Bartle taxonomy of player types is a theory that every developer should know


Bartle taxonomy of player types gives a perfect understanding of the current situation in the world of video games. According to Richard Bartle, there are four main types of video gamers: Achievers, Killers, Socializers and Explorers. This division is not universal, however it represents the current state of affairs very well.

All types of video gamers have their needs and expectations of a product: what they desire to see in a video game, how they want to interact with the world, do they expect to see other players there or not and what is the most important feature for them there. Richard Bartle used two scales to describe player’s experience: interaction with other players vs. interaction with the world and actions with other players vs. actions in the world. In other words, while some players want just to discover the world to see its boundaries, others may want to socialize, doing communal activities or compete with other players.

This system may be incomplete but in my opinion its perfectly describes the gradation of players and gives you an overview of tastes, preferences and values of gamers.

Explorers want to discover a world in full; they play video games in search of something new to satisfy their thirst for novelty. They look for video games with some innovative gameplay or vast worlds, which you want to explore. They love interaction with in-game objects; they don’t want to engage into activities with other players. Gamers of this type value feeling of immersion and opportunity to look behind every corner and search for treasure in every house and on every floor. Products of their preference include Outer Worlds, Borderlands 3, Call of the Sea, Fallout 4, Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Story of Edith Finch and many different other games of this kind – with interaction with objects, huge and massive worlds, incredible landscapes, beautiful surrounding, interesting gameplay and good music. They value level design and plot more than other players do, they can wander meaninglessly in artificially created cities just to be able to find something new. While this is true they may do it in order to unlock some achievement (then they belong to the second type – Achievers), it’s also true that they look for something that they have not seen before. In short, these players love new experience coming from exploration of new worlds, they don’t want to compete with other players or engage into mutual activities, they prefer singleplayer games with strong storyline and beautiful visuals and they don’t intend to earn in-game trophies or rewards. If they do, they probably belong to the second type – Achievers.

Achievers want to be the best in the game by unlocking all kinds of rewards and achievements. While the gameplay is important for them, ability to unlock every chapter and every gear is more essential then just playing the game. They consider the game to be fully completed (beaten) only when they have all trophies and rewards of a gold or platinum level. For them interaction of this kind is an opportunity to improve their skill, prove themselves that they can conquer this height, ability to outperform the previous efforts and see how well they can pilot in this product.

Achievers are usually confused with grinders but the latter unlock rewards and earn trophies so as to be better than others or earn valuable items for further walkthrough of a game or to complete some quests in online activities. It’s commonly noted, that term “grinder” belongs to online world, while “achiever” is a word used to describe a type of player participating in offline activities mostly.

Almost every game that has achievements is suited for players of this type. While it’s true that some developers design trophies just for entertainment of players, it’s also true that some of them are dedicated specially for Achievers. You can see them very often – gather all evidences or clues, collect all cars, successfully perform 25 stunts – these are examples of these rewards. They are certainly needed for players. If you want to know why, you should read this article, which was previously posted on our site.

Another type of players is known as Socializers. They seek relationships within a game; they want to participate in online activities alongside other players. They play multiplayer games mostly or single player games with co-op. They love sharing and exchanging things, especially in-game items, they want to feel comfort of being in a good company. They love distribution of roles within a team and they want to experience roleplay elements and different interaction between gamers. In short, they love products, which allow them experiencing interaction with others and they want to do things together as a team rather than being alone. Games that cater to this sort of players include Sea of Thieves, World of Warcraft, GTFO, Deceit and many others, where interaction between players exceeds the competitive nature of a product.

The last type of gamers in this list is Killers. They want to dominate in a virtual world, taking advantage of other players and in-game situations, win matches, be competitive and superior to others. They play for fun, which comes from rivalry and opportunity to defeat opponents; they don’t mind social interaction for as long as it helps them to win. Games that are liked by them are Fortnite, Battlefield 1, Apex Legends and many others. This type of players prefers to play online with real people rather than games against artificial intelligence. They treat games as competition in opposite to Explorers, who regard them as a world to explore.

If you know how to use Bartle taxonomy of player types correctly, you can reach your goals during the development and make your products incredibly attractive for others. Just remember, that it’s impossible to cater to all players at once, because their interests don’t correspond to each other: these who love to explore worlds alone will never play cooperative games. These who love social interaction are less likely to play brutal FPS shooters of battle royale genre. These who like to unlock achievements take no fancy in fast-paced multiplayer shooters. The same is true for other genres and other types of players. Each of them plays only products of certain types. By defining key needs of your target playerbase in accordance with Bartle system of classification of players, you may deliver the best experience to them.