We’re finally at the last part of our exploration into personality types and play styles around Bartle’s player taxonomy; the Killer. Though this one is slightly different, as many of the other player types are generally positive or individualistic player types, the Killer is somewhat negative. That is why for better understanding it has been paired with its opposite the Philanthropist.
If you haven’t read Part 1 (The Achiever), Part 2 (The Explorer) and Part 3 (The Socialiser) in the series, then I do recommend having a look through them as well, as they will fill out the blanks for you in the piece.
As you may know by now with this series, we’re looking at and breaking down one of the more famous Player Type models, Bartle’s Player Type taxonomy, which splits people into four categories: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers and Killers (Philanthropists). There are other variations and expansions of this model from Lazzaro, Callois, Kersey, and other psychometric tests, many of which are explored in detail in this Gamasutra article.
The idea of the player type model is that they may or tend to be incomplete, this notion arises because people exist out of more than just one type of personality type. People are a bit more complex than just a singular label. As Bartle has mentioned himself, his own model may be too narrow in certain circumstances, and this leads us to consider that the other model may also not be broad enough. Though we don’t want to go to the other end of the extreme and create one that is too broad. Then we simply lose oversight and create a model that is made of only exceptions and no rules.
One of the aims of this series to use the narrow model created by Bartle to explain the base types found in the majority of people and to then see if perhaps a more classic and broader taxonomy such as Jung’s Archetypes can be added in to give a varied and expanded viewpoint on player types.
The secondary aim is that you and other readers are equally made aware of the fact when designing a game or gamified environment, that you should not simply cater to a single player type. But that you should understand each separately and involve each type accordingly to the experience you create:
“The player types theory is there to remind you that you’re making games for human players, involving their psychology in how they perceive and play your game.” –Source
To do this effectively a careful qualitative research of your target community should be conducted. This is so that when you design your game or gamified system, you can accurately determine which types are dominant and which types you should cater for in each player.
Bartle’s player types
As we’ve mentioned, we’ll be exploring specifically Dr. Bartle’s player type model, taking each type individually, how they function, how they interact and what the variations are between them:
“Killers: interfere with the functioning of the game world or the play experience of other players
Achievers: accumulate status tokens by beating the rules-based challenges of the game world
Explorers: discover the systems governing the operation of the game world
Socializers: form relationships with other players by telling stories within the game world” –Source
What you must remember is that these player type models do not exist to put people into neat little boxes, but to create a better understanding of all the varying interests and priorities in each person, and to give these needs, wants and motivations a recognizable label. The other aspect to remember as a designer is that if you’re not careful, your game or gamified environment may inadvertently lean towards a certain player type. But through rigorous qualitative research, you can overcome this by understanding your audience and creating a more holistic environment. Thereby increasing the overall interest and engagement of your audience. And that is generally what we all aim for as successful designers.