Extra Credits explains Bartle’s Taxonomy and its application

    
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The generally excellent Extra Credits series occasionally touches on MMORPGs and their various systems has a pair of new videos out that might be of interest to you.

The first explores Bartle’s Taxonomy, which you might know as Bartle’s Test or Bartle’s Gamer Types. The video traces how Bartle came up with the categories and how those categories define how and why we play. The second tackles the application of these types of players and the challenge of balancing an MMO ecosystem to meet all of their needs.

You can watch both videos after the jump.

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Veldan
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Veldan

RichardBartle I can relate to this very much. I would classify myself mainly as an achiever, and have tried to explain many times to others why I dislike or even hate it when my achievements are trivialized by F2P models, i.e. other people achieve by paying what I achieve by playing. Mostly, I cannot convince anyone. Might this be because the people I’m trying to convince are of a different player type, and will never understand how I feel about gameplay?

digi_owl
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digi_owl

RichardBartle digi_owl That seem to mix killers and socializers together…

RichardBartle
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RichardBartle

dewdodu Well in research terms my work was “grounded”, which is the excuse used to say that it comes from the observation of behaviour on the ground. At least with that you know you’re getting opinion presented as fact; far worse is the research that tries to bamboozle the reader with statistics, presenting something with a p-value of 0.05 as significant when the associated r-value is only .15 or thereabouts.

Player types aren’t the same as temperaments. Just because there are four of them, that doesn’t mean they map onto one another. They don’t map onto Jung (Myers-Briggs) or Keirsey, either, although people have tried (see http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6474/personality_and_play_styles_a_.php for one of the more grandiose attempts at a unified theory). The reason player types don’t map onto these categorisations is that they are about personality, whereas Player Types are about fun. A melancholic can be any player type. An introvert can be any player type (including socialiser). How you seek fun may be moderated by your personality, but what you find fun isn’t defined by it. Also, people (adults) change player type over time, but they don’t change personality over time; Player Type theory is a model, not a categorisation (ie. it has moving parts).

Inventing four-type graphs is indeed as easy as you suggest. I give some examples in this talk: http://mud.co.uk/richard/GamificationSummit.pdf . Easy doesn’t mean useful, though. The reason that Player Type theory has lasted as long as it has is because apparently it’s still useful to designers. It’s not so useful when people misinterpret it (for example, saying that it sucks because it didn’t work in WildStar would be unfair, because it was misapplied in WildStar). If you do understand what it’s saying, though, it seems it’s still relevant.

This isn’t to say that you couldn’t design an MMO around the Four Temperaments or the Big Five any other personality system you wanted. However, it is to say that if you did that you’d get a different MMO than if you designed it around Player Types.

Richard

dewdodu
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dewdodu

RichardBartle dewdodu I get the fact with any creative project you have to reach a close system that is inevitable wrong but my disappointment is that it SHOULD have been blown out of the waters in six month, its parallel to the temperaments, zodiacs, or “what kind of pony are you” noted swiftly. It should have been taken with a great heap of skepticism but instead is extolled as design gospel, with players trying to label themselves pretty chill X and that this toxic asshole they know as Y *cough*Killer*cough*, Forer’s in full effect. It sadden me that the lack of rigor isn’t even shocking at this point, people will always be a sucker for anything that’s psychobabble.

