Richard Bartle player types taxonomy.

Video games and the universal web have evolved on parallel planes. Laypeople do not believe they have much in common. One is adolescent addictive fun, and the other builds intellect and business. The fact is that they share their origins, and their futures remain codependent. Just consider the commonalities in the gamification user types defined by designers, futurists, and psychologists.

Game theory dates to the 1930s, but it grew deep and broad in the 1950s into the 1970s. It is more than coincidental that this paralleled the development of the personal computer. Both depended on logic-ruled behavioral relationships. The decades also saw the development of extensive work in the mathematics and psychology of social dynamics.

Richard Bartle player types

In 2003, Richard Bartle published Designing Virtual Worlds in which the differentiated four game users (better known as Richard Bartle player types) who are only tangentially related to the avatars they may choose in playing video games. He drew his classifications from scrupulous observations of the social interactions among players in multi-user virtual dungeons. The interactions were measurable and chartable, logical and mathematical in practice. It allowed him the distance and objectivity to describe motivation and fun.

richard bartle player types

Richard Bartle Player Types. Courtesy of Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger. Copyright: CC-Att-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported).

According Raph Koster’s reading of Richard Bartle player types
, the originator of game participant psychology:

  • if “virtual worlds are about a player’s exploration of self, then we ought to be finding ways to aid in that design goal.”
  • “multiple narratives of self is something that players deeply value (hardly surprising, it’s something that people tend to crave in the real world as well).”

Richard Bartle player types gamification taxonomy:

  • Killers: Players driven by their passion for competition want to beat other players. They expect to take it to the competition with a big stick. They enjoy winning in peer-to-peer competition. They like ranking, recognition, and well published leaderboards.
  • Achievers: These players like proofs of success: points, possessions, or prizes. They want rewards and prestige with or without advancement in gameplay.
  • Explorers: Some players just like the thrill of discovery. They like to dig down and find something new or unknown. Secret pathways and rare finds excite them.
  • Socializers: For others, the social interaction counts more than the game strategy. Relationships are their reward.


Andrzej Marczewski’s user types 2.0 – The Hexad 

Andrzej Marczewski belongs to the gaming generation. Brilliant and articulate, he is quick to push back with theories that apply gaming theory to worlds outside of dungeons. He points out that, in hard world situations like business, players do not always enjoy the chance to play and explore as they do in virtual worlds.Marczewski gamification player types

Marczewski took Richard Bartle’s player types taxonomy, modified names, and added another two gamification user types:

  • Players: Like Bartle’s Killers, theylike to win and have their names on the leaderboards. They simply like the “game” of it. They come to play and are likely to take advantage of the system and take advantage of loopholes to collect rewards.
  • Disruptors are motivated by Change. In general they want to disrupt your system, either directly or through other users to force positive or negative change
  • Socializers: Like Bartle’s Socializers, these users want to interact with others. They value the parts of the system that enable them to accomplish this. Socializers take to social networks to build and share interest in the as aspects of relatedness found in the game.
  • Free Spirits: These users prefer a personal journey and resist restrictions. They pursue ownership and find creative ways to find the system’s defects. Self-expression is the preferred path, and autonomy is their game.
  • Achievers: Like Bartle’s Achievers, these want to play well. They take the most satisfaction from playing better and showing off to others. Achievers want status among their peers and recognition for their mastery of the system.
  • Philanthropists: Some players want to give back to others because they feel they are part of something larger. They enjoy helping, sharing, and mentoring. Their fun comes from helping others motivated by some sense of higher purpose.

What Bartle and Marczewski have done is to open a conversation. They have incidentally provided us with a game worth pursuing towards a better understanding of gamification user types. As we pursue the understanding, we find paths to follow in developing engagement among people in organizational structures like sales. In subsequent blogs, we hope to pursue hybrid and new models to help game managers and players work the system effectively and productively.



Killers, Achievers, Explorers, Socializers. Have U Ever heard about Richard Bartle player types taxonomy? Compare Marczewski’s User Types Hexad in next repIGNITE article about gamification player types.