A Journey Through Technology

Week 6: What is the implication of player type on game design?

on October 14, 2016

This week we are looking at player type and the implication that it has on game design. According to the Bartle (1996), there are four different types of game players: Explorers, Achievers, Socializers, and Killers. Each of these player types has a list of traits that are associated with them. Bartle explains them as by using the suits for cards. Achievers are the diamonds because they like to search for treasure, Explorers are the spades because they dig through the game to find new things, Socializers are the hearts because they like to relate to other players, and Killers are the clubs because that is the weapon. (Bartle, 1996) Marczewski (2015) adds two additional player types, Disruptor and Player, to the mix. He explains Players as those who are in it just for the rewards and only for themselves. The Disruptors want to disrupt the gameplay of others, either in a positive or negative way. (Marczewski, 2015)

The first thing I did this week was to take a quiz to find my player type, which ended up being “The Innovator”. The full results of the test are below, including a link to the quiz. According to this quiz, I am 61% Innovator, which falls into the Explorer category from the Bartle classification. The test also categorized me as 44% “Strategist”, which fits the criteria for Achiever. I find these results to be quite accurate for myself as a gamer. I enjoy games that have exploration and achievements built in, and focus on that much more than the other two player types, killer and socializer. It is typical when taking a player type test to display traits of all player types, though usually one is much stronger than the others.

But what does player type have to do with how we gamify our classrooms? Kiang (2016) looks at the four player types and how they would behave in a classroom gaming situation. He explains Explorers as the students whose achievement is learning new knowledge, “those who value knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” He goes on to say that these are often the students who will do all of the work for a big project and then forget to turn it in because the grade isn’t as important to them as the information they learned in the project. The Achievers are the students who focus on badges, trophies, and achievements. “They are often very motivated to “beat the game” and move on.” Socializers make it a goal to make meaningful connections with other students in class. “The game is simply a backdrop for the chatting and interactions that are the true draw.” And, last but not least, are the Killers. “In the classroom, those students often are the first ones to see if they can “hack” the system, and are often willfully oblivious to the consequences to the community.” These students are usually risk-takers and don’t mind being wrong. (Kiang, 2016) By keeping these four player types in mind while designing classroom gamification, we can hopefully make an environment that is appealing to all of our students.

Even though there are so many traits to think about, creating a game that will appeal to all students doesn’t need to be overly complicated “Create a system that appeals to the four basic intrinsic motivations and user types. Make it social, make it meaningful and give people some freedom. Then, integrate a well thought out reward system (points, badges etc.).” (Marczewski, 2015) The way players are grouped can also affect they gamification system. If you group all of the Explorers together, all of the Achievers, etc, you can give each group a job that fits with their traits. You can also form groups with one of each player type, which allows student to appreciate each others’ strengths and keep the group focused on the task at hand. (Kiang, 2016)

Through my research this week, I see that it is important to identify the player types of my students so I can design a gamification experience that best fits the needs of my class. It is possible that two different class periods could have two completely different gamification experiences, based solely on the differences in player-type makeup.


Bartle, R. (1996, April). HEARTS, CLUBS, DIAMONDS, SPADES: PLAYERS WHO SUIT MUDS. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

Gamification features for all types of game player. (2015). Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/why-your-gamification-features-need-to-be-suitable-for-all-types-of-game-player/

Kiang, D. (2016). Use the Four Gamer Types to Help Your Students Collaborate – from Douglas Kiang on Edudemic – EdTechTeacher. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from http://edtechteacher.org/use-the-four-gamer-types-to-help-your-students-collaborate-from-douglas-kiang-on-edudemic/

Marczewski, A. (2015). User Types. In Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play: Gamification, Game Thinking and Motivational Design (1st ed., pp. 65-80). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Your result for The Four Player Types Test…

The Innovator

39% Ace, 22% Effector, 61% Innovator and 44% Strategist!

Innovators are players that like to “seek”, be it seeking new places, new inventions, new skills, new knowledge, and the like. Innovators are self-oriented in that their focus lies largely on their individual experience and what that experience can do for them as players. While this might make Innovators sound selfish, many Innovators enjoy working with other players and using their skills to benefit a group. However, the group interaction is not the end-all and be-all of game play for the Innovator, and it’s absence from a game is not as detrimental to the Innovator’s enjoyment as it would be to an Effector or a Strategist.
Innovators are often investigators: they are drawn to a game because of the appeal of discovery, be it the discovery of new places, new possibilities, or even uncovering plots and unraveling riddles. Innovators enjoy learning for their own sake, whether or not their knowledge might benefit a group, and sometimes might be reluctant to share what they’ve found with others under the attitude of “go find it yourself”. They are not generally hoarders, however, and are usually excited to share their passions and discoveries with others if given the opportunity. On the field, most Innovators are to some degree mildly active players, and tend to take positions that allow them to use their knowledge and skills to make sharp attacks rather than prolonged straight-on combat.

Take The Four Player Types Test at HelloQuizzy


3 responses to “Week 6: What is the implication of player type on game design?

  1. tmerculief says:

    Sarah- This is interesting, “Marczewski (2015) adds two additional player types, Disruptor and Player, to the mix. He explains Players as those who are in it just for the rewards and only for themselves. The Disruptors want to disrupt the gameplay of others, either in a positive or negative way.” I wonder if disruptor is like the killer? I also was explorer when I took the test. What you said here, Kiang (2016) looks at the four player types and how they would behave in a classroom gaming situation, made me think of my students and I thought this student is a explorer an so on. I like the idea of grouping your students by gamer type or dividing them into separate groups so they can appreciate others strengths.


  2. katemullin17 says:


    I hadn’t thought of grouping students by their gamer type for activities. In the research I found, the breakdown in player types was as follows: achievers (10%), explorers (10%), socializers (80%), killers (>1%). In a classroom of 40 kids broken into groups of 4 students, this looks like one group of goal-driven, rewards- and badge-loving achievers, one group of knowledge-seeking explorers who don’t really care about any type of reward system, and eight groups of chatty socializers eager to spend their time finding out what the latest and greatest information (likely not related to the task at hand) is, with the potential addition of one lone killer thrown in the mix somewhere, looking to wreak havoc on whatever anyone else is doing.

    Whether dividing and conquering is the best way to make groups or grouping by gamer type, I totally agree with you when you say that the gamification experience could be completely different for two classes of students, even if they are learning the same content, based on the needs of the class.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hcorriere says:

    Hi Sara,
    I liked the reassuring quote you shared that if you
    “Make it social, make it meaningful and give people some freedom”, you’ll have successful game. It has always fascinated me how classes have different personalities (I’m talking high school here where you teach the same material to several different groups.) and how as a teacher I need to learn what works and what doesn’t with the particular group. You’re so right not to underestimate group dynamics.


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