters which each have two sub-motivations and links each with certain games and franchises so it can give you suggestions for games you might enjoy. You can make your own profile and you can check out their blog to see different break-downs of patterns and statistics.

We like this post about local co-op.

The quiz is pretty simple. You give them some games you like and you answer a few questions about how important things are to you in a game. Most of it looks like this. My answers are filled in.

I don’t wanna hang out with you

It proceeds to tell you about your preferences and what games you might like based on that. You are probably high in two groups, but I’ve seen profiles that are entirely balanced to that emphasize only one above all else too. Here’s the six motivation clusters:

Immersion includes Fantasy and Story. High scores like interesting narrative, characters, and settings while low scores care more about the gameplay mechanics instead.

Creativity includes Design and Discovery. High scores like exploring the game world and being able to change it to suit themselves while low scores are more accepting towards linear progression and strict rules.

Action includes Destruction and Excitement. High scores like to jump into the fray and not stop while low scores like more calm, paced events that keep the heart rate normal.

Mastery includes Challenge and Strategy. High scores like being frustrated and having to think logically to figure out difficult puzzles or get themselves out of difficult situations while low scores like more forgiving difficulties and spontaneous happenings.

Social includes Competition and Community. High scores like interacting with other players in both hostile and friendly ways while low scores prefer playing by themselves and being able to make decisions more independently.  

Achievement includes Completion and Power. High scores like collecting everything they can from rare items to strong weapons to collectibles and are very likely to be found grinding away while low scores tend to progress faster while worrying less about their status in the game or whether they have everything they could ever find. 

You can look at my full profile if you’re curious about me.

Anyway, I think it’s highly important to know your player type because it keeps you from buying games you won’t like. Even if everybody says it’s the best game ever, you won’t enjoy it if it doesn’t hit the areas you actually like. So check out the quiz and find out who you are. Gamer-wise.

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