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The Four Types of Users

Jim Shaeffer

Eugene Gan - published on 10/24/13

2. Explorers comprise perhaps 10% of the population. They are driven to find out as much as they can about the virtual environment you set up for them. They’ll map out the virtual space, explore its geography, or seek to understand the game mechanics and how it all works. They like to be recognized with social credit for having explored something. The
experience of your site is a major motivating factor.

3. Achievers comprise perhaps 10% of the population. These are the players who are habitually interested in accruing points and advancing in levels. Winning is the name of the game. Losing a game will likely cause them to lose interest in playing any further. Be aware that if you’re a technical designer or administrator of a website, by virtue of your skills and interest, there’s a distinct possibility that you’ll have tendencies in this category, so in turn it’s natural for you to assume that the majority of your players are in this category too. But as I’ve already mentioned, achievers are generally in the minority.

4. Socializers historically tend to be among the vast majority of players. They play to socialize and not so much to win, let alone win and expect others to lose. It’s not that they don’t like to win. They do, too, but the game is not the end in itself. They tend to be non-confrontational and play to simply have (meaningful) social interactions.

At gamerDNA, you can even check out your own player type. To be sure, none of us is exclusively one type or another, as each of us can demonstrate parts of each player type at different points in time, but the delineation can still be helpful. Describing your site’s players is so fundamentally useful that with just this knowledge alone, you can design activities and features that appeal, engage, and keep your players coming back. Why? Because when you can describe your players, you can better determine their motivations, and if you can determine their motivations, you can design your site’s experience to meet your players where they’re at. The main driving force for successful gamification lies with determining what it is that motivates your players and aligning this motivation with the goals of your organization or project.

For example, if your site is focused on apologetics and defending the faith, you might choose to focus on the gamification principles that appeal to “achievers” and “killers”. If it’s for mothers with little children, on the other hand, perhaps using the principles for “social” players would be more effective. Or take the use of leaderboards as another example. It’s easy to implement, but the disadvantage to the use of leaderboards is that it would likely appeal more to achievers than to the majority socializers. In contrast, the ability to like and poke can support the socializer’s style, as is the ability to use emoticons. Team-based contests, co-op (cooperative) challenges, diocesan or parish-level activities could cater to both socializer and achiever/killer styles. Are you beginning to see how you can mix-and-match gamification elements and how they might be determined by player styles?

Then, as your site develops, you may want to allow players of all types to customize and personalize their experience of your site as a way to encourage commitment to your site. For example, allow your players to create their own avatars or give your players the option to select which categories of news articles they would like to receive. And unless you’re designing a fantasy environment, it makes sense to use real-world avatars. One way to do this is already available to many players without a lot of added hoops for players to jump through. Simply let players choose the photo that they already use on Facebook. The ease and ability to use Facebook Connect to sign-in and register on your site may prove another incentive for players.

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