I’ve always found the hypothesis to be pretty harmless so, Ah well, Whatever. Its fallacious and specious, but I do not detect sophistry and I all to say is that you have my respect(if that even worth anything) and wishes more developers provided commentary in the creative process(yes I’ve tried Gamasutra). I don’t think congratulations however are in order, it chills me to bone that the lack of quality(and fair I might add) pushback.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Sorenthaz RichardBartle Yeah, there’s way too damn much of this “old stuff is bad because it’s old” garbage in this genre, compounded by a distrust of academia/science born of ignorance. There was Hyperspace Beacon last year where Larry broke down SWTOR content by Bartle archetypes, and someone showed up like “lawl who’s Bartle” and then acted like an idiot when we explained to him what a simple google search would have done. He came back like “well it’s old and outdated so it doesn’t matter,” and how do you even argue with something so out of touch? I was mortified and embarrassed, but Bartle was all class.
I get that not everyone loves MMOs and knows (or remembers) the backstory of it all like those of us who write/read about it on a daily basis, but god damn, if you’re not going to take the time to appreciate how we all got here and the fundamental research behind how our hobby works, fine, but in such a case, sit down and shut up because you’re not adding to the discussion anyway.
Grrrrrr. :P

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

RichardBartle Sorenthaz  I’ve grown more and more wary of F2Ps myself.  I had a period where I dipped into a few mobile games recently, but they mostly felt like shallow distractions and I often hit walls where I’d have to pay to get past them or else spend far too much time doing repetitive things to get further with there really being no light at the end of the tunnel because the whole point of games like those seem to be focused on keeping people in that tunnel for as long as possible with payment only speeding up the travel a bit.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

RichardBartle dewdodu I hope that eventually MMOs can maybe reach somewhere near MUD levels in terms of capabilities.  Doubt that will happen any time soon, but when I played two MUDs earlier this year (having never touched them before, but a friend talked me into it) I was blown away by how much depth and creativity there was to them despite how simple they seemed as text-based games.  Yeah of course folks can do a lot more when they don’t have graphics/audo/etc. to constrain them, but it feels like something went wrong somewhere when the big AAA MMOs are costing millions and yet it feels like they’ve been losing more systems/features/depth compared to gaining and expanding those things.  Though I guess that applies to video games in general as they’ve traded depth and complexity for better presentation (graphics/audio/controls/voice-acting/etc.) as time goes on and “AAA” games cost more and more to produce.  And I’m speaking pretty broadly as there are quite a few exceptions out there and it’s just my opinion of things.

RichardBartle
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RichardBartle

Sorenthaz I’m not worried about negative comments per se; given that I’ve had death threats in the past, a few scornful words from someone who wants to show how big they are by being rude to an old-timer don’t bother me. It’s tiresome when I have to fire-fight and spend hours answering comments from people who are invariably arguing against what they think I must have said, rather than what I actually said, but obviously that’s not the case here. People seem quite civil!

I’m still not a fan of F2P if it has a shred of gameplay influence in it. If people want to pay for changes to the dressing, sure, but not the gameplay as it attacks achievers (well, it annoys them when other people do it, not necessarily when they do it themselves). This is bad enough in MMOs, but in regular games when the only people it affects are the only people playing, it undermines the concept of fairness that’s at the heart of play.

Richard

RichardBartle
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RichardBartle

Serrenity Well if you want to email me a pointer to it, I’ll have another look (or, if I missed it, a first look).

RichardBartle
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RichardBartle

dewdodu I was aware of the Four Temperaments when I did the analysis that led to Player Types, and if I thought they were the same I’d have couched my findings in those terms instead – it would have been a much easier sell.

As for fallacious pseudo-psychology, well I’m not a trained psychologist so yes, it’s going to be pseudo-psychology at best and specious nonsense at worst. I didn’t care when I published the theory, though: my main aim was to get across to designers that there were different kinds of players who played for different reasons, and that (what would become known as) MMOs need a dash of all of them to be healthy. Hard though it may be to believe today, but in the past most designers designed MMOs that they, personally, wanted to play. The point of my paper was to tell them that they might perhaps consider designing MMOs that people in general would want to play.

I didn’t expect the theory to last more than 6 months before someone blew it out of the water with a better one, but that was OK as a better theory means a better game. To date, though, no-one has come up with a better theory (in the sense of being more use to MMO designers), as apparently my analysis was better than I thought it was. Nevertheless, I live in hope that a better theory will one day be developed and we’ll get better MMOs as a result.