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Bartle Player Types

''Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.'' Albert Einstein

We’re all different, we think differently, we act differently, we play differently, and whilst we must be careful in the forming of stereotypes, if we understand the motivations that result from those differences, then we can be more empathetic to the needs of the individual.

In 1996 Richard Bartle described a taxonomy of video game player types in his paper “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs” (Bartle, 1996)

We’ll cover this in more detail later in the course, but in essence, these ideas were based upon the work of psychologist David Keirsey (Keirsey & Bates, 1984) who identified four general patterns from the sixteen types of the Myers-Briggs personality model, namely; Artisan, Guardian, Rational and Idealist.

When Bartle appropriated these roles to gamers he changed the names to ones more relatable to gaming; Socialisers (Hearts), Killers (Clubs), Explorers (Spades), and Achievers (Diamonds)

In later research we see the taxonomy developed further in order to relate more to serious games (Radoff, 2011) but for now we’ll focus on Bartle’s snappier definition, and which type of player you are.

Note: Please take the results with a large pinch of salt. We are to degrees, depending upon the environment, conditions and experience, all of these things. In addition, we minimalised the test so that you could complete it quickly and easily. A longer and more accurate version of the test will be used within the module.

You Are a Socialiser

As a Socialiser, you just want to make a connection and all other aspects of gameplay are lesser, especially if you are encouraged to connect within the game; face-to-face, through direct messages, or even through social network integration. Socialisers tend to make up the vast majority of games in the online casual gaming realm, but many popular table-top games fit the bill as well. You have a lot of empathy for other players and spend a lot of your in-game time chatting and engaging with your fellow players, and less time interacting with the game content itself.

As a socialiser, you derive your primary motivation from interacting with other players and enjoy collaborating to accomplish quests or build things that you couldn’t on your own. You’re not uncompetitive but you may lack the singular drive of the achievers. For you, it’s all about the greater good.

Your Move

Typical Video Game: Farmville

Board Game: Codenames, Mafia, Sushi Go, Ravine, Pictures (personal favourite)

Keirsey: Idealist (Diplomatic)

Motivation: Identity

Genre/Mechanic: Chatting, roleplaying, storytelling, cooperation, social events

Problem Solving: Persuasion

Overall Goal: Become


Bartle, R. (1996). Hearts, Clubs , Diamonds and Spades: Players who suit MUDs. Journal of MUD Research, (1), 19.

Keirsey, D., & Bates, M. (1984). Please Understand Me.

Radoff, J. (2011). Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Games.

Go to the Serious Games Main Page