Player Taxonomies: Reviewing the DGD1 Model

Yesterday, I took a look at the DGD1 player types discussed in Chris Bateman and Richard Boon’s book 21st Century Game Degign.  I did this for my project on Player Taxonomies (which I talk about here).  My goal in this respect is to locate common themes within the various types and draw categories (or codes, to be specific) amongst them. I am doing this to be able to compare different taxonomies to each other, with the goal of making a synthesized model of player taxonomies.  Here, I am going to review my notes on the DGD1 model. Before I do that, though, I want to describe how I went about doing this work.

My book after combing through it.

To the right you can see two pages in my copy of 21st Century Game Design. It is rather heavily marked up with a number of colored lines. The way I did my codification of these passages was to read each sentence and consider if that sentence was a new concept.  If it was, then I selected a new color and underlined it (if it said anything particularly about that kind of player). This became a new code.  If the statement matched a code that I had already identified, then I found the color I used for that code and underlined the new statement. In this way, I went through each of four player types described.  Each player type had its own set of codes. So when I reached a new type, I reset my colors as if I hadn’t used any of them.  Once done, I went back and referred to the lines of a similar color, making notes and synthesizing them into statements.

That said, here is some information on the DGD1 model, before I delve into my notes.  DGD1 was developed by International Hobo Ltd by aggregating survey data from about four-hundred respondents via websites, supplemented by follow-up interviews and examination of data from an existing survey.  Cluster analysis was used to discover questions that were commonly answered together in the same way.  The research found four major clusters. These clusters were labeled by their primary tendency: Type 1 Conqueror, Type 2 Manager, Type 3 Wanderer, and Type 4 Participant.

What follows are my notes for synthesis. The format for these are Code Name: Description.

Type 1 – Conqueror [T1]

Achievement- Player wants to win, wants to pass the goals of the game and reach the game over having defeated the game. In multiplayer, competitive games, this means that the player wants to be the last one standing, to be able to beat the other players.  Most important is the objective of the game to player. The player wants to complete predefined objectives. Stated goals are more important than player-driven goals. Player prefers to be told what the objective is, rather than figuring out what the objective is.

Power- T1s want to prove that they are better than the game. In competitive multiplayer situations, T1s want to exert power over the other players, proving that they are better than the other players.  By completing objectives, these players feel that they have finished the game, conquered it. This allows the player to move the game from an undefeated state to a defeated state. It becomes subordinate. Players want to be seen as being an authority on the game. They want to be seen as knowing more about and being better at the game than others. The player is able to forego limitations because they want to beat the game or the other players. That is, they will do anything to exert power over others and the game.

Emotion- Players are driven by the emotions of anger, frustration, boredom and fiero. Fiero is the most important emotion associated with these players. The players want to feel that moment of triumph, of defeating something difficult.  The player cannot enjoy fiero if no effort is needed to get there. Anger is often associated with a pre-fiero state, but T1s do not need to feel anger. Simply, they just need to be able to attribute their actions to the outcome and feel as though they could have been defeated. Because boredom is also listed here, the player seeks mastery (via Koster’s notion that players become bored when they have mastered something).

Reward- The player feels rewarded for challenging acts. The more difficult the act, the more the player feels good by completing it. If a goal seems insurmountable and the player puts enough effort into it fiero will be achieved, by surpassing the goal. The feeling of fiero is a player’s internal goal.  Additionally, the more T1s can feel as if they have beaten a difficult objective, the more they can feel they are better than others at it.

Mastery- An internal goal of the player is to become bored, which means that the player has mastered the game, via Koster.  The player seeks to know everything about the game and do everything the player can do in the game. Specifically, T1s feel like they haven’t beaten a game until they have managed to understand the game, inside and out. They almost want to make the game a part of them, to make it second nature. This desire is driven by wanting to be the best at the game and better than others at it.

Replay- T1a will play a game a second time if they have missed something or if the game forced the player to miss something. Otherwise, they want to exert mastery and power over their past selves, proving that they can do better. The player will find games that are ambiguous, that state few goals, and easy games as being less interesting and may not even get through the first play. T1s want to be able to gauge their progress and mastery. If they cannot, the player will feel discouraged and uncomfortable.

Competition- The player likes to engage in direct competition, enjoying the social aspect of defeating another player. Enjoys delighting in other players’ misfortunes. “opponents must be utterly defeated, humiliated, and crushed underfoot.” Creating carnage is also an enjoyable activity, led by the desire to seek control over others.

Vicera- The player prefers the game to rely on instincts, rather than intellect.

Story- Plot is more important than story. That is, the series of events is more important than what happens in those events. Sometimes the player does not even care if a story exists. Will happily play games that just focus on objective completion without any explanation as to why the player is doing this.

Type 2 -Manager [T2]

Strategy- The player prefers to look at games as a strategic problem. T2s want to be able to devise strategies, skills, and techniques in order to tackle obstacles in a game. If the game does not allow for strategies to be built by the player (only one thing works, unable to recognize) the player is less likely to play. By using an understanding of the mechanics of the game, the player crafts strategies, always searching for improvements to existing ones.  The player enjoys finding new skills that can be made into techniques and strategies.

Mastery- The player seeks to master the game by means of skills.  T2s are unconcerned with game content unless that content can be harnessed and used. The player has an internal goal to be the very best at the game, but does not feel the need to exert this mastery over others.

Process- The player pays close attention to processes. T2s watch and examine how things work in the game, in order to get an understanding of them and harness them.  The player prefers logical solutions over chaotic ones. As such, realism is desired. In realistic situations, the player can draw on a wider range of knowledge to create strategies and tackle problems. The player enjoys trying to figure out what something is and what it does, hoping to understand it as fully as possible. Prefers, also, trying to figure out goals of a game, rather than being led along a path with stated objectives.

