Massively Overthinking: Let’s play with the Gamer Motivation Model

Over the winter holidays, we wrote about game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry, which has published what it calls its “Gamer Motivation Model” — essentially, it’s an updated Bartle test for modern gamers that groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations.” More recently, co-founder Dr. Nick Yee — yes, that Nick Yee — has discussed how gamer motivations align with personality traits.

In light of the fun we had taking the Bartle test a few months ago and the news that Bartle himself is publishing new books offering insight into our genre, we thought we’d take the Gamer Motivation test ourselves, share our results and our thoughts on the test, and provoke you to do the same.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur):

Calm, Proficient, Ambitious, Social, Immersed, and Creative
Action 29%, Immersion 17%, Achievement 55%, Mastery 92%, Creativity 90%, Social 95% [Link]

Wow, you can’t half tell I’m in EVE Online player with those scores; I clearly don’t value action or achievement very much and prefer difficult-to-master games that reward careful planning and social structure. The low Immersion score is a bit odd because I actually value immersion in a game’s world a lot, but this score reflects that I don’t really care about the NPC story in games (in fact, I only scored 2% in Story). I much prefer open-world games where you can become immersed in a well-constructed universe and make your own stories. The high Mastery and Creativity scores show that the types of game I’m drawn to are those with high difficulty and skill caps and that require some creative problem-solving, so it’s no surprise I’m drawn to and even developing a space 4X game.

Most of the time in MMOs I can be found figuring out the most efficient ways to build characters or trying to break the game mechanics, which has served me well in the past. Even in games that are relatively action-oriented like Diablo III, I found myself testing builds and figuring out how the maths of various mechanics actually worked under the hood rather than just following the conventional wisdom. The 95% Social score makes sense too as I’ve always felt games aren’t really worth playing unless you can share them with someone, be it playing directly with friends or just discussing the game on a forum and being part of an online community. All in all, I think this test is much better than the Bartle test and it does break down into further categories that make for some interesting reading, but it’s basically just a way of quantifying what we already know. There are no big revelations to be had here, the site basically asks us what kind of gamer we are and then tells us what kind of gamer we are. It is nice to have some numbers though :D.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog):

Analytical, Relaxed, Immersed, and Creative
Creativity 93%, Social 64%, Action 64%, Immersion 59%, Mastery 34%, Achievement 16% [Link]

I’m not entirely surprised by my results. I get obsessed with tinkering with games, with modding, with seeing what I can do, what happens if I click here, what can we see if we go there. I think I’ve actually become more that way over time; I began gaming as pure roleplayer, then became much more obsessed with “achieving” according to the game’s rules, and in the last few years I’ve become more focused on games as a tool and games as a toy. It’s always been about escapism, just different kinds, I suppose. I’d like to take the test again next week, next month, and see how much my answers change. Somehow when I got to the end of the test I felt as if it was too short, as if it hadn’t asked the questions it needed to ask to profile me because it didn’t really address my preferred gameplay combinations and lumped a lot of broad gameplay types together (how much does a “creative” who likes to write fanfic have in common with a “creative” who likes to test plugins or a “creative” who decorates in-game houses for real-world cash?). Did anyone else feel that way? And what about those descriptions of our qualities — did they seem so generic (and universally flattering) as to be tricking us with the Forer effect?

high-level-motivation-map-1

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog):

Action-Oriented, Analytical, Completionist, Gregarious, Deeply Immersed, and Creative
Immersion 90%, Creativity 81%, Action 70%, Mastery 58%, Achievement 53%, Social 46%

I said when we took the Bartle test that humans don’t really fit into a number of categories, and I still stand by it now; I think this test does a better job of defining someone’s overall preferences, but I don’t think it’s painting the whole picture so much as slices of the picture and how those slices interact with other slices. You’d think that I tend to be antisocial by those numbers, for example, when I’m an active roleplayer and tend to play a lot of games in which I have a very strong social component; it’s just not something that I consider a core element of whether or not the game is fun to play. You certainly wouldn’t expect me to be a longtime fan of the Sims series.

