Flameseeker Chronicles: Gaming playstyles, science, and Guild Wars 2

I was curious recently about what specific personality traits or personal qualities lead to my enjoyment of MMOs in general and Guild Wars 2 in particular, especially after reading that Quantic Foundry has just conducted new research into any potential correlation between gender, age, and playstyle. The research referenced in the Daily Grind post was taken from a relatively small set of responses, but I was nevertheless prompted to consider my own playstyle and revisit my Quantic Foundry gaming profile again.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to examine my gaming profile and explain how it might relate to the type of GW2 content I choose to play, giving examples as I go to help other gamers with similar motivations consider whether GW2 might be the perfect MMO choice for them as well.

An overview of my gamer profile and GW2

Looking at the broader picture first, it’s clear to see that traditional MMOs are going to be my cup of tea, especially with such high scores in Community (96%), Mastery (92%), Creativity (83%) and Immersion (76%). I particularly enjoy the social side of MMOs, character creation and customisation, homing in on specific content strategically to sharpen my performance, and generally getting lost in a stunning virtual world for several hours at a time whenever I can.

Even in the broadest sense, I can see how Guild Wars 2 has clawed its way to the top of my MMO pile: It seamlessly prioritises many of the spheres that I find most important. The game possesses a uniquely flexible approach to the usual guild system found in MMOs, allowing me to engage with multiple guilds at any given time to maximise the potential for meaningful social engagement in-game. Collections, jumping puzzles, scaling content such as fractals, and the relatively new raid offerings all pique my interest due to my love of mastering challenging content, while the high level of character customisation and reskinning capabilities — solid enough tools to earn the game the nickname Fashion Wars — appeals to my creative side.

I was also struck my how my lowest priorities seem to be mirrored by ArenaNet’s direction for GW2: Wanton destruction is seldom a focus of a play session, and even in WvW or PvP the emphasis is placed on getting fallen players back into the fray quickly while focusing on a team’s successful strategic moves more than raw killstreaks. Competition is less a factor in GW2 than it is in many other MMORPGs due to a whole range of factors, including individual loot distribution and a particularly small gap between endgame gear tiers. Almost every type of endgame content has relatively low barriers to entry, and although these barriers are sometimes inflated by power groups setting sometimes harsh access requirements (particularly since the introduction of raids), the power gap between a freshly minted level 80 and one that is ready to explore several different endgame options is surprisingly minimal.

A closer look at my scoring


I didn’t score particularly highly in either of the included motivations in this section, though I do have to note that excitement was a far-and-away winner when comparing the two. I adore my characters in MMOs and highly value their interactions with NPCs and other characters, and while I may not specifically roleplay all the time, I don’t particularly enjoy risking my characters unnecessarily. Throwing them into a PvP meat grinder doesn’t suit me, so I value the relatively minor death penalties in Guild wars 2 and most especially enjoy the contrast between endgame playstyles that allow me a good bit of cooling down time after doing something high octane or fast-paced such as PvP. GW2 is not a top recommendation for either area in the action sphere.


It isn’t at all surprising to me that my community score places in the high 90s. I particularly enjoy the freeform non-grouped group mechanics in GW2 because I can enjoy the vast majority of the game’s content without breaking immersion with set group constraints or by involving cumbersome, unintuitive grouping UIs. The only niggle I have is that map “taxis” need to be employed to get groups that are in any way large onto the same instance of a map, which is a severe annoyance in a game with such fluid, freeform grouping mechanics. I’m not a naturally competitive person and tend to benchmark myself against my own criteria and previous performances rather than wishing to compete in leagues or divisions to prove myself better than other players, and I feel that Guild Wars 2 is an excellent title for the less competitive amongst us since any form of ranking is entirely optional.

2016-10-18-2The mastery area is perhaps the most surprisingly high section in my report, particularly since I enjoy the accessibility of Guild Wars 2 so much. I think this is where I most use other MMOs to fill in this particular satisfaction gap, and many of my suggestions for improving GW2 seem to fall within the strategy or challenge layers. I seemingly cope with the lack of challenge or strategy by enjoying the social side of the game more than I do in other MMOs, and I appreciate that the challenge sacrifice allows for more open, incusive gameplay that I can enjoy with people who I haven’t managed to hook on any other MMO due to the barriers to meaningful endgame content they sometimes possess. If I do crave a challenge in GW2, I usually break out a jumping puzzle to change my pace and mindset significantly in order to refresh myself.

