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The Four Types of Users

Jim Shaeffer

Eugene Gan - published on 10/24/13

Killers, Explorers, Achievers, and Socializers - to successfully gamify your site or service, you have to engage all four.

Last time, we took a look at four common but powerful gamification principles. Which gamification principle should you use? Should you combine these gamification principles? It depends. Who are your players and what are their motivations? How might their motivations translate into preferred modes of play? How, in turn, do these preferred modes of play determine which gamification principles you use so that your players continue to be engaged?

The book Gamification by Design has a neat summary (p.68) of the ideal way a player is engaged and re-engaged. It begins with motivating a player at the emotional level (e.g., expressing yourself and connecting with others on Twitter), then progresses to player re-engagements (e.g., @Mentions), then to social calls to action (e.g., player tweets), and finally to a reward(s) where some sort of visible or tangible progress is experienced (e.g., player gains Followers) which motivates the player again and continues the cycle. This engagement loop nicely summarizes the journey that a website/social media designer hopes the site’s player will take. In the context of your Church’s site, the following example scenario might play out: a player connects with others and expresses ideas, questions, and reflections on the forums, then enters into dialogue with others as they post their responses. All posts are accompanied by badges or icons that highlight the popularity levels of the post and poster, which in turn encourages more followers on the poster’s Facebook or Twitter link as they find the poster’s topics and comments relevant, reflective, and thoughtful. This then factors into other visible rewards like greater moderator access to the site, which leads to greater motivation to start more topics. So ask yourself: what kind of player engagement are you hoping for?

In a Tamagotchi-style game, player engagement is rather simple: if a player doesn’t regularly engage (i.e., feed) a virtual pet, it ‘dies’. In like fashion for your web/social media site, you might promote repeat visits or better yet, a sense of accomplishment, by having points that expire. Prayerfully ask yourself: how might you encourage your site’s players to ultimately exercise their faith lives and not let their spiritual muscles wither?

To more keenly apply these gamification elements, we have to know who our players are, describe them, and describe their motivations and preferred modes of play. Who are your players? Certainly, we would like everybody to want to come and play, but the truth is it’s tough to be all things to all. Plus, we’re each given a gift to attract and engage the different people we encounter on our individual journeys. Even as broad-based a website such as this one has its own particular audience. For example, as of this writing, this website isn’t specifically set out to engage my 6-year-old, who is more than happy to read his Beginner’s Bible and Magic Tree House books on his own. And that’s OK. So, can you describe your players? Gamifiers are fond of citing Bartle’s four fundamental player types: Killers, Explorers, Achievers, and Socializers.

1. Killers(not the best term, I know, but it’s part of the gamifiers’ lingo, and to avoid confusion, I won’t change it here) comprise only a small 1% of the population. These are the players with the attitude: “I win and everyone else has to lose.” On the one hand, they can be disruptive: someone posts a thought or writes an article, and the “killer” attacks with declarations along the lines of “you’re an idiot,” trying to demonstrate that they’re smarter. On the other hand, they are the most engaged and active of the types. When properly guided, they can be the ones who keep the blogs and forums humming with activity and comments.

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