Skip to main content

MMORPGs: Whatever happened to the Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades?

In his seminal 1996 paper on the motivation of players in mmo type games ("Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit Muds") Richard Bartle deduced that interaction between different player types meant that only certain types of game would result in a stable configuration. His four "stable" game configurations are: 1. Achiever / Killer dominated game, 2. Socialiser dominated game, 3. A carefully balanced game where all four player types have similar influence and 4. The degenerate case of a game with no players left.

In the few mmo's that I have played each of Bartle's stereotypes are well catered for in the early game. Achievers get the challenge of levelling up, Explorers have new content to discover, Socialisers have the fun of setting up new guilds and the games have always had some pvp element to provide entertainment for the killers.

As the games have progressed however and in particular as players have matured into end game certain Bartle stereotypes have been catered for to the exclusion of others. WOW's endgame favours achievers above all. Guild wars favours killers with a nod in the direction of explorers due to the complex evolving meta-game. Eve is probably closest to a pure Bartle configuration and favours killers and achievers in pretty much equal measure.

I have to say I find this somewhat demoralising. I am a firm believer in diversity and I think the mix of player types and game-play styles really adds to a game. I want to play in a game that conforms to type 3 on Bartle's list. I haven't played enough of Lotro to foresee where it is going to end up. I hope they don't slavishly follow the WOW road and turn into an achiever focussed raid fest. The continuous drip drip of new content gives me hope though that this will not be the case.

By the way the database of over 300,000 Bartle test respondents at Guild Cafe shows Explorers in the lead at 33% followed by achievers (26%), Killers (22%) and socialisers(20%). This appears to completely contradict Bartles position that "few people are, by nature, explorers". Apologies for deep linking to that Guild Cafe chart but I cannot find the official way to get to it from their site.

In case you are wondering I did take the test and I am rated ESAK (Achiever 40.00%, Explorer 80.00%, Killer 26.67%, Socializer 53.33%). Apparently the most poular game for people like me is Entropia Universe. God Help me.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I have taken this test before but tried again being as honest as i could...

ESKA players often see the game world as a great stage, full of things to see and people to meet. They love teaming up with people to get to the hard-to-see places, and they relish unique experiences.

Breakdown: Achiever 26.67%, Explorer 73.33%, Killer 33.33%, Socializer 66.67%

I would go more with SEAK player...
Anonymous said…
Now that's odd. Normally my theory gets criticised because surveys can't find any meaningful number of explorers, not because they find too many.

Oh well, that's academia for you.

Richard
mbp said…
Hi DM I notice that we have similar Bartle Scores except that you are more homicidal than I am. If ever we meet up in game I must remember to duck :D.

Richard you have been studying this a lot longer than I have (than anybody?) so please feel free to take my few words with a grain of salt. For what its worth though here are a couple of possible explanations for the apparent discrepancy: Firstly the test at Guild Cafe doesn't classify people as Explorers, Achievers etc it just gives everyone a rating in each category. It be that very few people are pure explorers but that lots of people like exploring a bit - giving a large aggregate explorer score. Another alternative is that audience for MMOs has changed since the mass market introduction of games like WOW. Then again it may be that the very nature of an online survey is self selecting (explorers being more likely to discover such a thing in the first place and try it out).

I wish I could dig further down into the Guild Cafe database to look at trends but for the life of me I cant figure out how to get past the front door. I only found the deep link to that pie chart by fortuitous googling.
mbp said…
oops - I have just spotted a few typos in my original post. First off I should have linked to the guild cafe chart.

Secondly I didn't really mean to say that I want to play in a Bartle type 4 game (one with no players!!!) I meant a type 3 game in which each player type has influence.

Both mistakes will now be rectified in main post.

Popular posts from this blog

My First Gaming Mouse: Logitech G300

I bought a gaming mouse yesterday a Logitech G300, here my initial thoughts. What is a gaming mouse?  There are a wide variety of devices available classified as gaming mice but a few features  seem common: 1. Wired rather than wireless: Although some high end models are wireless wired connections are just better and faster than wireless so most gaming mice stick with wired. As a bonus wired mice don't need batteries so the mouse is lighter.  2. High response rate: 1 to 2ms response rate so the mouse immediately responds to input.  2. High DPI. Gaming mice invariable boast high DPI numbers from 2,000 DPI upwards. This makes the device very responsive to the smallest movements.   3. Adjustable DPI . High DPI improves responsiveness but reduces precision so gaming mice generally allow you to adjust the DPI down for precise work such as pulling off headshots in sniper mode. Generally the mouse allows dpi to be changed on the fly by pressing a button.  4. Extr

Portal 2 two screen coop on one PC.

I mentioned before that I intended to try Portal 2 in "unofficial split screen co-op mode. Well split screen on a small computer monitor is a recipe for a headache especially when the game defies gravity as much as portal. However a minor bit of extra fiddling allowed us to drive two seperate screens from one PC. The Steam forums describes a complicated method of doing this that I couldn't get working so this simpler method which worked for me might be of use to someone. 1. First I followed the instructions in this post to get split screen multi-player working: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1847904 A minor issue not mentioned is that you need to enable the console from the keyboard/mouse options menu I am using keyboard and one wired Xbox360 controller as suggested. Getting the controller to switch to channel 2 was tricky at first but as Chameleon8 mentions plugging it out and in again during loading works. The trick for me was to do the plug / p

Android Tip 3: Sharing a Folder between multiple users of an Android device

Android has allowed multiple user logins for quite a while now. This is can be very useful for tablets which are shared by family members. Normally Android erects strict Chinese walls between users preventing them from using each others apps and viewing each others files. This is a useful security feature and ensures your kids don't mess up your work spreadsheets when screwing around on the tablet and should also prevent them from buying €1,000 worth of Clash of Candy coins on your account. Sometimes however you really do want to share stuff with other users and this can prove surprisingly difficult. For example on a recent holiday I realised that I wanted to share a folder full of travel documents with my wife. Here are some ways to achieve this. 1. If you have guaranteed internet access  then you can create a shared folder on either Dropbox or Google drive. Either of these has the great advantage of being able to access the files on any device and the great disadvantage of bein