I was recently pointed in the direction of an blog article from Andrzej Marczewski, ‘Different Types of Users in Gamification’. Andrzej built on Richard Bartle’s player type theory. Bartle’s theorised that you could categorise MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game players in one of four ways: killer, achiever, socialiser and explorer. To read Bartle’s full theory, click here. Andrzej took these ideas and related them to gamification.
Andrzej notes that the important distinction between game players and users of gamified content is that they may not wish to ‘play’. Andrzej categorises users as: Players, Socialisers, Free Spirits, Achievers and Philanthropists. Below is his explanation of each:
- Players are the ones who like to get the achievements in your system; they like to see their names on the leaderboards. They like the “game” of it all. They are also the most likely to make use of “loop holes” to gain an advantage. There to play the game and are happy with the extrinsic rewards.
- Socialisers (as in the original Player Type) are the ones who want to interact with others. They like to be connected to others. They are interested in parts of the system that help them do this. These are the ones will evangelise your internal social networks. Most motivated by the social connectiosn aspects of relatedness.
- Free Spirits like to have agency. They don’t want to be restricted in how they go through their personal journey. They will be the most creative, have the fanciest avatars, create the most personal content, but also find the most holes in a system. They seek self expression and autonomy.
- Achievers are the ones who want to be the best at things, or at least be achieving things within the system. They want to get 100% on the internal learning system. They do this for themselves and are probably not that bothered with then showing off to others about it. (This differs from the original definition, but I could not think of a better word!!). They need a system that will enrich them and lead them towards mastery.
- Philanthropists want to feel that they are of something bigger. They want to give back to others. These are the ones who will answer endless questions on forums, just because they like to feel they are helping. They want a system that allows them to enrich others and feel a sense of purpose.
So why is this useful? Andrzej goes on to explain that each of these types prefer to operate in either structured or unstructured ways and for material and non-material gains. The second part of his blog article extends this idea further explaining how users see rewards, whether they act within the system or not and how they interact with other users. While the second part of his article gets a little complicated, it is a great tool for anyone thinking of utilising gamification. Andrzej argues that you must create a balanced system for all users for gamification to be worthwhile and fully useful and he does a lot of the work for you in terms of working out how to do this.
For the first part of the series, visit: http://marczewski.me.uk/2013/01/30/different-types-of-users-in-gamification/
For part two: http://marczewski.me.uk/2013/02/04/user-types-in-gamification-part-2-players/
pixelfountain and its brand, games-ED, who bring this blog to you, develop learning simulations (serious games) to be used in training workshops and in the classroom. These games are used in training so delegates are not classic game players or have not come to play. So does Andrzej’s classification hold water in our experience? We would say that we have certainly come across these different types of players in our workshops.
We have come across a significant minority of players, who report that they enjoyed getting the high score or beating the other team – we have on occasion played more than one simulation in an event. These are Player types. But the most common type, bearing in mind that the games are used in training workshops, could be thought of as modified Achievers. Note: Andrzej suggests that people may be a combination of ‘types of user’, but they usually have one main motivator.
The following quotes are just a sample of the feedback we have gained from our latest product, sim-uni (a learning simulation that models a University to train Higher Education employees).
“I think the event/the simulation provided a fun way to learn about the different elements that impact on the running of the University (particularly in raising awareness of areas not directly related to those you may have worked in), and could also be used as a team building event (irrespective of the actual content of the simulation). It really got you thinking and talking about the issues, and also about the importance of communication (networking and negotiation).”
- E-Learning Manager
This player comes over as being primarily an Achiever. They enjoyed playing the simulation as it provided a fun way of learning and raising awareness. I think that secondary to this, they are a Socialiser. They note that the simulation would be well suited to a team building event, appreciated that sim-uni got them ‘talking about the issues’ and that it highlighted the importance of communication.
“Taking part in the sim-uni event gave me an interesting insight into the way different decisions about admissions policy, budgeting, staffing, research, resources etc are linked and have an effect on a university’s reputation as well as its ability to do its job. The sim could provide value to the whole range of university personnel, to show how they fit in to the big picture, and how the big picture depends on the smaller details.”
- Divisional Manager
This delegate / player is primarily an Achiever. They appreciate the game as it helped them increase their understanding of various issues. They also have a hint of Philanthropy about them. They appreciate the wider goals and the greater purpose and suggest how it could be useful to ‘the whole range of university personnel’.
“The day was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with a range of colleagues from across the University (some of whom I had never met before) and once we got a handle on what we were doing, we were able to bring some creativity and ingenuity to the exercise! The facilitator was engaging and knowledgeable and the whole event definitely got me thinking about how Universities work.
I would definitely recommend the exercise to anyone who is interested in taking part.”
- Head of School Administration
This delegate is a Socialiser and a Free Spirit. They ‘enjoyed working with a range of colleagues from across the University’ and they ‘were able to bring some creativity and ingenuity to the exercise’. Their primary motivations seem to be the social aspect of the workshop and they obviously enjoyed how flexible the workshop and simulation were as it allowed them to be creative and autonomous.
“We stepped out of our silos. It was a great opportunity to view the University operation from a different perspective and to appreciate the value of collaborative working across the organisation.”
- Head of Student Operations
This delegate is an Achiever / Socialiser. They enjoyed the opportunity to learn, however they also enjoyed socialising and working beyond their silos.
“The ‘Sim-Uni’ event was very engaging and an excellent way for managers (new and established) to learn more about managing and being responsible for budgets. Through the use of simulated ‘Report Screens’ you could see the impact of your budgetary decisions made year on year, that as a manager can be an invaluable tool helping you to steer the direction of your purchasing decisions and areas of work that impacts on and feeds into the overall achievement of the University’s strategic goals”
- HR Manager
While this delegate could be seen as a player (due to liking report screens as a guage of progress and achievements); it is more likely they are beind descriptive for the benefit of others. So, I would argue they are an Achiever / Philanthropist as this delegate appreciates the learning outcomes of the learning simulation and workshop above all else.
Andrzej has so far named four user types that are intrinsically motivated in certain ways: Socialiser, Free Spirit, Achiever and Philanthropist. In his second blog post he discusses how there are four types of extrinsically motivated users of gamified content too: Networker, Exploiter, Consumer and Self-Seeker.
- Self Seekers Act on Users for Extrinsic Reward- They will answer questions and help others, but purely to get rewards from the system. Quantity over quality – unless quality gets them more rewards. They are uninterested in the social aspect of users
- Consumers Act on the System for Extrinsic Reward - A consumer wants to use a system that can give them something. An example would be people who use one particular airway because of the loyalty scheme.
- Networkers Interact with Users for Extrinsic Reward - They want social connections, but to give them some form of status or reward. An example of this are people who network and tweet etc. just to get higher Klout scores
- Exploiters Interact with the System for Extrinsic Reward - Similar in nature to Self Seekers, they are the people who will like or upvote or retweet something multiple times to gain reward. Unlike Free Spirits, who will seek the boundaries of a systems capabilities for fun, they are very likely to find the loopholes in your rules and exploit them
It seems to me that these 8 types of users of gamified content can also be used to describe most of the people we come across in our organisations, if not our lives at large. And what also seems likely is that people will fit into different categories in different situations. For example, you might be a Socialiser and Achiever at home, but be a Networker and Consumer at work. So while these types are important when designing gamified content, they could also be very useful when designing other interventions: training, rewards structures, communications and so on.
For more information about sim-uni, visit: www.sim-uni.co.uk and feel free to let me know your views and experiences in the comments section below.