MMORPG founding father Richard Bartle establishes new unplayer matrix
Dr Richard Bartle, best known to MMORPG players for establishing the research that ultimately led to the admittedly flawed but widely quoted “Bartle test,” spoke at Gamelab Barcelona 2017 last week with research of continuing interest to gamers: a new model for non-player types, floated by him publicly for the first time.
His original model was “insular,” he argues. “It tells you why people do play, but not why they don’t, which is often more useful.” The new matrix covers what is essentially the developer’s quest for accessibility, the “sweet spot where the game’s depth matches the player’s insight,” on a quadrant of easy vs. hard mapped over shallow vs. deep. Like Bartle, I’m not sure “rock babies and opera zombies” will catch on, but he manages to apply it convincingly to explain who buys what and why in free-to-play MMOs.
The whole slideshow is worth a look (doesn’t load in Chrome, note), though I suggest you choose to read that font ironically! With luck we’ll get a video of the whole talk at some point.
Incidentally, Bartle also blogged about meeting Richard Garriott at the event, which you might be surprised to learn marked the first time the pair had rubbed elbows. “When Richard collected his award, he invited me up onto the stage for the photo,” Bartle writes. “It was his award; he didn’t have to do that. I’d heard before that he’s a class act; now I know for sure that he is.”