The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology is a series of questions and an accompanying scoring formula that classifies players of multiplayer online games (including MUDs and MMORPGs) into categories based on their gaming preferences. The test is based on the research of
Richard Bartleand was organized into its first electronic form by Erwin Andreasen. [MMO RPGDOT, "Random Dialog: You Shuffle, I'll Deal," http://www.mmorpgdot.com/index.php?hsaction=10053&ID=951] [Richard Bartle (1996), "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs," http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm] [Richard Bartle (2003), Designing Virtual Worlds, ISBN 0131018167] Although the test has met with some criticism [Nick Yee, Gamasutra (Sept. 21, 2004), "Unmasking the Avatar: The Demographics of MMO Player Motivations, In-Game Preferences, and Attrition"] for the dichotomous nature of its question-asking methodology, the test has been taken by a large number of computer game players. As of September 2008, the test had been taken by over 500,000 game players. [ [http://www.gamerdna.com/bartle.php Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology] , GamerDNA, Retrieved 7-19-2008]
The result of the Bartle Test is the "Bartle Quotient," which is calculated based on the answers to a series of 30 random questions in the test, and totals 200% across all categories, with no single category exceeding 100%. [Mulligan & Patrovsky (2003), Developing Online Games: An Insider's Guide, "Appendix C: The Bartle Quotient Survey Questions and Some Results," ISBN 1-5927-3000-0] For example, a person may score "100% Killer, 50% Socializer, 50% Achiever, 0% Explorer," which indicates a player who prefers fighting other players relative to any other area of interest. Scores are typically abbreviated by the first letter of each category, in order of the quotient. In the previous example, this result would be described as a "KSAE" result.
=The Four Categories of Players=
Also known as "Diamonds," these are players who prefer to gain "points," levels, equipment and other concrete measurements of succeeding in a game. They will go at great lengths to achieve rewards that confer them little or no gameplay benefit simply for the prestige of having it.
ingle-player Game Appeal to the Achiever
Every game that can be "beaten" in some way, shape or form caters to the Achiever play style by giving them something to accomplish. Games that offer special movies, extra endings, or other bonuses for beating it with a 100% completion rating are music to their ears.
Massively Multi-player Appeal to the Achiever
The best thing about online games to the Achiever is that he or she finally has people to show off their mighty progress or elite status. They value (or despise) the competition from other Achievers, and look to the Socializers to give them praise. As they achieve more and more and are no longer easy targets of the Killers, they smile at their new position on the food chain. These gamers also like seeing their user names at the top of scoreboards and ladder systems. The online game
World of Warcraftcaters to these players by offering special titles and a special, exclusive mount to those that place in the top 0.5% of the competitive Arena ladder. Microsoft's Xbox Liveutilizes the Gamerscoreto reward Achievers, who can get points by completing difficult "Achievements" in the various games they purchase. They can, in turn, compare themselves to other gamers from around the world.
Explorers, dubbed "Spades" for their tendency to dig around, are players who prefer discovering areas, creating maps and learning about hidden places. They often feel restricted when a game expects them to move on within a certain time, as that does not allow them to look around at their own pace. They get great joy in discovering an unknown
glitchor a hidden easter egg.
ingle-player Game Appeal to the Explorer
Combat and gaining levels or points is secondary to the Explorer, so they traditionally flock to games such as
Mystand its four sequels. In these games, you find yourself in a strange place, and the objective is to find your way out by paying close attention to detail and solving puzzles. The Explorer will often enrich themselves in any back story or lore they can find about the people and places in-game. Whereas an Achiever may forget about previous games as soon as they've conquered them, the Explorer will retain rich memories about what they experienced about their adventures.
Massively Multi-player Appeal to the Explorer
The Explorer benefits much the same way as the Achiever does in the massively multi-player environment, as they are surrounded by people who will benefit from their wisdom. They often meet other Explorers and can swap experiences, and most often, Socializers do not mind listening either. Interaction with Killers is usually (though not always) negative, as hostile Killers would interfere with exploration. Most mainstream
MMORPGsoffer Explorers plenty of lore and rich characters to delve into.
There are a multitude of gamers who choose to play games for the social aspect, rather than the actual game itself. These players are known as Socializers or "Hearts." They gain the most enjoyment from a game by interacting with other players, and on some occasions, computer-controlled characters with personality. The game is merely a tool they use to meet others in-game or outside of it.
ingle-player Game Appeal to the Socializer
Since their objective is not so much to win or explore as it is to be social, there are few games that the Socializer enjoy based on their merits. Instead, they play some of the more popular games so that they can use their experience to socialize with others who have played them, or use the multi-player features. However, there are some games designed with their play style in mind.
Massively Multi-player Appeal to the Socializer
The online environment is very appealing to the Socializer, as it provides near limitless potential for new relationships. Socializers start filling up their friend lists as soon as they start meeting people, and get to know them better through private messages and sometimes even voice chat. They take full advantage of the ability to join
guildsor kinshipsin many online games, and form fast friendships and try to help other people out. They are compatible with just about everyone, save maybe the ever-unfriendly Killers. Eventually, they will most likely be a well-known name on their particular server, either for the services they provide, or for the drama they are involved in.
"Clubs" are a very accurate moniker for what the Killer likes to do. They thrive on competition with other players, and prefer fighting them to scripted computer-controlled opponents.
ingle-player Game Appeal to the Killer
These gamers love to sow destruction, so games that are high in carnage, action, and destructible environments are definitely a plus. These gamers also enjoy the opportunity to depart from the norm of being "the good guy" who comes to save the day. Instead, they will play on the side of evil or conquest.
Massively Multi-player Appeal to the Killer
Causing mayhem among computer-controlled people and things may be fun to the Killer, but nothing amounts to the joy of pitting one's skills against an actual player-controlled opponent. For most, the joy of being a Killer results from a friendly competitive spirit. They're in it for the sport, trying to read their opponent's moves and generally acting with honor.
For others, it's more about power and the ability to hurt others. One such example is "
ganking," a process where the Killer takes their strong character to a place where inexperienced or weaker characters reside, and proceeds to kill them repeatedly. Stronger enemy players arrive to help, and the Killer either waits patiently or stealthily sneaks somewhere else to repeat the process. A Killer loves to have the notoriety of being someone that should be watched out for, or even better, someone to be "Killed on Sight."
In addition to helping players define their game-playing preferences, the Bartle Test has also been used by game designers to help define the requirements of games that are intended to appeal to a particular audience. [Dave Rickey (2003), "Let the Gears Begin," Engines of Creation #1, http://www.skotos.net/articles/engines01.shtml]
In 2006, after running for ten years on a web server maintained by Erwin Andreasen, the database met with intractable scalability problems. After several months, the test was rewritten and moved to
GamerDNAservers, preserving all the original test data.
* [http://www.gamerdna.com/bartle.php Bartle Test of gamer personality]
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