Richard Bartle, a British guy who created the original MUDs, identified four types of MUD/MMORPG gamer (killer, explorer, achiever, and socializer). Based on these types, Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey put together a test to determine what kind of gamer you are. Like the memes that fly around the internet these days, or the various personality tests you can take, this one relies on a series of questions that gradually define your style. At the end of the test, you receive a Bartle Quotient that tells you what kind of player you are.
Bartle has a long history as a games scholar, having earned his doctorate in artificial intelligence at the University of Essex, 1978. Along with his creative partner, Roy Trubshaw, he designed MUD1 while teaching at the university, then in 1987, he quit to put all his efforts into MUD2, the version most gamers know. He has written books and articles about game design, and recently, he was a speaker at GDC Online in Austin (2010).
The Basic Types
I’m paraphrasing the descriptions of these types, so forgive me that. You can find more in-depth descriptions at the test site. Keep in mind that no player is in only one category. Players have a mix of these types, in varying degrees. We all know people who fit these descriptions!
- Killers are in it for the action, the destruction, and the feeling of power. These are the PvP players who don’t enjoy the game as much as when they’re competing with other players. Griefers in PvE come from this group. Missing the one-up-manship of PvP, they make an attempt to assault other players in a PvE environment. Not all are griefers, however. Some view it as a sport, an opportunity to develop skills and to prove oneself in combat.
- Socializers are looking for new friends and time spent with old friends. They’re not as interested in the game itself as they are in playing with others they know. The game is secondary, and they will follow their groups of friends from game to game to game. They seek to belong to guilds or other similar organizations that cater to their sense of belonging.
- Achievers go around collecting equipment and special items. Their primary drive is to gain experience and levels. They get a sense of accomplishment based on how much they have acquired. This is the “Gotta collect them all” mentality. They have to play through each and every challenge, at least once. They push through to the end-game, taking their characters to the highest level possible.
- Explorers enjoy exploring the game world and story. They’re looking for an out-of-body experience in which they can suspend their disbelief. They want to be transported into this world. They often are puzzle-solvers. They’re the ones who read every line of lore in a game. Writers love these players. They’re the main reason we exist.
I’m an Achiever
When I took the test, I discovered that I’m an Achiever. To be specific, I was 80% Achiever, 60% Explorer, 47% Socializer, and 20% Killer. It’s true. I take great pleasure from achieving ranks, items, and levels in a game. It’s how I gauge my success. Second to that, I enjoy exploring, but only if it doesn’t involve volumes of text (which I’m usually loathe to read). I like to play with friends, most of the time, although my experience with grouping with strangers has left me more of a solo player. This, the 47% socializer. And as for PvP, I’ve never enjoyed it. I’m not good at it, and I really dislike competing with my fellow players. I much prefer a PvE environment.
So, there you have it. For me, the test proved telling. Take it yourself, and let me know what it says about you and whether you felt it was accurate!