After a conversation at Guru's day, I wanted to follow up on a lead for gaming personas I was given. This is killers, achievers, socialisers & explorers, a player matrix suggested by Richard Bartle in 1996. Bartle was a co-creator of MUD (Multi-user dungeon) which was a pre-cursor to todays multi-player online role playing games (some of the most popular games in contemporary society today). I have been researching thoroughly all week to be able to create player archetypes. I stumbled across an article on gamification, game design and player types based on Bartle from the Interaction Design Foundation that luckily was released just this week that you can find here.
It is the process of adding game-like qualities or game mechanics to something to encourage engagement or participation. Knowing these player types, being able to observe what they look like will *potentially give me an overview of what appeal different aspects of a concept I test will have to different player types.
Although Richard Bartle developed a test, which you can take here (if you're curious - I tested as an 88% explorer) the four player types he suggested is more of a guideline than a definitive rule or stereotype. The majority of people will identify with various aspects of a different combination of these so I have taken the opportunity to use the information available online and from the Interaction Design Foundation to create a Bartle player type matrix which maps out what these players are seeking, their motivation and goals, what makes them happy and what success looks like to them against their response to the world, other players, as well as levels of interaction and acting within the world and players.
These kind of attributes will start to develop in children, even if they aren't as pronounced at a younger age as you begin learning through play. It's why some children favour some types of toys and games over other, because ultimately the motivations and goals of the game are different. So when considering these player types, I still want to make sure that what elements I draw from it are age appropriate, which I should be able to figure out when I test. I think for my focus group in the next semester, it would be great to try and devise a version of the Bartle test that is at an appropriate level for children to answer accurately by changing the context to age appropriate games and toys (this test is predominantly for what you would do in an online role playing game situation as that was it's original framework and I don't think that many parents of 4 & 5 year olds have avid online role playing gamers - although I could be wrong!) to figure out their motivations for playing games, so that I can at least have a contextual understanding of what they potentially would appreciate more, to get more value from their responses.
Below shows the matrix I have devised from the Bartle taxonomy:
The Interaction Design Foundation article warns against thinking of these as stereotypes and even if you ask your players that may be testing your product or game to take the Bartle test, it is still important to understand this as a matrix. Where players may exhibit qualities of multiple player types depending on the context and environment they are in. So a great deal of testing and observation and reading between the lines on what player type the are pre-dominantly against what their reactions are to certain game mechanics or gamified interactions. That being said though, understanding these player types and their motivations and goals, does make it easier to understand what needs are there to be met and find successful and meaningful ways to do that.
I have therefore decided to empathy map these player types, thinking about what the say & do, what they think & feel, what their pains are and what they would perceive as a gain in a gamified environment. These will come in useful during testing as well as refining details of the games or interactions I will begin to prototype. It will give me an idea of what game mechanics to employ in to the games such as leaderboards, easter eggs or badges, exploratory worlds etc...
You can't please everyone
There is an age old adage that "you can't please everyone", which I think in this case is true. Most games will appeal mostly to two or three within the player types, those that try to aim at all four can sometimes end up too complex and not actually hit the mark with any. I think focussing across the matrix either from top to bottom or diagonally can help me to aim my game mechanics and interactions in a certain way.
I am still working on my What if questions and sketching more of the ideas out. I will upload them to my blog next week and hopefully be able to push forward with a few prototypes and ideas.