Then again, some of these stats are interesting to break down just the same. I wouldn’t call myself action-oriented so much as I would say that I want my gameplay to be fun by itself rather than tedious – I’m happy to click through day after day in the life of a Sim, as long as I’m having fun with each of those clicks. Similarly, I tend to be on the analytical side of things because I want to understand how these systems work independent of whether or not I feel like devoting the time necessary to mastering the systems in question. So there’s some interesting stuff to unpack, even if the categorization is another story.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog):

Calm, Spontaneous, Relaxed, Independent, Grounded, and Creative.
Action 10%, Social 11%, Mastery 13%, Achievement 19%, Creativity 74%, Immersion 34%

I wouldn’t argue about this — story, customization, and world environments are very important to me. I do enjoy chatting and achieving, but I guess those take a back seat to what I consider the backbone of MMOs (and all games, really) for me.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog):

Calm, Proficient, Relaxed, Social, Deeply Immersed, and Creative
Action 25%, Achievement 29%, Mastery 79%, Creativity 86%, Social 90%, Immersion 93% [Link]

I’ve always liked Nick Yee and his projects. His Daedalus project is one of my favorites because it focuses on MMOs. But this particular one focuses on gaming as a whole. It’s interesting when comparing it to Bartle’s Taxonomy. First, this is a more up-to-date test, but it’s missing some of the nuances that both the Daedalus and Bartle’s tests have. For instance, where do multiplayer games even fit in this test? And then you even break it down further and ask things like where to roleplayers or raiders or PvPers even fit into Quantic tests?

Those kinds of questions make me wonder if it’s even possible to use the results of this test practically. Can I use it to find like-minded gamers? Maybe, but with the focus on single-player, it’d be difficult to find a partner or group. As a developer, I could maybe use it to help create a game, but since it’s based on public opinion and not actual play-testing, it’d be difficult to know the usefulness of the results. One thing it does seem good for is finding that single-player game that might be a great fit for you.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog):

Analytical, Completionist, Gregarious, Deeply Immersed, and Creative
Action 41%, Achievement 23%, Mastery 67%, Creativity 90%, Social 63%, Immersion 80%

If you take just the description that this test spits out, I think it feels fairly accurate. I liked how the questions had varying degrees of possible responses, acknowledging that there isn’t always (or even often) black-or-white, choose-door-one-or-door-two kind of answer to the questions. However, just like the Bartle test, I found this test to be ineffective at cornering your gaming personality in the percentages as displayed.

What is most curious is how those aggregate percentages were compiled from the individual ones. For instance, I got 91% for completion and 1% for power, and that somehow worked out to 23% for achievement? The same goes for my community score (97%) and my competition score (12%); how does this make me less social simply because I answered that I didn’t particularly like duels or beating other people? And someone please explain how on earth I of all people could score only 52% on story? How on earth is this test weighted? If I look at the broken-down components offered in the analysis, I think the results are a little more reflective.

Tina Lauro (@purpletinabeans):

Calm, Proficient, Completionist, Gregarious, Deeply Immersed, and Creative.
Mastery 89%, Creativity 85%, Immersion 74%, Social 63%, Achievement 45%, Action 19%. [Link]

chartI looked closely at the buzzwords associated with each subsection to see if I would use those words to describe my playstyle, and I found that the test summed me up quite accurately. My breakdown in the plainest terms represents a playstyle that favours excitement over destruction, opts for a heavy strategic component paired with a moderate challenge, desires completion rather than power, and a community emphasis that far surpasses competition. This breakdown isn’t very surprising to me: I adore strategy games, social gameplay, and a solid challenge while I avoid heavy competition and power playing. I was perhaps a little bit shocked that the mastery and creativity sections were my highest scoring areas, particularly since I would always say that social aspects of gaming are the most important to me. I think it’s because competition was lumped under that banner, so my whopping 97% for community was heavily diluted by the 12% I scored in competition. I don’t feel that hating competitive games makes me less social, so I agree with MJ on that front.

