More Social Than I Thought

Sometime in this past week, I took a version of the Bartle test, which is designed to categorize MMO players based on how they approach games. It’s sort of a Myers-Briggs (I’m an ENFP, if you wondered) type of test that ranks the appeal of being an Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, and Killer. (That wikipedia article summarizes each type of player and how they play, but check out this article by Bartle himself, which also explores the interactions between the different types of players in MMOs, interactions between players and the game itself, and how game design caters to each.)

Before taking the test, I would have guessed that I was an AESK.

I very much play the game for the sense of achievement, mainly through leveling, and completing the goals offered in the quests. Completion of a dungeon through teamwork is the best part of the game for me, and I love it when the game challenges me.

I enjoy exploring new areas, and do much more of this now that I have my flying mount. Because I’m so focused on completing quests, I wouldn’t say I spend a lot of extra time just exploring to explore, but I do love discovering new areas, new views of the horizon, and the little things that Blizzard has thrown into the backdrop. (That dragon skewered on one of the spikes in Blade’s Edge Mountains? I think it’s great every time I see it.)

The social part of the game was something I dreaded when I first started playing WoW. I’ve spoken many times of how I was burned by other players in Diablo II, and I’m still pretty cautious in my dealings with random players. I’ve been lucky enough to join some excellent guild(s) though, and have found that when I’m playing an unguilded toon, I miss that social interaction and it’s not long before I switch to a guilded toon. In thinking about what the test might ask, I ranked this lower than explorer because I know there are some folks for whom the game is nothing but a big chat room with unusually good window dressing and pretty avatars. I don’t particularly seek RP or spend time chatting with random folks, so I put the “S” in the third slot.

And then the killer instinct, by default, comes last. I do like PvP in the BGs now, but I don’t have the desire to kill the opposite faction every time I see them. (Though probably not completely in line with Bartle’s definitions, I assume killer players are primarly griefers.) As for killing the other stuff in the game, I do it when I have to. I leave the critters and non-aggressives alone, and typically only kill what I’m asked to for quests or if something is directly in my path.

When I took the test, I found that I got the order of three of those letters out of order. Given the questions, and how I described my thoughts on the different categories above, it actually does make sense though, and has been quite interesting to consider…

Before I continue, here’s the test if you want to make some predictions for yourself: The Bartle Test.

The test tells me I’m an ESAK. Really? Well, actually…

With a lot of these tests, Myers-Briggs included, you can kind of tell which side the answers will put you on because the questions are pretty simple. I could often see, for example, when the answer was clearly the achiever answer, but somehow, the other available answer was usually right for me. It seems that to Bartle, having particular gear or doing something first = achievement. For me, it’s way simpler than that. I don’t need to be first at something or have the best gear. I get a sense of achievement by just completing a task or taking on something challenging. In this test, it seems that being competitive with fellow players makes you more of an achiever, whereas I would have called this a socializer’s part of the game. Interesting.

In reading what I wrote above about myself as an achiever, the achievement I enjoy most could actually be considered a social achievement instead. In a dungeon, if the group does not function well together, the bosses will not be defeated. (It’s this social aspect that I’ve sought in some of these side projects, too, like Year of the PuG or even Pox Arcanum.) I’m fascinated by group dynamics, both with skilled and unskilled players (and combinations of them), and when a group really works well, that is the best thing in the game for me. So, on that count, the victory against the dragon is as much a socializer’s goal as an achiever’s? The lines continue to blur.

On the surface, it surprises me a bit that explorer would be ranked highest of the four, but in looking at the questions, the explorer answers, though inaccurate, were often the better answers for me. For example:

Do you tend to:

  • Have items no one else does.
  • Know things no one else does.

Well, the real answer is neither, but if I have to choose, the second answer is slightly more likely. Bartle includes knowledge of the game as part of exploration, so I get a point for being an explorer there, rather than an achiever. Same with the question about preferring to be part of a clan of scholars instead of assassins (explorer > killer).

In understanding more about his definitions of achiever and explorer, however, I wonder if I should be labeled a socializer first. If I were an achiever, I’d be more of a min/max type player, going to Kara for gear, and aspiring to more high-end raiding to “win” the game of WoW. If I were an explorer, not only would I have seen all the areas of the game by now, I’d probably be more interested in the lore, more prepared before entering the dungeons, and better versed in the theorycraft of my classes.

Instead, in the end, I’d rather muck around and meet fun people. Lately, I have found myself rolling alts on new servers left and right at the prospect of meeting and playing with new folks (particularly other bloggers!). Last night I had a great time leveling up my new mage on Kael’thas and chatting with BBBB and clan. For the last half hour (or longer?), I was not even playing. I was just parked at the inn, enjoying the conversation. Before I knew it, it was 11:30p, and well past my bedtime, but it was totally worth being a little sleepy this morning.

Perhaps it was obvious to others, but it has been a surprise to me — I am a much more social player in WoW than I realized. (Still definitely not a killer though. 🙂 )


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