Player Types Applied To Game Design

Player Types – Introduction

The following player types are universally accepted within the Gamification industry, and are based on the original model defined by Richard A. Bartle back in 1996.  In this article, we will focus on the definition and applicability of the 4 main player types within the development and design process for today’s most recent games and game mechanics as applied in a business context.


Player Types Defined

1- Achievers

The draw to gaming for the Achiever is that they have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and achievements to others in their group or department. They seek validation and often look to the socializers (see #3) to boost their pride through praise and recognition. They will have an almost obsessive preoccupation with leaderboards and other types of graphical representations of their status, or performance scores. Many games cater to these players by offering special titles, avatars and badges, as well as other in-game items to those that place in the top of the competitive ladder.

2- Explorers

These are the “learners” of the gaming universe, and will seek to master the mechanics of the application or game with which they interact. Explorers are not necessarily introverted, but they do find it more rewarding to compete with themselves, rather than with others. Based on their profile, Explorers are most likely to quickly adopt gamified applications, and help influence others during the roll-out process.

3- Socializers

The online environment is very appealing to the Socializer, as it provides near limitless potential for new relationships. Socializers start filling up their friend lists as soon as they start meeting people. They take full advantage of the ability to join with a group and seek friendship with other players. Socializers are the perfect product evangelists during both the initial and ongoing deployment of gamified applications.

4- “Killers”

Although this player type sounds like it might evoke the profile of an uncooperative and disruptive participant, there are several ways to leverage the Killer’s mindset. This player type usually develops within individuals that possess a friendly, competitive spirit. They’re in it for the sport, trying to read their opponent’s moves and generally behave strategically. When setting up objectives and goals within your gamified application, the best way to engage this player type is to establish KPIs based on aggressive targets. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Killer players are in a sales or sales-related role within a typical organization.

Alternative Player Type Classification

In addition to the 4 player types defined above, a new model has emerged, as authored by Andrzej Marczewski.  Andrzej’s classification does not oppose Professor Bartle’s, but adds additional nuance.

Player Types as Applied to Game Design

In order to incorporate the desired behavior and  outcomes, game designers create triggers and stimulating scenarios when developing game-play.

In a business context objectives and KPIs are the ultimate goal. Incorporating both the graphical elements and game mechanics within the game promotes frequent usage. This in turn leads to increases in reliability (Schedule Adherence, Compliance), and efficiency (low AHT, or Average Handling Time, increased CSAT, or Customer Satisfaction Scores).

Another separate, yet related element is the process of learning, which leads to career advancement and additional recognition.

Gamification takes eLearning to the next level by incorporating at-work training with engaging activities.

“The intersection of assessment and game design is quickly becoming a hot topic—and for good reason. Our traditional notions of assessments just won’t cut it in the 21st century. But likewise, learning games need to do a better job of aligning with learning goals and standards.”  ~ Better Learning in Games, MIT Research Publication