There are definitely different types of people in the world. And like people, there are different types of gamers. This post will explore the characteristics of those players and how games cater to and challenge these players. Student affairs professionals will be able to connect this to their work by understanding how player motivation can help motivate them through the gamification of learning.
What are Player Types?
Richard Bartle (1996) defined four major types of players: Socializers, Achievers, Explorers, and Killers. These four players (like people) are the ones who will interact with your game world and with each other. This specifically relates student affairs professionals in how students use, interact, and take advantage of programs and services provided by your college:
Socializers are students or gamers who choose to play and interact with your game for the social aspect, rather than the game itself. Student affairs professionals should think about students that go to home basketball games or coffeehouses just to see other people there. They want to meet and interact. They are not necessarily there for the music or the competition.
Achievers are the types of players who want to get out there and score some points, gain some levels, and snag some loot. These also tend to be the students who want to do everything, see everything, and become involved with everything.
Achievers seem to be the bread and butter of student affairs work. This means that these students need to be carefully cultivated and inspired to do their best during their college career. You can help achievers by giving them concrete measurements on their play, like how many trips they’ve been on and events attended.
Explorers are the types of players who really enjoy open worlds and experiences. The success of Minecraft really emphasized this player type as the kind of person who wants to discover as much about the game as possible and the world around it.
Student affairs professionals will see explorers as the kinds of students who want to get much out of their college experience by seeking as many opportunities as possible. While they may not always deeply explore a few organizations, they will definitely sample as much as possible.
Killers. Well, their name alone doesn’t really inspire faith in gamers. But, killers are one of the most active types of players around. However, they don’t always want to be the productive kinds of players and instead choose to destroy game environments and relationships at their will. Really, killers are the most competitive group of gamers who derive pleasure from competing with one another.
Student affairs professionals will see killers as those students who are actively competing against other students. In some cases this could be a bad thing: like trying to undermine a competitor in a student government election.
In another situation this player can be useful. For instance: setting a high bar for excellence on an orientation team is beneficial for student affairs professionals. The encouragement of staff members to hold each other accountable while also setting high expectations themselves fuels their killer personas.
These player types are a good starting point for understanding personal motivations. But they aren’t everything. Gamified learning is part of a larger application of games for good, games for change, and games that can help us reach the next level by challenging us to become better professionals.
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