A Beginner’s Guide to Player Types in Video Games

Daniel A. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Dr. Gameology on Twitch & The Gaming Persona Podcast
Owner of Area of Effect Counseling

Gaming motivations, player type – Let’s talk about out what your gamer profile is!

 

There are many types of online video gamers. Some people might be surprised to learn that there is more than one type of gamer. Different playing styles exist, and each has their own quirks and preferences. In this post, we will explore the different types of online gamers. We will discuss who they are, what they like to do, and why they play the way they do. So whether you’re a first-time parent wondering what kind of games to buy your kid or a psychologist trying to understand video games for geek therapy ideas, read on. Everyone can level up once we find what helps us connect better to the challenges in our games!

What are the 9 Player Types?

There are 9 main types of video game players: the Acrobat, Gardener, Slayer, Skirmisher, Gladiator, Ninja, Bounty Hunter, Architect, and the Bard. 
Image Credit: Nintendo - Metroid Dread (2021)

Acrobat

Acrobats are solo gamers who like platforming challenges and difficult coordination-based gameplay. They want to go through the game’s most difficult missions and bosses over and over until they’re ready for anything. Games that are moderately paced, that need some thinking and figuring out game mechanics on your own, are their favorite. Acrobat players really don’t care much for lore and world-building in their playing time. They’re the ones who love games like Metroid, Celeste, and Hollow Knight.

Primary Motivations: Challenge & Discovery
Image Credit: Mojang Studios - Minecraft (2011)

Architect

Architects enjoy building and creation in their videogames. They’re often found in creative sandbox games where they can let their imaginations run wild. The game is meant to be played. The Architect desires planning and decision-making that lead to the advancement of the game’s story. They also enjoy gaming with interesting settings and stories. They prefer playing solo, and may avoid teamwork or competition. This helps them have complete control over the way they play their favorite games. As a result, they prefer games that are slow-paced, relaxing, and serene. Games such as Minecraft, LittleBigPlanet, and Super Mario Maker are great examples of the types of games architects enjoy.

Primary Motivations: Strategy & Completion
Image Credit: Square Enix - Final Fantasy XIV Online (2010)

Bard

Bards are players who like to tell stories and explore narrative in videogames. Bards are people who enjoy connecting with other players in game environments that are full of history, lore, storytelling, and personalization. They want to be a part of a larger narrative in a community of gamers that together construct and influence the world’s narrative. For them, the game is a mythology to retell with excitement. They aren’t concerned with progression or task-oriented gameplay. They simply want an epic world to exist in and understand more and more. They prefer games with gripping, narrative plots that transport them to a world of fantasy. Games such as Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online are great for bards.

Primary Motivations: Lore / Game Design & Community
Image Credit: Bungie - Destiny 2 (2017)

Bounty Hunter

Bounty Hunters are all about collecting items and completing quests. They’re the type of player who is always looking for that one rare item or piece of equipment. The Bounty Hunter desires a sandbox game world that may be molded and explored. They manage above-average Discovery and Design motivations as well.  Bounty Hunters love leveling for power and upgrading their arsenals. They also need to see their characters grow and become powerful in the context of the world. Games such as Destiny, The Witcher 3, and Monster Hunter: World are great for bounty hunters.

Primary Motivations: Destruction & Fantasy 
Image Credit: Nintendo - Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

Gardener

Gardeners are players who take their time with games and explore every nook and cranny. The Gardener is searching for a tranquil and restful series of in-game tasks to work on. They enjoy gameplay where the rules are clearly presented in a direct way, and where they must tap into their desire for spontaneous interactions with the game requirements. They’re the type of player who will 100% a game before moving on. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, and Red Dead Redemption 2 are perfect for them. For less focused gameplay, Candy Crush, The Sims, and Animal Crossing can also offer amazing opportunities for this style of player.

Primary Motivations: Completion
Image Credit: Epic Games - Fortnite (2017)

Gladiator

Gladiators love the thrill of battle and competition. Gladiators are far more likely to identify as hardcore gamers and want games to engage them in every way possible. They enjoy nearly any challenge; team arenas, complex gameplay, progression mechanics, problem-solving and strategy dynamics, and fully developed virtual worlds to explore or customize.  They’re the player type that loves to be challenged by other players online, whether it’s in ranked matches or by fighting demons on Hell Mode in Dark Souls III. Games like Overwatch and Fortnite suit these types well.

