The theory of player types was first developed by Bartle (Bartle, R.A., 1996), who examined MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) game players and remarked that they could be broadly categorised as follows:
- Achievers, who give themselves in-game goals and set out to complete them as a priority
- Explorers, who are interested in understanding the game world through lore, maps, or other information
- Socialisers, who enjoy communication with other players through interaction and/or role-playing
- Killers, who adopt an aggressive and confrontational stance with other players and enjoy fighting and reaping associated rewards
This model was later expanded and discussed by various theorists, including Stewart who proposes a “unified model” (Stewart, B., 2011), introducing a mapped approach between game and psychology theories:
In his proposal, he also argues that “an effective model should be able to explain how particular games satisfy particular play style interests“, and links the model to Minecraft (Mojang, 2011) which exhibits an “Explorer-Killer focus“. He also remarks that Minecraft later added an adventure mode with achievements, directly appealing to the “Achievers” of the table above.
Building on this article, it is also interesting to note that Minecraft now also features multiplayer and servers, which directly references the socialiser aspect of the table; this is indeed in direct relation to “people fun” and Bartle’s assessment that socialisers seek communication with other players through interaction.
However, another sandbox game tackles this player type very differently: Dragon Quest Builders (Square Enix Business, 2016). Dragon Quest Builders is a sandbox game similar to Minecraft where the gameplay is centred on resource gathering and building, in a seemingly endless and open world. It does not however feature any multiplayer, and instead is based solely on a story mode, wherein the player is the only person capable of rebuilding and saving the world. Indeed, within the game, it is possible to meet many voiced character who ask for help and express gratitude at the player’s presence and intervention. The player has the chance to heal NPCs, rebuild towns, and frequent use of humour and emotionally-driven dialogue is made.
Looking at the table, the socialiser line also includes “narrativist”, “relating”, and “emotional relationships”. Arguably, Dragon Quest Builders therefore relies on these elements instead of multiplayer to bring in the socialiser types to the fold, showing that even within a unified table or player types, there is always more than one solution!
Bartle, R.A. (1996) Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit Muds. Available at: http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm (Accessed 25 November 2017)
Mojang (2011) Minecraft. Mojang.
Square Enix Business (2016) Dragon Quest Builders. Square Enix.
Stewart, B (2011) Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model. Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134842/personality_and_play_styles_a_.php (Accessed 25 November 2017)
Dragon Quest Builders (2016). Available at: http://www.siliconera.com/2016/10/20/dragon-quest-builders-hints-avatars-identity/ (Accessed 25 November 2017)
Unified Model (2011). Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134842/personality_and_play_styles_a_.php?page=2 (Accessed 25 November 2017)