I’m really interested to see if the commenters and staff who scored similarly to me in the Bartle test also come out with a similar gaming profile in this test. Is Bartle too broad and rigid in the choices it presents? Will this test further distinguish the subtle differences between the many players contained within each of Bartle’s branches? The comments will most definitely be an interesting read here!

Patreon Donor Archebius:

Analytical, Relaxed, Social, Immersed, and Creative.
Action 37%, Social 73%, Mastery 49%, Achievement 7%, Creativity 90%, Immersion 62%

I agree with the big words at the top: I tend to enjoy games that are more strategic, I’m not very “competitive,” and I will play anything if I’m doing it with friends. If I’m alone, then it better suck me in! However, it does seem to be pretty harsh in how it assigns percentages. Immersion is very important to me, but not necessarily big sweeping stories and intricate backgrounds for every little kid looking for his ghost parents. Because it averages worldbuilding and storylines to get immersion, I feel like I got a much lower percentage than is accurate.

Overall though, pretty good for a snapshot of my preferences!

Your turn! You can take the test on the Quantic Foundry website. Yes, it’s free.

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68 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: Let’s play with the Gamer Motivation Model"

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camelotcrusade
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camelotcrusade

I just found out about this article and I want to play too.  I was surprised I didn’t get higher on the social (I love to chat) but when I saw it was a composite of competitive and community that explained.  I got 8% competitive and 94% community.   Hugs to all but I’ll wait my turn haha.  One thing I liked about the result was it how it clearly showed I value setting over story.  That’s what I keep telling my friends about why I liked the Star Wars prequels.  They’ll bang on about terrible dialog and questionable plot and I’ll just blink and say something about how I don’t worry about that stuff, I was too busy looking at the visual feast in front of me and did you see this creature/weapon/ship/planet etc.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

NickYee schmidtcapela 
My main issue with this being the result isn’t about myself understanding it, but that since I don’t fit those motivation pairs, a developer that uses them as a tool to understand the potential audience and thus position the game in the market will likely miss me, and others that in a similar way have motivations that don’t map nicely into your pairs.

Admittedly, that would likely only happen if a dev (or a publisher) were to give a large importance to your model without actually understanding it. Plus, since in any case I prefer games that I can mod to my hearts content, I can often “fix” the games I play to be closer to what I want anyway; it’s why I love Bethesda games on the PC, but wouldn’t bother even starting them on a console.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

breetoplay agemyth  No idea how that popped up as my first… :( Maybe it meant passive aggressive and if so it picked up on that better than I usually can >.< Stupid computers.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

agemyth Aggressive?!

magogjack
Guest
magogjack

ManastuUtakata magogjack Just my paranoia showing through.

magogjack
Guest
magogjack

Sorry, I apolgize for suggesting you took money for this, I still don’t trust it, but I really didn’t want to insult anyone.

TimothyTierless
Guest
TimothyTierless

Hurm, so I score as the worst, least motivated PVPer, in fact looking at my profile I appear to be the very opposite of a PVPer BUT I’m 95% in “creative” and there is no more creative opponent on earth than the human animal, hence why LOVE PVP MMOs, they immerse me, they keep things dangerous and excited and most of all-I’m continuously impressed by the creative combat situations.