In terms of strategic gameplay, the introduction of raids has definitely helped satisfy that sphere of my gaming motivations. Raids and other forms of strategy-based group content are what hooked me on MMORPGs in the first place, so I’m glad to see that raids form a part of the GW2 endgame now. It does pain me that some players feel disconnected with the current storyline due to prior information that was locked into raids, though I do feel as though ArenaNet did its best to recap players on anything that they would have learnt in certain highend endgame pathways to compensate for the fact that not everyone wishes to engage in such “hardcore” content.


I’m not particularly power-hungry, but I do gain a great sense of satisfaction from improving my character or making what I consider to be a big achievement. This is a standout area for Guild Wars 2: There’s an almost overwhelming number of achievements to unlock as you play in any order or fashion you so desire, and I know that my personal in-game bucket list is about a mile long. I don’t feel as though I’ll ever be done with the game as a result of having nothing to do, though I can see why those who score lower than I do in the completion sphere might feel a little bit lost come endgame. Crafting legendaries gives me such a thrill, and I’m pretty sure I shed actual real-world tears when I kitted out my first character in full ascended gear. Achievement points going up slowly over time makes my heart exceedingly happy even though I definitely don’t love how other players sometimes jusdge people with lower scores as lesser, unskilled players.


Do you even Guild Wars 2 if you don’t spend an obnoxiously long time agonising over which particular shade of your favourite colour pops best on your new armour skin? I jest, of course, but the reality is that very many players spend real-world money or a big ol’ stack of hard-earned gold buying the tools of the character architect. Rebeautifying, assigning my characters a different name or gender than I did originally, and poring over a list of hundred of dyes makes my heart soar. I scored moderately highly in the discovery sphere too, which is again relevant to my favourite MMO. Every one of my toons has both professions, and I really enjoy running through my achievements list and letting my feet take me in a new direction to complete them. I also get a kick out of finding ways to stack my achievement hunting in a clever way to kill two (or sometimes more!) birds with one stone.


Immersion is everything to me in most games I play, but very few MMOs do it as well as Guild Wars 2. I get myself lost in little adventures of my own making all the time, and Massively’s own Brendan Drain can tell you how often he’s brought a cup of tea over to me only to return to find the tea stone cold and undrunk because I hadn’t even registered the interaction because I’m that zoned out of real life. The game gets massive bonus points in this area because of its lightweight UI that seldom detracts from the action (I’ll pretend that obnoxious telegraphing isn’t a thing here because I find the most immersive GW2 content isn’t all that combat-heavy) and also because of the stunning composition of its soundtrack and general sound effects throughout. I know the NPCs that fill Tyria through the little snatches of conversation I hear on my travels, and it always astounds me how much lore players can passively absorb by just getting out and about.

How I stack up against the latest research

Looking back on the latest study, we can see that Quantic Foundry hasn’t found any surprisingly strong trends in terms of gender, playstyle, or age across any of the fields, though there are some interesting observations and slight preferences to observe in the small data set. Without taking the survey myself, I can only guess at how I would have been ranked, and I am very confident that I would have been determined to fall in the Cautious Long Range camp. Knowing that I’m a 30-year-old woman, I can see that I’m not breaking any moulds here, though the statistical relevance of the very small female-weighted gender gap or tiny age increase shown for this demographic is questionable.

I was much more interested in how gamer profiles ranked up within the various playstyle categories, especially since the listed motivations for the Cautious Long Range group factor highly in my own scores. Interestingly though, the approach isn’t as heavily influenced by playstyle as the combative approaches are, which could perhaps hint at the Cautious Long Range group preferring less combat-focused titles in general when compared to the Rushing In camp. The certainly holds true for me, so I’d love it if the sample group were extended and we could gather more data in this area.

Over to you!

Breaking down the reasons why my particular personality suits Guild Wars 2 has been pretty enlightening for me, especially in terms of drawing common links between the title and other games in my library. I’m very interested in how my fellow players scored, however, and I would love to see how you enjoy the game in a different way than I do should you have a wildly different profile than mine. For this reason, I set up a group for GW2 fans to take the survey so I can have a look at how we shape up together in a purely curious, non-scientific, and for-fun-only way. I might revisit the topic in a future FSC and use the group’s surveys to feed back on what we enjoy as a collective versus what I do. As ever, share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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