The Implication of Player Types in Gamification

There are many reasons that people play games. Beginning in 1990 Richard Bartle proposed four different reasons that people might play in MultiUserDungeons/Domains (MUDs). The four types are: Killers, Socializers, Achievers and Explorers (Bartle, 1996).  Nick Yee built on this idea researching players of MMORGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) to identify, among other ideas, the motivations of playing. He found overlap in the types of players and that the competitive element was present in all 3 categories he defined, not a separate element. Dixon (2011) suggests that we think of player personas and then we “don’t have to be too concerned with differentiating between motivation, behaviour or preferences”, but can use the ideas of different player experiences to guide development.

The research on player types  has mostly taken place in digital gaming and the replication in  the classroom lacks research (Dixon, 2011). In practical application trial and error will play a role in game development as the researchers continue their work.

Strain (2015) offers some tips for accommodating player types:

  • For  Achievers offer badges, points and vary the length of achievements to maintain interest. 
  • For the socially motivated, celebrate successes with leader boards and other public recognitions.
    For Explorers, provide opportunities to unlock esoteric aspects of the game and allow side quests
  • For Killers (or the competitively motivated) ensure competition particularly, with stakes.

Knowing that these types will overlap a teacher can know that in the gamified classroom there are many reasons and ways that students enjoy learning. It’s important to consider the different student personalities and to build game elements that entice students who will be motivated for different reasons.


Bartle, R. (1996). Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades: Players who Suit MUDs. Retrieved October 10, 2016 from

Dixon, D. (11 May, 2011). Player Types and Gamification. Retrieved October 10, 2016 from

Strain, J. (7 November, 2015). Player Types in Gamified Education. Guidance Through Mathematics. Retrieved October 13, 2016 from:

Yee, N. The Daedalus Project.


4 thoughts on “The Implication of Player Types in Gamification

  1. Hi Heather. After reading your article I am curious to know if you buy into this gamer type or if you feel that any midstyle approach might work the same? It has been the main thing that I have been trying to wrap my brain around after reading the whole classes posts. It has lead me two main ideas which are: is this just a different classification of the different mindstyles we have been dealing with for years under the guise of gaming, and should I spend some time figuring out if my group for presenting tech in a couple of weeks is a good mix of gamer types or is it going to be lopsided? Will this have an effect on the quality of our presentation? That is my weekly reflection in a nutshell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the though provoking reply. I DO buy into the gamer types, I wonder how/if it relates to learning style and personality. (There’s a research topic for someone!) Are all Socializers extroverts, for example? I think, just like with a regular lesson plan, you can only plan and prepare to a point. I’m wondering about how to address the students who don’t get caught up by the games–but I need to try it out and find those students first.


  2. Your tips of how to accommodate for the different player types will be helpful when creating a gamified classroom. It would be helpful at the beginning of the course to get the students to take a quiz on what type of gamer they are. To start that off I would maybe find one simple game that all of the students can play in class for about 30-45 minutes. This will help students think about how they like playing games. Maybe you can even have them play their favorite game app on their phone or computer game (as long as school appropriate) and tell them before they begin to think about why the enjoy the game so much and how they might identify themselves before they begin.


  3. Hi Heather,

    I think that looking at motivation, behavior and preferences in some detail could help us set up our gaming environment better than it would otherwise be. As I think about Dixon’s statement, my mind goes toward using these three categories with a list of examples under each, then using these as a type of check list for students to think about as they consider what motivates them to play, etc.

    Exploring side quests sounds like fun to me. I’m sure there are many who would either join me in exploring, or leave me behind to socialize, conquer or achieve.


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