The Four Player types (Bartle Types) - gamer psychology that works

The one thing all good or bad games have in common - a player (with personal preferences). Wouldn't it be neat to design a game that is custom tailor for a player's personality?
The Four Player types (Bartle Types) - gamer psychology that works

Richard Bartle’s Four Player Types is probably one most simplistic gamer psychology that works.

His approach arises from the inter-relationship of two-dimension of playing style: acting versus interacting, and world-oriented versus player-oriented, generating four different kings of playstyle interests. Each of which is presented with a descriptive name:

  • Killers - acting-on players. They interfere with the functioning of the game world or the play experience of other players;
  • Achievers - acting-on world. These players accumulate status tokens by beating the rules-based challenges of the game world;
  • Explorers - interacting with the world. They tend to discover the systems governing the operation of the game world;
  • Socializers - interacting with players. Form relationships with other players by telling stories within the game world.

Frankly, these types are associated with French-suited cards (a.k.a. the regular playing cards), where:

  • KillersClubs - they hit people with them;
  • AchieversDiamonds - they’re always seeking treasure;
  • ExplorersSpades -they dig around for information;
  • SocializersHearts - they empathize with players.

You can find Richard Bartles official report here: “HEARTS, CLUBS, DIAMONDS, SPADES: PLAYERS WHO SUIT MUDS”

These kinds of playstyle traits help you learn why some people like “Counter-Strike” (Killers, Achievers) and others “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” (Explorers, Socializers). And mostly how they are interacting with the game elements. Both games have a chat function: in Counter-Strike it serves as tactical information and personal humiliation channel, but in Animal Crossing: New Horizons it’s used for being a hospitable island host.

Let’s say you have a task to improve the in-game cross-player interaction elements. You wouldn’t put the “Revenge Now” button in Animal Crossing: New Horizons next to the island guests profile. Or the “Send resources as a present to all guests” option in the “Counter-Strike” game by giving your opponent the upper hand in the upcoming deathmatch.

“My two cents”

  1. You cannot satisfy all player types in one game unless you are building MMO (World of Warcraft accommodates all four Bartle player types).
  2. Players don’t sit on one exclusive box (100%), meaning a single player is classified more like in a radial chart style (for example, Killer: 46%, Achiever: 24%, Explorer: 20%, Socializer: 10%)
  3. Use player types profiles for your acquisition campaigns by addressing their interests. So you won’t bring killers to a single-player flower watering game.