Essential Question: What is the implication of player type on game design?
Different players will work their way through games using different playing styles, so it is helpful for a teacher to be able to identify which students use which approaches. Fortunately, there are programs to help figure this out. You can use your results from these sites to better understand how your students work and also to create groups of similar players in your classroom.
To see how these sites work, I took two quizzes from two different ones and got the same result: Explorer. The first quiz came from here:
http://givercraft.wikispaces.com/What+Type+of+Gamer+Are+You%3F. An explorer focuses on exploring and discovering the unknown and is engaged by hidden achievements. The second quiz I took was from http://www.4you2learn.com/bartle/bartletest.php?test=ind. My results were:
When using these programs repeatedly, a player usually will fall under one category more than once, indicating their tendency to play in that style.
A 2008 study done by Pew Internet and American Life project found that 97% of teens play video games. Holland (2016) would test her students and, based on the students’ answers, assign a weight in four separate categories: Socializer, Achiever, Explorer, or Killer. She says, “I use these results to inform how I make groups and how I ask kids to collaborate. It offers useful insight into how students will react in different situations, and also provides a starting point for me at the beginning of the semester.”
Holland (2016) talks about each gamer type. Explorers love to explore and wander. In the classrooms, they love large quantities of knowledge. Their sense of achievement comes from knowing more facts. They love to demonstrate their knowledge to others.
Achievers love to gain levels, badges, and awards. They are often very motivated to “beat the game” and move on. In the classroom, Achievers are often most concerned with grades as a measure of their achievement. They want to know the quickest, fastest, or shortest way to the prize.
Socializers are motivated by the desire to form meaningful connections and relationships with others in class. In the game world, they are often the connectors, who help to form questing parties and seem to know everyone online at any given moment. Socializers judge their accomplishments by how many friends, or how many followers, they have.
Griefers or killers willfully damage and vandalize other people’s creations. In the classroom, those students often are the first ones to see if they can “hack” the system. However, Griefers are often your risk-takers, the ones who are used to starting over with nothing, over and over again — because they’re always being killed. An interesting outcome of this is that these players don’t mind being wrong.
“The Bartle Test is not scientific, and it’s just a small test with subjective results. But it’s written in a language my gamer students understand, and the results are fun and spark discussion,” writes Holland (2016).
The four things that people typically enjoyed personally about MUDs were:
1) Achievement within the game context.
Players give themselves game-related goals, and vigorously set out to achieve them.
2) Exploration of the game.
Players try to find out as much as they can about the virtual world. Although initially this means mapping its topology (i.e. exploring the MUD’s breadth), later it advances to experimentation with its physics (i.e. exploring the MUD’s depth).
3) Socializing with others.
Players use the game’s communicative facilities, and apply the role-playing that these engender, as a context in which to converse (and otherwise interact) with their fellow players.
4) Imposition upon others.
So, labeling the four player types above, we get: achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers. According to Bartle (1990), “An easy way to remember these is to consider suits in a conventional pack of cards: achievers are Diamonds (they’re always seeking treasure); explorers are Spades (they dig around for information); socializers are Hearts (they empathize with other players); killers are Clubs (they hit people with them). Naturally, these areas cross over, and players will often drift between all four, depending on their mood or current playing style.”
Why is it important to know gamer types? Wei (2009) says, “Knowing the playersʼ likes and dislikes is important to game developers in making better games.” But knowing styles will also help anyone working with someone playing a game understand why they are doing what they are doing. This is true for a classroom teacher who is using games for learning. Like with everything else we do in the classroom, we need to understand students in order to reach them. The tools discussed above provide some ways to do that when teaching with games.
Bartle, R. (1990). HEARTS, CLUBS, DIAMONDS, SPADES: PLAYERS WHO SUIT MUDS. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm
Holland, B. (2016). Use the Four Gamer Types to Help Your Students Collaborate – from Douglas Kiang on Edudemic – EdTechTeacher. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://edtechteacher.org/use-the-four-gamer-types-to-help-your-students-collaborate-from-douglas-kiang-on-edudemic/
Wei, Q. (2009). Gamers and the Games They Play (Doctoral dissertation, WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE).