Any game is, first of all, an intense emotional experience and only then thoughts and reasoning. That is why video game authors are interested in the question: what elements of the psyche do they work with?

The analysis of mechanics and genres should be supplemented by something like a typology of gamers. Game creators are interested in understanding what bundles of interests and values their story or gameplay solution engages. After all, the popularity of a video game cannot be explained by the game’s actions or images alone. You also need internal reasons: I go back to a game again and again because I want it (if it’s not work or cyber sports), but why do I want it? What pleasure or even need is behind this “want”? In this article, you will find out your type of player and which games suit your type: best medieval games pc or indie games.

Three basic models

The first model is simplification. For such a player, opportunities are valuable only insofar as they lead to victory. As a result, one or two factors are chosen, and the rest are discarded. The main reference point is the effectiveness (sometimes ease) of the game. In character development such a gamer pumps the “most important” characteristic (for example, creates a “tank”) or reacts to obvious problems (for example, often killed – it is necessary to increase the defense or HP).

Also in battle you can focus on one or two parameters and repeat successful tactics. Often these players do not go into complex dialogues and plot twists, and at choice points decide what is more profitable for further passing. This model is obvious, because all games have restrictions (win-lose condition), though it is not flexible, sometimes frankly monotonous.

The second model – balance. The main reference point – the exact calculation and knowledge of the possibilities. Gamers with this approach are very fond of studying the nuances of classes, factions, unusual lines of character development and plot. Here they prefer not pure, but related classes, in which you have to harmonize different aspects: paladin / templar (a combination of strength and magic), robber / tracker (dexterity and strength), combat mage or bard duellist.

Combat allows them to devise complex tactics using ambushes, traps, location features, and improvised items. Proponents of this model are usually interested in the story, although they may gravitate towards combat alone. Of particular importance is the lack of artificial restrictions on the exploration of the world, the development of skills, as well as many ways to complete quests. Going through the entire game with only stealth or hacking and diplomacy (like Shadowrun Returns) is something only a balance lover would be interested in.

This model is closely intertwined with our knowledge of the game’s hidden tricks, which the creator wanted to lead us to. Admittedly, there is a difficulty here: the flexibility of this approach is not immune to strategic mistakes, and to learn about the pitfalls, we need to try and make mistakes (or read about the game, which reduces the pleasure of our own discoveries).

The third model is expansion. If there are a lot of possibilities in the game, there are always those who want to see everything. The guideline here is to maximize the possibilities, to try not to miss anything. Often this is an attempt to create a universal character: in RPGs it is the odd warrior-warrior who is also a bit of a sorcerer. In combat tactics the same – the desire to try out combinations of skills, weapons and armor, chips and even bugs. Such players are less embarrassed by the use of cheats.

Dialogue and plot twists interest them in games where the consequences of election and/or reputation are tangible, because they can open or close opportunities (loss of a companion, an interesting side quest). These gamers’ curiosity leads them to replay situations to compare consequences. From the outside the style looks chaotic, and sometimes it prevents you from relaxing, but the pattern of passing the game “this way and that way” allows you to understand a lot about its content and meaning.

However, researchers immediately noticed that the limitation to narrative games almost left out an important motivation – communication and interaction with others. So a fourth type appeared in the typologies – Participant, or Socializer, which is most evident in multiplayer.

Four Temperaments

In 2006, typology was proposed by Linda Berens (Linda Berens). Her approach gave a simple list of temperaments with stable patterns of preferences and skills (which is exactly what is interesting to developers).

By combining cooperative or pragmatic tendencies with a focus (on people’s motives or on clear structures), she also obtained four temperaments that translate into gamer types. These are called the master (Artisan), the protector (Guardian), the thinker (Rational), and the idealist (Idealist).

  • Masters are gifted in tactics, they like unusual and new situations, confident in their ability to solve problems. Often spontaneous, expect adventure and strong incentives from games. Will not give up the pleasure to boast about the results or gain influence.
  • Defenders love the theme of duty and stability, sometimes have a great interest in tradition. They calmly perceive routine and create clear and clear procedures themselves. In games they are able to move systematically towards the goal, accumulating resources and information. While masters prefer freedom of action, for defenders membership in a group is very important.
  • Thinkers trust in logic and reason. Their main motivation is cognition, they like to be competent or just understand the structure of the world and things. This is relevant to both everyday life and games. Prone to theories, but can also be skeptical. Calm, not given to emotion, good at long-term strategic plans, often individualists. 
  • Idealists are also cognitive, but they are interested in meaning, not device. Benevolent, relationship-oriented, sometimes romantic or eager to make the world a better place. In games greatly appreciate the moral gameplay and ambiguity (the ability to interpret events and actions in different ways). Idealists are future-oriented, so focus on developing potential, learning, helping others. Not strong in tactics, but diplomatic.

A look at the game from the side of the temperaments can clarify why one audience prefers one genre over another (for example, thinkers gravitate to turn-based strategies, and advocates – to RTS). The point is that we process familiar stimuli automatically, while unaccustomed ones make us strain and make mistakes (or fear mistakes). Favorite games are usually located in the comfort zone.

This approach is even more relevant when trying to expand your audience. Betting on two types is considered a reasonable strategy, although steps toward the others are also possible. It is important to think about options and content, and sometimes even the rhythm and tempo of the game, so as not to spoil the impression of the main audience.

A good example is Baldur’s Gate and its successors like Dragon Age. Combat RPG with a complex plot and a team is best suited for idealists (the game is especially comfortable for them because of the tactical pause). However, different aspects of active combat, exploration of the world and “lore”, medieval setting and creating your own party can also interest a wizard, a thinker, and a defender.

In general, such theories give developers food for thought, and also allow them to look at their game from different angles. Answering the questions about what can interest gamers with this or that type, the creators not only bring the existing ideas to shine, but also dare to experiment with combining genres and mechanics. How good these findings are in the end – it is up to the players to judge.

However, the narrow scope of three or four types raises a legitimate question: did we manage to capture all the significant aspects of the problem? Or do we need details? We will talk about more complex and detailed typologies of players and their experiences next time.

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