Revisting Bartle’s MMO player types

We haven’t talked about the old Killer-Socializer-Explorer-Achiever thing in a while. Time to drag it out and beat it again…

So to start, I would self-categorize myself as almost full on Explorer. Logic:

Killer — I don’t like being killed in an MMO. And I assume that other people don’t like being killed, either. I am, when centered, a generally nice person. I don’t like to inflict pain, suffering or unhappiness on other people. (Other people would probably not say I’m a nice person because I am often not centered, and when I’m frustrated, or angry, or sad, I’m a royal son-of-a-bitch, but we generally point our introspection lens at ourselves when we are ‘neutral’.) So I don’t like PVP because I don’t like killing other people because I assume that upsets them, and I get no pleasure out of upsetting other people.

But, curiously enough, even though I don’t like being killed, I do kind of like being in danger. It really adds something to the MMO experience when you know you can be unexpectedly attacked at any moment (in days of yore you’d have to worry about that from NPCs, but that’s not often the case these days).

Point being, I don’t put my Killer quotient at zero, but it’s pretty low. I enjoy, now and then, the thrill of running through PvP areas and having to be on the lookout constantly.

Socializer — I solo almost exclusively. I don’t chat a lot; I’m *extremely* impatient with people who are intolerant, and most MMOs are full of people who are intolerant. The irony of me being intolerant of people who are intolerant is not lost on me…I wouldn’t want to talk to me, either. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do like to swoop in and save people in trouble; that makes me feel heroic. I do like player-driven economies and the dynamic feel that lots of players brings to a game. I love people watching, in game and out. People are strange and twisted beasts and you never know what they’ll do next.

Point here being, Socializer again very low, but not quite at zero.

And now things get really interesting.

I would self-evaluate myself as being low Achiever, and high Explorer. Or I would have, until I got into a comment thread with Tipa over gaining levels. Quick summary: Tipa thinks of leveling as a chore, and she’d just assume games not have levels. She points to Eve as a game where you can go anywhere and do anything on Day 1.

Now that baffled me. It’d be like saying you don’t like ice cream! There’s nothing wrong at all with not liking ice cream, but I just find it hard to fathom. I love gaining levels, or speaking more generally, progressing a character (levels, talents, skills, traits, gear…whatever ‘increases’ to make your character more capable).

Tipa says she is an Explorer, not an Achiever, and that explains why she feels the way she does.

It took me a few days of pushing this around in my brain before I realized that I *am* an Achiever. I never thought I was because I very, very rarely make level cap. I never log in with intent to gain more levels, but when I do get them, I smile a lot. I never raid, I never stay up past a reasonable bedtime in pursuit of a goal. I don’t feel driven my Achiever-ness. But it turns out I am an Achiever.

I’m Explorer too, but that exploration has to be tempered with Achiever goals. Give me a brand new MMO where I can toggle on god mode and fly everywhere around the world and see everything the game has to offer, and I’m done with the game in a week. To me, Exploring new parts of an MMO world is the reward for Achieving new levels. [Tangent: I love Japanese RPGs, too, even though they tend to be very linear and so not very popular in the West. I love having to ‘earn’ the next bit of the story, the next area to explore. Same basic mechanics as in my MMOs.]

All of which is why I probably don’t buy into the popular “DIKU-MUD based MMOs must DIE” sentiment that is so popular these days. I don’t play for the game mechanics, I play to Explore a new world. Once I stop regularly visiting new areas in a game, I move on to another game. The mechanics are irrelevant, and in fact I might argue that I prefer them not to change much because I don’t feel like putting in the effort to learn a new set of controls. Take WoW or EQ2, strip out the geography, lore and npcs and replace those with new geography, lore and npcs and I’ll happily repurchase as a new game.

So I think if I were to self assign my Bartle archetype, it’d be something like:

Explorer: 40%
Achiever: 40%
Killer: 10%
Socializer: 10%

(Not that Bartle results add up to 100%)

For reference, the last time I took the test I was:

How about you? Forget the test… how do you see yourself?

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After reading such a diatribe, I can at least share with you the kinds of views I play for:


Click through for 1680×1050 wallpaper versions.

7 thoughts on “Revisting Bartle’s MMO player types

  1. I’ve always considered myself a killer on top, with socializer next, then achiever, then explorer. The world has never mattered to me as much as how I am able to interact with other players. I like making friends, and I like killing them at the same time. Some of the most fun I’ve had in an MMO goes back to when my friends and I would practice dueling and PvP in our houses on UO.

