Gamification Blog

Blog about gamification and how game design can transform business, advertising, and marketing practices.

Gamification for all: what kind of gamer are you?

Humans are playful creatures. Granted, we do not hunt the same pleasures, nor do we extract the same joys from play. But as curious researchers, we've tried to decipher the delicate recipe behind players' motivations. Why do we play? How do we play? The cynical marketers in us are eager to craft an accurate taxonomy of players.

The Bartle Test: 4 archetypes of gamers.

One of the first models to emerge back in 1996 was the Bartle Test, a character theory that delineated 4 primary groups of motivations and characters. Every player drifts between all four areas, but Richard Bartle observed that most players do have a "primary" style. All other styles are "secondary" are subservient to the main interest. For instance, Achievers will definitely explore the game, but only to find new sources of treasures. They will socialize, but as a way to compare digital egos and trophy collections.


Fun comes from the treasure hunt.

Driven by concrete measurements of success within the game context (points, levels, rewards, possessions, prestige, skills).

Looking for
actions to do in the game.


Fun comes from discovery and information seeking.

Prone to experiment with the laws of the game: topology, physics, rules, depth, etc.

Looking for
interactions with the game.


Fun comes from people and what they have to say.

Importance of interpersonal relationships: empathy, sympathy, joking, entertainment, listening, conversation-enabling.

Looking for
nteractions with other players in the game.


Fun comes from the competitive game of dominance and win/loss situations.

Cause distress to other players, wreak havoc: taunts, adrenalin-driven killing sprees.

Looking for

actions on other players in the game.

You can take your own Bartle Test quiz here. Let us know in which category you land!

The challenge: what kind of gamers are you marketing to?

One of the key learnings from the segmentation above is that gamification is not just about Achievers. Points, levels, badges and rewards may not captivate much of your audience if it happens to look for an adventurous escape. 

Think of yourself as a game designer.

And portray your project (marketing campaign, social-enabled technology, employee motivation system, etc.) as a game. What kind of player are you trying to reach? And how does this impact the kind of game you need to create? Will you craft a competitive land of warfare and testosterone to entertain young adults in need of a joy kick, or will you paint serene experiences to capture etherial brains in need of digital relief? 

The brilliance behind real-life gamified applications and devices such as Nike Fuelband, airline rewards systems, Foursquare; is the magnetic blend that goes beyond concrete measures of success. Foursquare is about badges and material rewards as much as it is about discovering new places, encountering like-minded users, competitive yet friendly show-off with your clique. 

The Golden Rule of Gamification: intrinsic joys prevail.

Golden rule of gamification is to work in reverse from the natural instinct: extrinsic rewards only have value if the intrinsic joys that users get carry them long enough to care about badges, points, experiences, etc.

Source: Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spads: Players Who Suit MUDS, Richard Bartle (1999)
Banner image: Diesel advertising campaign.