Gamification Player Types

Player Types

For a gamified system we need to tailor our design to the types of players that will be participating. Each of us as individuals have a certain way of looking at the world – we are subjective in our view. For this reason we need to consider what will appeal to our target audience and the sort of motivators that will work best.

As there are as many distinct personalities as there are people, we cannot possibly take into account every factor so we need to somehow generalise and group our players. We do this by defining ‘Player Types’, each of which has their own core motivators and views the world in their own way. There are many player classification systems and perhaps the best known one was designed by Richard Bartle.

Bartle’s Player Types consisted of Killers, Achievers, Socializers and Explorers and described how each type preferred to interact with a video game. He later expanded these player types, splitting each category into two to give eight player types in total.

The Bartle Player Types have proven to be effective for video game design but do not always apply well to gamification, where the systems being designed contains elements of video game design rather than being a video game.

I believe that, for the purposes of gamification, player type design is best when linked to the motivators (Extrinsic and Intrinsic). But each Player has its ‘dark side’ or Shadow who may affect the system in a negative manner. For example, someone motivated by Mastery might want to gain the highest levels achievable within the system or even improve it but their Shadow may see destroying or breaking the system as the ultimate expression of their Mastery over it.

Extrinsically Motivated Players

There are four types of extrinsic motivation as defined by Deci and Ryan. These are the ‘carrot and stick’ motivations.

Externally regulated behaviour

This is where the drive comes from an external demand or expected reward. For example working because you’re paid to do so. There is no autonomy (Autonomy = independence or self-determination) for the person and if they are not paid, they will not work unless some other reward or punishment motivates them.

Player Types:

Wage Slave

Wage Slave – They are driven by Externally Regulated Behaviour. Reward or Punishment will motivate a Wage Slave but without them they will immediately stop interacting and become a Striker

Introjected regulation of behaviour

Here, we’re avoiding feelings of guilt or recrimination. For example “I need to work to support my family”. Although the behaviour is being driven internally by the individual’s need to move away from an undesired state, the cause is very much external and the subject has little autonomy in the situation.

Player Types:

Guilt Tripper


Guilt Tripper – Motivated by Introjected Regulation of Behaviour. They are avoiding feelings of guilt or recrimination however, this needs to constantly apply to their situation. Should the situation they are trying to move away from actually occur at any point, they may no longer be able to function, give up and become Depressed.


Regulation through identification

This form of motivation is driven by a desire to express something that is felt to be ‘important’ to the individual. There is an element of autonomy involved and self-identified ‘values’ such as “I work because I want to do it”.

Player Types:



Believer – Motivated by Regulation Through Identification they are driven by a desire to express something they deem important or fits their self-defined values. However, if they lose or downgrade the importance of these beliefs and values they can easily become Agnostic.

Integrated Regulation

Now we are approaching Intrinsic motivation: Integrated Regulation occurs when a set of rules, beliefs or regulations are fully assimilated into the individual’s identity. It is very similar to Intrinsic motivation but the beliefs and models involved have come from strictly external conditioning rather than in inherent joy or inspiration.

Player Types:



Evangelist – Integrated Regulation drives this user and their inner self is the Evangelist, happily carrying out ‘the good work’ in an almost Intrinsic manner. However, if those external rules or beliefs are shown to be false or doubtful then the player could become a Heretic, now opposed to those beliefs and motivated by a different set of beliefs.

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