Bartle Test

Bartle Test

The Bartle Test is a useful mechanism for categorizing the behavior of players as you implement game mechanics.  It is built on theories about how personalities behave within games.  These classifications of players are useful when designing the implementation of game mechanisms. Each group will interact with the game mechanics differently, based on their personalities. The ability to develop a personality profiles provides a basis for planning. And when you can compare the anticipated behavior to actual behavior, models provide a basis for tuning the implementation.

The Bartle Test categorizes players into four groups.  They are:

Achievers
Key Attributes:  Enjoy difficult challenges, collect points or other indications of success, need feedback
Overview:  Achievers tend to concentrate on attaining observable measures of success and need continuous feedback on how they are performing.  Game mechanics such as leader boards are useful feedback mechanisms.

Explorers
Key Attributes: Not afraid to color outside the lines
Overview: Explorers are very interested in how game mechanics work and will actively seek out new or unexplained paths through the process.  Explorers make excellent exploratory testers and should be motivated with challenges.

Socializers
Key Attributes: Value relationships
Overview:  Socializers tend to concentrate more on interacting with other players than on game performance.  Game mechanics such as teams or group challenges will be effective in environments that have concentrations of socializers.

Killers
Key Attributes:  High competitive with other players, not good team players
Overview: Killers will go out of their way to provoke competition with players.  Generally these types of players are rare within IT because there is a heavy reliance of teams and teamwork. Killers can be used as a boogeyman to bring players together into an alliance to resist killers. In The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience,  Carmine Gallo suggested that one of Steve Jobs strengths was that he introduced an enemy that everyone else could unite against.  The killer can be that person.

Before designing how game mechanics will be integrated into your application or process improvement implementation, analyze the types of players you are trying to influence.  Assume that an analysis of your target audience done for a previous implementation will have changed.  Every implementation will different to some extent.  For long-term implementations of game mechanics, I recommend reviewing your initial classification of player types compared to observed behavior on a monthly basis.  Use the techniques discussed in the Daily Process Thoughts on retrospectives to find improvement opportunities.  At the end of each month perform a retrospective focused on tuning the implementation team’s knowledge of the players and how those players are being engaged.

The power of tools like the Bartle Test is to help plan and tailor implementations by focusing on the audience – the player that the change is targeting. Understanding the players will help to design and implement an approach that encourages engagement. And in the longer term, improves the stickiness of the change.

Related Posts on Gamification 

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

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