TimothyTierless
Guest
TimothyTierless

NickYee TimothyTierless  Makes sense, I care not for such things as min-maxing and the traditional concept of power :D

Funny you mention Fallout 4. I’m about 30 hours in and haven’t completed a single quest LOL. (e-fist bumps Nick)

Valkyrie Noel
Guest
Valkyrie Noel

Honestly I am not really surprised. My primary enjoyment is a mastery of a game at the highest level with a group of people. End-game activities; primarily competitive PvP and raiding/dungeons. I prefer real time games/classes that have a higher APM during their ability rotations.Action-Oriented, Proficient, Ambitious, Social, and Immersed

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Just had to add a link to xkcd and his mouse over on the comic is priceless.

https://xkcd.com/693/

NickYee
Guest
NickYee

TimothyTierless “Relaxed” comes from a lower-than-average Achievement score (so low in Power and Completion)–i.e., you’re not particularly obsessed with min-maxing, leveling up quickly, finishing every mission, etc.

“Immersed” comes from high Fantasy but low Story. So it’s exactly like you guessed, this would happen if you like taking on the role of another person/character in a fantasy world, but you don’t want a pre-defined narrative that boxes you in. For me, for example, I like wandering and imagining my own mini-adventures in Fallout 4, but I can’t stand the “I must find my son” story arc.

NickYee
Guest
NickYee

schmidtcapela The 6 motivation pairs group together moderately well-correlated variables, but divergences aren’t particularly rare. This is the “level of abstraction” issue I was alluding to. So at a high-level, the 6 motivation clusters appear in the data, but this doesn’t apply to every gamer (as your and other gamers’ profiles illustrate).

Would it have been helpful to get a text alert box on your profile stating this explicitly. Something like: “We’ve detected some interesting divergences in your motivation scores. Instead of focusing on the radar graph, see the details of your 12 motivation scores below for a better representation of your gaming style.” Or would that have made things more confusing?

TimothyTierless
Guest
TimothyTierless

NickYee Thinking about it I bet its because I hate being told what my story is but I love coming up with my own character and story. I’m guessing that my answers about pre-defined characters and story may have skewed things.

NickYee
Guest
NickYee

Vexia You pretty much nailed the underlying logic and decision tree for the descriptive words. We wanted those textual markers to highlight the most salient motivations, but also surface any underlying divergences (community vs. competition, etc.), and to have 6 max per gamer.

The group-based profile is an interesting idea. And our intuition has also been that it’s the aggregate information where this gets really interesting. So for example, the data allows us to generate demographic/motivation profiles for a large number of game titles: http://quanticfoundry.com/2015/09/04/game-audience-profiles/

TimothyTierless
Guest
TimothyTierless

Vexmaiden LOL apparently u dont like gaming after all!

TimothyTierless
Guest
TimothyTierless

NickYee I’m curious to know what the criteria is for immersion and relaxed? Those are the only two areas of the test that seem different than I consider myself, not that I know myself better than the test-who really knows themselves right? ;)

TimothyTierless
Guest
TimothyTierless

Immersion is wrong but the rest sound about right. I’m very into escaping to another world. Its what I MMORPG, not if only MMORPGs can remember they used to be worlds to live in…

strangesands
Guest
strangesands

Calm, Proficient, Relaxed, Independent, and Deeply Immersed.
Sounds about right!

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

NickYee 
My highest gripe with the model is that either I’m a very unusual person, or the way you group the scores in your mid-level clusters is out of whack. In each of the mid-level clusters my higher score was over twice my lower one, and in a few cases the difference was far higher (as in, 95% completion to 1% power, or 93% discovery to 6% design).

Going one by one:
– You grouped a desire to destroy things with a liking for action. I love action, but I actually dislike destroying things; I will do it if the game requires it, but in so doing immersion will often be broken for me.

– You grouped the desire for challenge with enjoying devising and implementing strategies. I love challenge, and I don’t mind low level strategic play, but I often find higher grade planning to be boring. I enjoy far more to jump into the fray repeatedly, seeing how things go and changing my approach with each failure, than actually planning things out.

– You grouped completion and power. I’m a completionist and usually won’t rest until I have uncovered every scrap of content the game has to offer, but the only use I have for power is as a tool to better collect things. I don’t enjoy power for power’s sake, and in fact, since I like a challenge, I will often intentionally handicap myself.