    I really am considering picking up Darkfall just for that kind of atmosphere, and I am also looking at Mortal Online for the same reason.

    The lore and atmosphere of a game influence me a little, but a good PvP game is what wins the day. I love the openness and freedom that comes from being able to fight anyone at any time.

  2. I’m not sure where I’d rate my killer quotient, because it depends. I do not attempt to kill PVP-flagged enemies in WoW (unless they have previously attacked me), and I am always a bit frustrated when I somehow end up PVP-flagged and killed while I was doing something else. However, I am happy to fight, win or lose, in battlegrounds and Wintergrasp, and I will even seek out conflict. I guess the distinction is that, in the more structured environment, both I and my opponents opted in. Perhaps they and I would both rather have been the winner, but I’m okay with that trade-off when it is my choice to opt-in, and opt back out if the odds prove insurmountable in a way that is not fun.

  3. What’s really strange is that I’ll play something like Battlefield 1943 (worth it if you have a PS3 or Xbox 360, btw) and have a great time. I think with MMOs I really do role-play so I have some emotional investment in my character.. I care about him so don’t want him to die.

    Although I break out of that in an RvR situation like Warhammer, when there are big groups fighting back and forth. I think the constant die/respawn/die/respawn just switches off my RP gene for a little while. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Beej, the oddest thing is, I’m tempted by Darkfall, too. I loved UO when it launched and was full-on PvP, even though I hate PvP. Because I think it does add to the feeling of it being a real world.

  4. I think I like everything about the same, but weighted heavily towards social:

    Explorer: 20%
    Achiever: 20%
    Killer: 20%
    Socializer: 40%

  5. I read Tipa more as disliking the gating mechanics implemented as part of leveling. She seems to like playing around in the “leveling” content well enough.

    That’s why I don’t like the DIKU design; it imposes Achieving on me when I’d rather be out and about poking around. (And a “god mode” for an MMO would be great for me. I’d spend *more* time in an MMO if I could do that, just wandering around looking for great screenshot opportunities.) Sure, I’m happy Achieving small things, but when my Exploring hinges on Achieving, I get annoyed.

    So yeah, “officially” (via the GamerDNA test) I’m an EASK 100/50/50/0. I’d actually peg myself as more of a 150/30/20/0. If there’s a choice between Exploring or Achieving, I’ll Explore every time, and indeed, if Achieving gets in the way of Exploring, I’ll happily throw it under the bus, given the chance. (And yes, that means turning on the cheat modes. I’m not in gaming to prove to myself that I can jump through hoops, I’m in it to explore and have fun.)

    Nice screenshots, by the way!

  6. I didn’t mean to put words in Tipa’s mouth (or thoughts in her head, as the case may be). I just extrapolated from her statements the idea that there are people that don’t like leveling.

    Free Realms is in one sense a perfect game for folks like you, Tesh. You can go anywhere on Day 1 — there are no aggro mobs, and encounters scale to your level. So you can see every screenshot opportunity on Day 1 (in theory at least). In practice, it took me a few weeks, but now I feel like I’ve been everywhere in Free Realms, so I don’t play it nearly as much as I used to. There’s no place left for me to explore. No new zones to reach as a goal.

    And I guess my use of the word ‘goal’ also reinforces my Achiever status. ๐Ÿ™‚ But that’s why I like leveling. I guess I like the ‘gates’ since it forces me to take things in slowly and really appreciate each new zone as I reach it. If I can go anywhere, I move too quickly and miss things.

    I so love finding out that other folks whom I respect and like have playstyles that are so alien to me. Slowly, painfully, I’m learning to accept that we’re all different, rather than reactively trying to ‘correct’ their behavior and show them the error of their ways!!! LOL

  7. “I so love finding out that other folks whom I respect and like have playstyles that are so alien to me. Slowly, painfully, Iโ€™m learning to accept that weโ€™re all different, rather than reactively trying to โ€˜correctโ€™ their behavior and show them the error of their ways!!! LOL”

    Say it ain’t so! You can’t be a blogger if you’re not totally biased and unswerving in your adultation of one particular playstyle.

    I’m kidding. ….. or AM I?!?!? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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