Replay- The player is likely to play games more than once, employing techniques learned from previous plays.  Further, the player is more likely to play the game if the player feels there is still something not mastered in the game. It is an internal struggle, always serving to better the self and discover new ways to get through the game.

Patience- The player tends to be more patient with trial and error. T2s search for ways to better approach the game, and they are willing to experiment. These experiments may lead to repetition or failure.  The player is prepared for this, and willing to wait it out. However, if the game refuses to follow logic, the player will be discouraged and may not play.

Challenge- The player prefers the game to have a steady progression of challenge and may stop playing the game if the challenge becomes too great too quickly.  That said, the player greatly enjoys finding strategies that break down this challenge.  The player also enjoys games that scale challenges based upon the player’s skill level.  If a game begins to provide challenges that cannot be strategised, the player will stop playing, as there is no reason to play.

Building- The player enjoys building things, although this is mostly found in the way of building a strategy.  The player particularly prefers building practical things, things that the player can use to aid in the mastery of skill.

Story- The player pays more attention to the series of events. This makes sense when the player is concerned with the cause and effect of objects and artifacts.  The player is somewhat interested in stories of intrigue, probably as a way to see how stories work on each other (the process of stories).

Type 3 - Wanderer [T3]

Fun- T3s wants an experience that is enjoyable and takes them away from their daily life. They want to play games that are fun, and without fun, they will stop playing those games. While fun is a very subjective term, it is nevertheless the one thing that the player seeks out the most.  For the player, a game is a place to relax.

Variety- The player needs a variety of activities to keep attention. While the player can spend a lot of time with one game, it is usually in short bursts. Between these bursts, the player will play other games to keep from dwelling on any one game too long. By flitting from game to game, T3s ensure they will have variety, even if they come back to a game they have already played.  Because of this, it is easy for the player to abandon a game altogether, which will happen if the game starts getting too hard or forcing the player to do things that player does not find fun.

Altered States- The player is tied to the emotions of wonder, and specifically seeks imaginative play. T3s want to enter into a different state of perception, feeling carried off into a different world or experience.  They want to experience something new and be able to experiment with that experience. T3s want to be a part of the game, but they still want their actions to matter. They want to change the experience the game provides them with.  Bright colors are often associated with games the player enjoys, and games the player enjoys are less static, allowing the player to change the environment.

Challenge- The player wants the game to be easy. Challenge can be a huge detriment to the experience of the game, damaging the fun factor for the player.  If the controls are too complex, this will also get in the way, providing an interface challenge.  While T3s want the game to be easy, they also don’t want the game to be playing without them.  They must feel as though their actions count, even if the actions are not difficult at all.

People- The player enjoys playing with others.  T3s want to be able to talk to people about the game they are playing with someone else.

Finesse- The player likes to do things aesthetically. T3s want to show off; they want to do it with style.  Completing an objective isn’t as important as completing it the way they want to complete it. They want their game play to be a signature, to show finesse.  They want it to look natural, like they are a part of the game, and vice-versa.

Story- The player is interested in the emotions surrounding a story in a game. Specifically, T3s want to be able to experience the emotional state of the characters. They want to be able to feel the situation as though they were actually there. A compelling story can pull the player through an uninteresting game, simply to find out what the story is all about.  The player may resort to finding easy ways to skip through the gameplay, just to get more story.

Sandbox- The player enjoys a game where they can experiment and change the world.

Type 4 -Participant [T4]

[NOTE: T4s provided the least amount of data, and so have the least number of codes]

Participation- The player wants to be an active part of the game, either from within, by being a part of an engaging story, or from without, by being a part of a community of play. They want to be in control in both situations.

Story- T4s want to be able to participate in an engaging story. They must feel like what they are doing in the game creates the story of the game. They want to feel like if they didn’t play, the story doesn’t exist.  Within stories, they are drawn more to interactions between characters, and specifically how the characters affect others’ emotions.

People- The player enjoys playing with a community.  T4s like to play games with people who are physically present, so as to be able to participate in the emotional state of the group more actively. They feel disconnected from people when playing online multiplayer games.  They want to be the one to set off a peal of laughter through the room, controlling the emotional state of the players.

Competition- The player prefers cooperation. Players working together to solve a common problem or achieve a similar goal is desirable for T4s. Direct competition makes them uncomfortable, but they will do it if the group wills it so.

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2 thoughts on “Player Taxonomies: Reviewing the DGD1 Model

  1. Josh W says:

    This might also be useful, although sometimes someone elses metastudy/syncretism is less satisfying than pulling together your own secondary sources.

    • incobalt says:

      I may have read that last year when I was finalizing my review of literature and writing my chapter on the model. The graphics certainly look familiar, but I looked at a lot of articles then and it was a while ago now. It looks like it does good work, but it does stick to and synthesizes a types model, which I have problems with in regards to the applicability of those models (a person is rarely “one type”, for example). I am also left a bit unsatisfied by the idea that most genres are found to be either achiever or killer core play styles. While this may be indicative of how gaming has evolved, it could show a difficulty of trying to understand what a genre is anymore (another of my own arguments) or it might show author subjectivity. It might also show flaws in the model itself. Since the unified model is based strongly in Bartle (who later expanded his own model) then the unified model there is also based heavily in a multiplayer environment (i.e, MUDs). As such, it becomes difficult to map the people axis of Bartle’s models onto single-player games. When I was grabbing models and starting my synthesis, if a model was based upon Bartle, I put it lower on my list of ones to use for the synthesis. Not because I devalued them, but because I was intending to use Bartle’s model myself. In essence, by comparing DGD1 and Bartle, I duplicated some of the author’s work, but I also took it in a different direction. The article could be a useful source, though, so thanks for pointing it out to me!

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