– You grouped competition with community. While I do enjoy social contact, including PvP, I don’t care at all about whether I’m better than someone else, and get as much enjoyment from losing in PvP as I get from winning.

– You grouped fantasy (being immersed in the game) with story. But I don’t really require being immersed to enjoy a story. I’m into reverse-engineering, even when it comes to my reading, so I typically love a well written story more for taking it apart and figuring out how the authors did it than for immersing myself in it.

– You grouped discovery (AKA tinkering with the game systems) with design. I don’t really care about design, about making my character/vehicle/house/whatever unique or expressing myself through it, but figuring out what makes the game tick is often enough my main motivation to play a game.

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

h4 Snipping tool from Windows and saving as jpeg. :)

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

No real surprise for me.

Proficient, Completionist, Deeply Immersed, and Creative.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Vexmaiden breetoplay 
Pole vaulting…if that’s what your avatar suggests. Perhaps they missed out on concentration and determination to get up and over that ridiculously high set bar. Which can be also strong assets for gaming.

Vexmaiden
Guest
Vexmaiden

schmidtcapela Oh, I realize it wasn’t a “test”, that’s why I said “If this was a test”. 

Some time ago I was “tested” using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and the result was INFP. I wonder if the motivation models have any strong connection to personality type indicators. I’d find those results interesting.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

agemyth ManastuUtakata 
…when I remove the grey strands that is, <3

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

breetoplay Vexmaiden 
The “test” isn’t really a test. Rather, it asks you how you see yourself and matches that to the categories. As far as being a real test, that Bartle test linked here in the past was far better.

(And, just for reference, that Bartle test has nothing to do with Bartle himself, apart from trying to fit the players into the archetypes Bartle defined.)
I’m not saying the motivation model is bad or wrong, mind. I merely mean that the test part of the research doesn’t seem to be as developed as that Bartle test.

Vexmaiden
Guest
Vexmaiden

tazuras My discovery score was 30%. Seems low to me. However, I’m not a gamer who just wanders around for no reason other than to just “see”, so I supposed that influenced the result.

My profile:  https://goo.gl/mW9Ul6

tazuras
Guest
tazuras

Vexmaiden breetoplay Given your description I would think you would have a high discovery score which would increase your creativity score.  What did you score for discovery?

Vexmaiden
Guest
Vexmaiden

Veldan breetoplay Vexmaiden Hah! Anyone who knows me would definitely suggest otherwise. I breathe gaming :P  It is very interesting result, indeed.

tazuras
Guest
tazuras

Calm, Analytical, Driven, Independent, Immersed, and Creative.  Pretty spot on.
A friend of mine said something interesting, he said “Too bad there isn’t a troll category”  He was probably joking but I really think this should be in the survey, social category.  It is kind of negative, I admit, but I do think it motivates a lot of gamers.

Vexmaiden
Guest
Vexmaiden

breetoplay All I can say is I game a lot. I play a very large selections of games – from RPGs to simulations to MMOs. I like to try out everything in a game, and I love games that offer unique game play options (like diplomacy in Vanguard, RIP). I thrive on experiencing a game rather than focusing on achieving its ultimate goals, although I usually end up there eventually.

I suspect my profile is odd because I don’t fit into any normal gamer motivation personalities, as you suggested.

Veldan
Guest
Veldan

breetoplay Vexmaiden I was just wondering about this too. No matter how I look at it, the graph does seem to indicate that Vexmaiden enjoys gaming less than most other people.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

ManastuUtakata Hey, gnomes live a long time. Just try to translate it to human years. That would be, what, 23-25 years old? ;)
We all know that pink hair is 100% natural.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

h4 Livefyre hates vector graphics.

agemyth
Guest
agemyth

Aggressive, Analytical, Relaxed, Independent, Deeply Immersed, and Inquisitive

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

breetoplay ManastuUtakata magogjack 
It was a very serious accusation at least. Which appears to be a wilfully ignorant troll that’s unable to be backed up.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Vexmaiden breetoplay I realize the percentages are supposed to show you in relation to what other gamers score, but hmmm. Does this show that most people vote either really low or really high on each scale, and you vote in the middle? Does it show that you aren’t motivated by anything they asked about? What does motivate you to game, what did they fail to pick up on? Obviously you are highly motivated by something or you wouldn’t be on a niche gaming blog. Very interesting.

