Although your gamification program won’t be an actual game, understanding the different types of game players is important, as is applying those specific player types to your business's customers and employees to drive desired behaviors.
Just as there are many reasons for playing games, there are various types of players — four, if you ask game scholar Richard Bartle. (He’s somewhat of a smarty-pants, having earned a PhD in artificial intelligence from England’s University of Essex.) Some players are more focused on other players; some are more interested in the game world itself. Similarly, some players tend toward action, whereas others are more about interaction. Understanding these four player types can help you design gamification programs that are more interesting to your users.
According to Bartle, the four business gamification player types are Explorers, Achievers, Socializers, and Killers.
Explorers in business gamification
An explorer is just what you’d think: a player who likes to explore and dig around the game. For the explorer, the experience itself is the objective rather than, say, accumulating points or earning badges. Explorers are particularly keen on rich environments; the more nooks and crannies, the better.
Born competitors, achievers will go to great lengths to accumulate points and prestige. Unlike explorers, who are content to toodle around in the game environment, achievers favor scenarios in which they’re rewarded for completing tasks. Earning the recognition of others is also important to achievers.
Business gamification socializers
Unlike achievers, whose focus is on accumulating points and prestige, socializers are more interested in the social interaction that is an integral part of game play. That’s not to say that socializers don’t care about winning and whatnot — they do. They just care more about the socializing. Not surprisingly, socializers have lots of friends, making them particularly valuable to organizations interested in gamification.
Killers in the world of business gamification
Killers are in it to win it. Killers don’t care if other players like them; they care only that other players respect them.
Killers are an integral part of any competitive game. However, you must resist the temptation to design a gamification experience exclusively for this player type. Doing so is sure to alienate anyone who doesn’t fit in this category.
Bartle has since identified more than four player types — eight more, to be exact. These are friend, griefer, hacker, networker, opportunist, planner, politician, and scientist. That being said, the four player types listed here are the ones you really need to know about.