Gamer in office

Agencies should know the 4 types of gamers

Government agencies looking to take advantage of the benefits of gamification will quickly find themselves in the same boat as any game developer. If the goal of the game is to attract and keep players, then it has to be interesting. The problem is that different people find different things interesting. So how do you create a successful game that many people will buy into?

Professional game researcher Richard Bartle came up with a good way of classifying the different types of gamers in the world in a paper he wrote in 1996. It’s become the gold standard for identifying player types, and anyone can take an online test to find their Bartle quotient. Although the Bartle test was designed with massively multiplayer games in mind, games these days are so multiplayer-focused that the Bartle test pretty much applies to any title.

Knowing the gamer types is important for developers because some of the most successful games in the world have played heavily into one of the four types, thereby capturing a huge segment of their potential audience. A few games score highly with all types, though this is rare and probably not a realistic goal for an agency just starting out on the path to gamification.

According to Bartle, here are the four main types of gamers and what they are looking for in their games. Most people are a mix of all four types, but are strongly dominant in one or two areas.


These players are sometimes called diamonds, based on one of the four suits in a deck of cards. They love to earn badges, awards and points. Sometimes they will work really hard to earn an item that has no real value in the game, yet can be displayed for prestige. A good example of a game that played up to achievers was the NASA Space Race Blastoff trivia game, which let players earn special badges that could be displayed on their Facebook pages, yet didn’t have any in-game powers. A large portion of the casual gaming market is made up of Achievers.


In the deck of cards, Explorers are known as spades, because they are always digging around for something hidden. They are the type of gamer who loves to find out what’s over the next hill. They love to discover hidden gems, also called Easter eggs, that aren’t so obvious. To please an Explorer, a game should have rewards for those who don’t travel the beaten paths and perhaps even a “glitch” or two for them to find. They are probably the hardest group to make a game for, but if you can capture them, you’ll do quite well.


Socializers are the hearts in a deck of cards. They tend to get along with everyone, so it’s desirable for your game to try and bring them in as they make the game more pleasant for everyone else. Of course this means that a game will need to have a social component, a way for players to chat, friend one another or at the very least leave messages. A game with a strong social component, and a lot of Socializers, is sure to grow much faster than one without such a group.


Killers are sometimes known as clubs, because that’s what they like to use to kill things. Seriously though, killers love competition. It doesn’t have to be actual combat, but a strong sense of person versus person is what they love. Games that are open-ended and allow Killers to build up or destroy a world are also appealing. There are even games that just focus on Killers. While it’s doubtful that an agency would want to go that route, its important to know that a little bit of a killer probably exists in everyone, so a dose or two of healthy competition will add spice to any game.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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