BryanCole
Guest
BryanCole

Action-Oriented, Spontaneous, Driven, Independent, Deeply Immersed, and Practical:
Action 95%,  Immersion 75%, Achievement 73%, Creativity 18% , Social 17%, Mastery 14%

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

magogjack 
I was going to ask before the moderation where were you getting that from. But if you do decide to answer this, you better be real damn polite about it.

Vexmaiden
Guest
Vexmaiden

breetoplay LOL, I know, right? I was a little shocked when I saw the results. Just gonna start calling myself “The Zen Gamer” :P

Esoteric Coyote
Guest
Esoteric Coyote

Vexmaiden Jeez I thought mine was bad, Didn’t break over 70% on anything.  Bro fist for a fellow “Calm, Spontaneous, Relaxed, Independent”.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

quark1020 carson63000 (I’m kidding <3)

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

quark1020 carson63000comment image

Esoteric Coyote
Guest
Esoteric Coyote

Calm, Spontaneous, Relaxed, Independent, and Expressive

Strangepowers
Guest
Strangepowers

Why was the board wiped?

Vexia
Guest
Vexia

Calm, Analytical, Relaxed, Gregarious, Deeply Immersed, and Creative
Action 13% (Destruction 23%, Excitement 11%), Mastery 59% (Challenge 34%, Strategy 79%), Achievement 6% (Completion 33%, Power 2%), Social 68% (Competition 17%, Community 97%), Immersion 93% (Fantasy 94%, Story 86%), Creativity 67% (Discovery 46%, Design 75%)
I included all 12 components because I feel like the 6 scores themselves aren’t necessarily very valuable. I do, however, think the descriptive words are quite useful even though they don’t quantify anything about the person taking the test. For example, regarding the social component, some people get the descriptive word “Social” which I think encompasses a more balanced focus on both competition and community whereas others get “Gregarious” which would skew more favorably toward the community element rather than competition. I imagine that it would be possible to simply get “Competitive” or something similar as a result. On the other hand, people for whom the social element isn’t a strong motivator don’t have any adjectives related to that group at all. I think that probably has more real-world application than the 68% I got in social. Looking through things, I don’t honestly give much weight to the 6 different percentages; as far as I’m concerned they should be the least of one’s focus.
What real-world applications could a test like this have? On a personal level, I think most people aren’t going to be surprised by their results. It could be used to recommend games based on your core motivations, but again, I don’t see any surprises there, at least not yet. What I think would be interesting is to give the test to your gaming group/partners/guild mates and take a look at their detailed results. From there, you could select games or activities that would synergize well with your group or divide up tasks to people based on their strengths.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Vexmaiden Hah! What did you have to answer to get ALL of those to score so low??

Vexmaiden
Guest
Vexmaiden

Hmm…    Calm, Spontaneous, Relaxed, Independent, Grounded, and Practical

When I look at the graph, somehow it seems like if this was a test, I failed.. LOL

quark1020
Guest
quark1020

carson63000 Doing un-fun things to argue with people who think its un-fun, but are completely wrong?

Hell, an mmo forum is a mini-game in of itself.

carson63000
Guest
carson63000

Three clusters of motivations?

1. Doing un-fun things in order to replace pixels with different pixels on a stat sheet
2. Doing un-fun things in order to whine on forums about how un-fun they are
3. .. what’s the third?

Makhiel
Guest
Makhiel

crackfox It’s a percentile, if you have 1% in one category it means 99% of people scored higher. FWIW I have 58% Completion and 0% Power, that gives me only 2%.

wpDiscuz