Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Revisiting Bartle

Greetings Traveler!

I told you I would get another post out before the end of the day. I hadn't thought about WildStar too much in the past few years, now I've had two reminders in the same day.
With thanks to Thyanel, I decided to take the Bartle test again for my evening post. And like Thyanel, my score hasn't really changed much over the years. I think the player "types" that Bartle originated can be valuable as guides to design and plan a roleplaying game, particularly an MMO. However, too much emphasis on Bartle types can lead to poor design decisions, WildStar being a case in point. The result of my own test today is shown below.

The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology

You are 73% Explorer

What Bartle says:

♠ Explorers delight in having the game expose its internal machinations to them. They try progressively esoteric actions in wild, out-of-the-way places, looking for interesting features (ie. bugs) and figuring out how things work. Scoring points may be necessary to enter some next phase of exploration, but it's tedious, and anyone with half a brain can do it. Killing is quicker, and might be a constructive exercise in its own right, but it causes too much hassle in the long run if the deceased return to seek retribution. Socialising can be informative as a source of new ideas to try out, but most of what people say is irrelevant or old hat. The real fun comes only from discovery, and making the most complete set of maps in existence.

You are also:

47% Achiever

47% Socialiser

33% Killer

This result may be abbreviated as EASK

Background & Acknowledgements

The Bartle Test is based on the player types identified by the legendary Richard Bartle in his paper, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs. It is strongly recommended that you read this paper if you wish to find out more about your player type, and what it all means. Bartle revisits and expands upon these ideas in his book, Designing Virtual Worlds, which is also recommended if you wish to delve a little deeper.

The original Bartle Test was created by Erwin S. Andreasen and Brandon Downey and this implementation is based on the question data which Andreasen has made available at http://www.andreasen.org/bartle/.

As you can see, while I heavily fall in the Explorer group, I also have significant scores in both Achiever and Socializer, and occasionally might dabble in the Killer group. The folks at Carbine mistakenly (in my humble opinion) thought that players would be one or another type, when I suspect we are all more of a blend. I need to read Bartle's original paper to get more nuance, but I think it is worth noting that he was talking about (and possibly promoting) a specific type of game: Multi-User Dungeons.

As Bartle himself wrote:
Are MUDs
games? Like chess, tennis, D&D?
Yes - to achievers.
pastimes? Like reading, gardening, cooking?
Yes - to explorers.
sports? Like huntin', shooting', fishin'?
Yes - to killers.
entertainments? Like nightclubs, TV, concerts?
Yes - to socialisers.
While MMORPGs share many traits with MUDs, they are not the same. And few MMO players have ever played a MUD. As I wrote above, I do believe that Bartle types can be helpful in designing MMOs. However, they are just one of many considerations that should infuse the design of a game.
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  1. That's a fairly abstruse definition of the Explorer archetype. While the "exposing the game mechanics" thing is certainly an aspect of being an Explorer, a whole other, arguably larger part concerns visualization. Explorers like looking at things. They like to explore the games in the more obvious sense of going over the next hill to see what's there. They like to see all the zones not because there are points of interest to be ticked off a list or achievements to be racked up for going everywhere (Hi GW2!) but because not knowing what's over the next rise or round the next corner makes them itchy and unsatisfied.

    I'm wondering now how that particular version of the BArtle test defines the other three archetypes because I'm not very convinced by that one.

    1. Heh. I should have gone back and re-read Bartle's original paper before commenting - that definition is taken from it verbatim. It exemplifies the problem with the whole Bartle process, I think, which is that, as you say, it refers quite specifically to his dissection of behaviors exhibited by players in MUDs, which at the time would have been text-based games. The addition of graphics, particularly the kind of 3D near-photo-realistic ones we see today, and indeed of the vastly increased and broadened means of social interaction makes transposing the behaviors he was seeing then onto the ones we experience now somewhat problematic to say the least.

      I guess if all I had to go on were a few lines of description I might well be focused on the kind of exploratory factors in that definition but as an Explorer (87% on the test result I just did) my main interest is seeing amazing images and capturing them in screenshots. Telling people about them afterwards, which comes up over and over again in the test, is very much a secondary factor. If that was my motivation, my blog would be chock-full of guides, which it is not.

    2. Yes! I agree that applying MUD-based definitions or types to graphics-based MMORPGs is an issue. While I have no basis in MUDs, I would hope Bartle would have an accurate assessment of the genre/type. MMOs are, quite frankly, a different beast. But because people draw a line of descent from MUDs to RPGs, they think Bartle has validity. I do think there is some value to the framework, but it shouldn't be taken for granted that it's totally accurate. Or, as I said in the post, thank a given player wants the same thing out of a game every time they play.