If you donít know what the Bartle Test is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test

So, I didnít really like the Bartle Test when I first took it. I thought the questions were pretty terrible and obvious if you wanted to end up in one category or another, not to mention far too mutually exclusive. I especially the names and the descriptions. For example, I think Killer is a terrible name and I donít think Socializers need to choose between the game and socializing, as if they couldnít do both. I mean, the way it is set up, only Achievers play the so-called game, while Socializers try to talk to them, Killers try to kill them, and Explorers are off navel-texture-gazing. On the other hand, I think it was good for raising awareness of different gamer ďprofilesĒ, no matter how extreme, and developers are trying to design game activities which appeal simultaneously to multiple types of gamers.

One thing I thought might be interesting is to revise the categories of game appeal and, instead of putting ourselves in the categories, applying the categories to game activities. Hereís what I came up with:


Progress. Having your past decisions and accomplishments contribute meaningfully (statistically) to your present tasks.

Accomplishment. Completing challenges requiring a certain amount of time and energy.

Exploration. Experiencing something for the first time. Finding something you didnít know about before.

Contribution. Participating in something greater than yourself. Accomplishing something you couldnít do by yourself. Being recognized and accepted.

Distinction. Distinguishing yourself from other players. Being the best at something. Having a unique reputation. Having unique or rare items.


Itís useful to look at where these overlap. Particularly, none of them are mutually exclusive. For example, the first time a guild downs a major raid boss, theyíve experienced all these things. With repeat visits they taper off, Exploration and Distinction first, then Accomplishment and Progress, and finally Contribution. Which is fairly accurate, I think.

I also like how the social categories, Contribution and Distinction, do not require you to ďopt-outĒ of the game. You could contribute to a late game warfront comeback or contribute to pillow fights in your skivvies. You could distinguish yourself as the first character to hit the plat cap or the only level 10 with 100 days /played. Or even simply as a rare friendly and helpful person on zone chat.

On the other hand, there are meaningful differences. Contribution and Distinction are very different social motivations and some activities donít facilitate both easily. Itís difficult in a dungeon group or a raid to say who is helping the most (not for lack of people trying to), because everyone has their own role. Similarly, in a warfront, even if there is a scoreboard, there are many things which are helpful and important that donít always get scored fairly.

Between Progress and Accomplishment, there is a clear difference between present focus and past focus. What you have done versus how strong you are now. There is a relationship in most games but there is a different appeal. Exploration is also tied in, because to experience all content you have to Progress to be strong enough, and to Progress you need a variety of Accomplishments. However, it could be its own activity too, such as Exploring various dialogue chains and responses with NPCs looking for funny quotes or interesting lore.


Back to the goal, I think MMORPG features are designed to incorporate most if not all of these appeal points. For example, grinding mobs is about Progress, but make it so you can view other peopleís level and gear and suddenly itís about Distinction too. Make mobs or dungeons that only groups can take down with reward enough to motivate them and then there is Contribution as well. Having a variety of mob types, dungeon designs, back stories and then Exploration is all over it. Section them off into levels, or quest timelines, or level-range zones, or start-to-finish dungeons, and there is a sense of Accomplishment in finishing them.

I think when developers look at an area of MMORPGs (solo play, group play, raiding, PvP, social/vanity items) they probably try to look at ways to incorporate each of these things. You might say how can you work Contribution into solo play, but things like guild quests or crafting allow solo players to spend their time when they want, how they want, but still increase the strength of their guilds or friends.

I think the Bartle Test either created or propitiated a way of thinking that you wonít like a certain game activity because of your personality or player type. While this may be true, I donít think people should write off activities because they arenít obviously about Killing and only Killing or Socializing and only Socializing. Fundamentally people are looking for the above five aspects and most game activities incorporate most or all of them.

The things we donít like in games are related to negative elements present, rather than the absence of the positive ones we seek. Things like elitism, exclusivity, entitlement, selfishness, and playersí inequality of real life obligations are what make game activities inaccessible or unfun, more so than being targeted at the wrong personality stereotype.

Sorry for the essay.
tl;dr Five game objectives Progress, Accomplishment, Exploration, Contribution, Distinction better than the Bartle personality types Achiever, Killer, Socializer, Explorer? Worse? Who cares?