Primary Motivations: Challenge & Completion
Image Credit: Riot Games - League of Legends (2009)

Ninja

Ninjas prefer difficult challenges, but they also desire fast-paced decision making and competition. For them, video games are regarded as a testing ground for their abilities and intellect. The low completion rates show a preference for match-based gameplay instead of drawn-out engagement with story. In-game progression isn’t as important to ninjas as it is to most other player types. It is all about skill-based mastery, not in-game advancement They’re quick and nimble, and they like games that let them put their reflexes to the test. Games such as Street Fighter and League of Legends are perfect for ninjas.

Primary Motivations: Competition & Challenge
Image Credit: Activision - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)

Skirmisher

Skirmishers are centered on Action + Social gaming motivations. They’re searching for team-based activities like battle arenas that are fast-paced, don’t require much thought or planning, are easy to pop in and out of. Skirmishers are players who like to use trickery and deception in their gameplay, often in Player-versus-Player (PVP) situations. They enjoy unconventional approaches, whether it’s finding a hidden path or gaining an advantage over enemies through subterfuge. Games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Dishonored, and Call of Duty are great examples of this type of gameplay.

Primary Motivations: Destruction & Completion
Image Credit: Square Enix - Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)

Slayer

Slayers are all about quick action and awesome stories in their gaming life. Slayers want to play as the main hero in an epic conflict. They enjoy games with memorable set pieces that come together to form highly curated storytelling experiences. Slayers are solo gamers that seek out more leisurely and approachable gameplay. They care less about leveling or strategy and just want to experience the game’s most memorable moments in a big way.  They’re constantly trying to find new ways to optimize their playstyle and beat records. Games such as Uncharted, Detroit: Become Human, and Tomb Raider are ideal for them.

Primary Motivations: Fantasy Narrative & Destruction

How do the different types of video gamers interact with games online communities?

 

The different types of players often interact with games online communities in different ways. Acrobats and Slayers tend to be more competitive, while Gardeners and Ninjas are more likely to be interested in the lore and story of a game. Gladiators and Bounty Hunters are often focused on working together to complete challenges, while Architects and Bards create their own content for others to enjoy.

Regardless of their player type, most players enjoy the social aspects of gaming and often seek out like-minded people to connect with online. Whether they are sharing tips and strategies, discussing new game releases, or simply chatting about their favorite games, video gamers are always looking for ways to bond over their mutual interests. Guilds and raid teams can be found in almost every videogame community, and they provide a great way for gamers of all types to find friends and allies who share their passion for gaming. Co-op is another popular way for gamers to socialize, and many gamers enjoy playing through their favorite games with friends. Knowing that we can form connections with other players is one of the things which makes online gaming so special. Whether you’re an Acrobat, a Slayer, or any other player type, there’s always someone out there who shares your passion. All you have to do is know how to speak up in chat and find them.

Click Here for more insight on the Social Motivations for Play

What challenges do the different types of video gamers face, and how do they overcome them?

 

Different types of gamers face different challenges when playing videogames. Acrobats need to be constantly challenged in order to stay engaged, while Gardeners need to find ways to avoid getting bored. Gladiators often get frustrated when they’re losing, and Ninjas can sometimes have trouble knowing when to quit. Architects need to be careful not to get too invested in their creations, and Bards need to make sure that they don’t get too wrapped up in the narratives of the games they’re playing. Bounty Hunters can sometimes struggle with motivate themselves to keep playing, and Slayers can sometimes find it difficult to balance their gaming with their other responsibilities. The challenges in the game can vary to attract a wider audience, or players can simply customize the game to suit their individual needs. Despite these challenges, all player types can enjoy videogames if they find the right game for them.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to videogame playing styles. Whether you’re a first-time parent or a psychologist trying to understand gaming addiction, it’s important to recognize which player type resonates with you most and why. When we can better connect with our gaming experiences, we can level up not just in our games but in our lives as well!

Thank you for exploring more on player types and who we become when we play games here at Dr. Gameology, and as always. . .
Continue the Journey!
References

 

References

Quantic Foundry (2020). Player Segments Based on Gamer Motivations GDC 2020.

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