Tell me what you need and I’ll tell you what player you are: the different types of players in Gamification

Users, in their role of players, are at the center of every Gamification strategy. What are they looking for in games? What is it that entertains them?

You can find out more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation.”

The purpose of Gamification, as already seen in previous articles, is to build motivational levers, to define a model of digital user involvement.

In the  article regarding the dynamics of Gamification, we already analyzed which are the desires and the needs that people try to satisfy when they play, and, consequently, which are the levers to push to motivate users to carry out certain actions.

It is obvious that users are at the center of every game design project and, because of this, in the definition of the target and in the planning of the actual experience, it is necessary to understand which types of person – player we are interested in and which strategies we should start to exploit their motivations.

At the beginning of any Gamification campaign, the preliminary activities to be defined are:

  • Business metrics to guide the game objectives
  • Users and their roles as players
  • Desired actions that lead to succesful situations or win states
  • Feedback mechanics
  • Incentives and awards

Analyzing the users and knowing the motivations that push them to play are fundamental actions that allow us to identify the best Gamification solutions and techniques to meet certain needs rather than others.


In this somewhat dated but always interesting  articleRichard Bartle try to create a taxonomy of the so-called MUD players (i.e. “Multi-User Dungeons”). Regardless of the kind of game mentioned, Bartle’s considerations are interesting for all game designers.

Following a series of tests, Bartle highlights four fundamentals types of MUD players, based on the interests they show in-game.
There are four main contexts: getting something inside the game, exploring the game world, socializing with others and imposing oneself on others.

Bartle gives the various types of player a name based precisely on the activity they prefer, dividing them in: AchieversExplorersSocializersKillers.

It must also be said that these categories are not rigid and often people display characteristics falling in more than one definition but, nevertheless, there is always a dominant context.


This category of users plays with the ultimate goal of collecting levels and equipment and advancing in any other measure of progression within the game. They are ready to do anything to receive the recognition of their efforts.
Achievers are mainly engaged by games that allow them to gain bonus when completing their quests or, in a multiplayer context, that let them show their progress and their abilities to the other players.
Important for the game designer is to always provide variable objectives to be achieved: in fact, a constant push is needed to ensure the affiliation of these players to the experience, increasing their engagement over time and allowing them to display the feats they have unlocked to all the community.

Explores are those which prefer to employ their time on the gamified experience by discovering new features, by creating their personalized levels and, in general, by demonstrating their knowledge. These players are mostly engaged by the possibility to explore all the potentialities of the game.
They love to be free to move as they prefer, exploring the world around them. These players always get a positive feeling by discovering new areas and trying out all the possible combination in the game. The Explorers like those experiences and those games that never stop to amaze them and are always in expansion, allowing them to keep finding new knowledges to share within the community (increasing their own prestige).

The Socializer is primarily interested in playing for the social facet of gamified experiences, seeing a game just as an instrument to get the maximum image return through the creation of a web of contacts. For the Socializer, the people and the relationships are the focal point of the entire game experience.
Because of this, to effectively engage these players, we need to offer them the maximum possibility to interact, expanding and increasing their interpersonal relationships. This type of players may be interested in games like the Fable or the Mass Effect sagas, which allow many interactions with the game itself; but it is in the opportunities offered by multiplayer that Socializers give their best, being able to count on a network of contacts with which they can interweave even closer relations.

The Killers have only one purpose in mind: their supremacy on the opponent. They compete with the other players to succeed; they don’t want to be feared or hated, instead, they try to excel directly in competition with others.
On one hand, the Killers can become dangerous elements that want to excel at all costs on their opponents, on the other hand these users push for a cleaner competition, learning from “enemies” to be able to improve along them. The first impression of most Killers relegates them to individuals who eliminate any relationship in games, but is a wrong prejudice: they often appear as unparalleled heroes (if they succeed) or as funny and shrewd figures (if they play the role of “trollers”).


It is therefore necessary to pay attention to the personalities of the relevant public in order to create interesting and functional gamified experiences, able to satisfy different desires and needs.

Understanding the own and specific core drives of the users we want to involve is therefore the first and most important step that must be taken in creating a winning engagement strategy.

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