Monday, August 07, 2006

Bartle's Players Who Suit Muds

I'm working on a rather long post, and I find that I need to provide background information. So rather than trying to work it into the post, I'm talking about it here. Plus, it's an interesting topic in and of itself.

Dr. Richard Bartle wrote a paper, Players Who Suit Muds, back in 1990. Though taken from old-school text muds, a lot of it is still relevant today.

In his paper, Dr. Bartle divides players into four categories:

Achievers - people seek to beat the game, by amassing loot or gear or killing bosses.

Explorers - people who try and find out as much about the game as possible.

Socializers - people who's main interests are in interacting with other players.

Killers - people who seek to defeat other players.

Of course, this is a bit simplistic, as most people have elements of each of the four player types. But usually one style is dominant.

For example, I'm pretty close to pure Explorer, as I'm pretty sure most of my posts have demonstrated. I get my enjoyment from learning about the game, doing new things, and seeing what makes things tick. I do have a bit of Achiever, as I like getting new loot, but I'm pretty far down on the Socializer or Killer scale.

Also, none of these archetypes are inherently good or bad. Your awesome raid leader is an Achiever, the guy who comes up with useful new strategies or advice is an Explorer, the guildmaster who holds the guild together is a Socializer, the best PvP'er in the battleground is a Killer. Loot whores are bad Achievers, drama queens are bad Socializers, griefers are bad Killers. I'm not entirely sure what a bad Explorer would be, maybe someone who refuses to help with old content.

Dr. Bartle's paper is a very interesting read, as he describes the different types in more detail, and the effect each type has on the others. I found that I could look at the personalities and arguments in the game in a different light. Of course, since I am an Explorer, this is the kind of stuff that appeals to me. :)

So which archetype are you?


  1. Unfortuantely, the Bartel test page seems to be down.

    Have you read any of the Daedulus Project? It generally has some very good analysis of the MMO community

  2. I would say I am a social/explorer hybrid. I love to talk with guildies that share many of the same interests I do, but I also enjoy exploring what makes some players tick. You know the guy that comes up with a witty comment to make fun of the guy that is making fun of the "noob"? thats me. Sometimes I will hang out in Stormwind and watch the verbal diarrhea that seems to spew forth from our immature friends, and then try to plug it by making them realize just how retarded it is to make fun of another person who is trying to learn. Maybe that makes me a social/killer. I really enjoy exploring the world of Azeroth, but the sociological aspects of the game are what keep me coming back time and time again.

  3. Wolfgangdoom, the Bartle method is a grid layout, so you get a funky looking shape.

  4. lol yeah I kinda figured that would be the case..

  5. I'm primarily an Explorer, I guess, but with very heavy doses of Achiever and Killer in me. Thing is, I'm not relaly a hybrid... I tend to switch gears and go at one or another full-tilt. I go through phases in other words.

    Socializing is not my strong point and I tend to keep all the chat channels turned off and just keep an eye on my guild.

  6. I'm all 4.

    Like Crystalis, I go through cycles. On any given day when I log on, I'll have a preference for one of the 4 styles.

    That's one of the things that makes WoW such an enjoyable pasttime -- it's easy to indulge each of my 4 'inner gamers'!

    I think that Explorer may be slighly more dominant for me, but that varies at any given time.

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  8. I really liked the extrapolation of what "types" are bad socializers, achievers, etc. :)

    According to the good generalizations, I am mostly an explorer.

    I think there's a lot of cross-over available to personality or leadership styles -tests. I am a peer-leader, I tend to lead by consensus and doing. Its not a great leadership style in WoW, especially in 5-man instances! (Where I might lead by pulling, yet I am a healer - etc.) But it does put me in a position where I am sharing my "here's how to take this apart" ... and usually doesn't come across like orders. A raid leader is much more A-type, a more direct chain-of-command type person, and just conceptually if nothing else that makes them Achievers.

  9. You know what I got out of that? Blizzard hasn't read this paper.

    Making a global LFG channel is a potential solution for low population density, not crowded servers. Global LFG, while their attempt at addressing player requets, is diametrically opposed to their biggest problem right now, overpopulation.

    And the demand for GLFG could have been a result of anonther problem, the Blizzard-created grinding requirements, which tilted the game way to far over on its "Action" axis.