Player Taxonomies: Reviewing BrainHex and Synthesizing the Synthesis Part I

Today I have a compound post for you all. This is mostly because I have been lazy lately and have avoided going to work on the main part of the synthesis. I procrastinated on it so much that I instead did a synthesis of one model I was going to leave out: BrainHex. Previously, I had not found much written about BrainHex. By happenstance, I managed to drum up a source that contains descriptions for each of the seven types described by the BrainHex model.  I decided to include it because the source was there and it would give me a nice fourth model to describe. Further, it gave me a reason to put off the overarching synthesis for another day.  Well, that was two weeks ago, and so I figure it would be a good idea to let you know what I found, and to do this actual synthesis work. In this post, I am going to describe my approach towards the synthesis and draw some preliminary conclusions. First, though, BrainHex.


BrainHex is a result of a large-scale survey process done by International Hobo.  Intenational Hobo Ltd is also behind the DGD1 work mentioned previously. I note that though the same company made both models, and that BrainHex is the eventual result of the DGD1 research, the two models are different enough that they can be compared.  DGD1 took a psychological model of personality types as a base, whereas the BrainHex model has at its base neurobiology.  BrainHex tries to tie personality traits to chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine and adrenaline), where DGD1 takes more of a behaviorist approach.  As you can see, the models are fundamentally different. BrainHex was also a model created before survey data was collected, based upon the neurobiological concepts  This information on BrainHex was jointly gathered from and this paper: Nacke, L.E., Bateman, C., Mandryk, R.L. 2011. BrainHex: Preliminary Results from a Neurobiological Gamer Typology Survey. In Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Entertainment Computing (ICEC’11), Vancouver, BC. 288-293.

BrainHex is comprised of seven types: Seeker, Survivor, Daredevil, Mastermind, Conquerer, Socialiser, and Achiever. Players who take the survey are identified as having a primary type and a secondary type.  Each type also has exceptions listed, which oppose the type. No type is opposed to any other.  My notes follow. [If you want to skip to the synthesis, click here.]
  • Motivated by interest mechanism
  • Processing sensory information
  • Memory association
  • Enjoys richly interpretable patterns
  • Curious about the game world
  • Enjoys moment of wonder
  • Likes finding things
  • Shows curiosity
  • Enjoys the thrill of terror
  • Neurologically uses epinephrine to increase the effects of dopamine (the reward chemical)
  • Fear center becomes hyperactive when perceiving something as frightening, releasing the epinephrine
  • Could be tied either to the intensity of the fear or the intensity of the relief afterwards
  • Wants to escape from threats
  • Enjoys feeling terrified followed by the feeling of safety
  • Thrill of the chase
  • The excitement of risk taking
  • Plays on the edge
  • Likes Navigating dizzying platforms or running around at high speeds
  • Thrill seeking
  • Challenge oriented
  • Likes puzzles that resist solving
  • Wants to have to apply strategy to solve problems
  • Likes to be efficient
  • Connected to the decision center of the brain
  • Wants to struggle against adversity
  • Seeks fiero
  • Likes defeating impossible foes or struggling to succeed
  • Focuses on anger as a driving force
  • Likes beating other players
  • Has a forceful behavior
  • Focused on people
  • Enjoys talking
  • Wants to help others
  • Seeks out bonds of trust
  • Goal oriented
  • Looks for long-term achievements
  • Can be obsessive in focusing on the goal
  • Likes games that allow for 100% runs
  • Likes collecting
  • Enjoys doing EVERYTHING in a game
  • Focuses on completing tasks and collections
  • Likes impossibly distant goals
Synthesis Part I
Here I am going to talk more about my goals for doing the synthesis. In another post, I will present my actual synthesis, which is the working model from which I will compare to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Keirsey is based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). As such, at its base Keirsey is a typed model (like Bartle, DGD1 and BrainHex), but gives individual descriptions for each combination of traits (MBTI mostly describes the four traits as dichotomies; Keirsey makes each combination its own concept).  What this means is that there is a rich amount of data to pull from to compare later on. The problem is that it is still a typed model. Nick Yee suggests in the Daedalus project that there is a fundamental problem with typed personality models.  The strongest argument is that people (and their personalities) do not fit neatly into little boxes (types).  Instead, they exhibit traits that rise and fall with time and frame, and they can exhibit behaviors that make use of seeming dichotomies. It is my desire to use components, as Yee does, rather than types like Keirsey does.  As such, the two models may be difficult to compare, but I will deal with that when it happens.  Until I really analyze the data, I will be unable to determine a number to aim for.
Looking at the data, I imagine the following will be possible components:
Goals – being driven by goals
Power – desiring to exert power over other players/the game
Knowledge – being driven by knowing as much about the game as possible
Story – wants to experience a compelling story
Building – driven by crafting objects or parts of the game
People – enjoys playing games with other people
These six are the ones that jump out at me immediately. I do not think that it covers everything that the models show. Some of it is more nuanced. These are just traits that come up again and again, and usually in the same way.  Story could be broken down, as could knowledge.  The three that are overwhelmingly obvious are Goals, Power, and People. Power was the one that jumped out at me the most, even though none of the models really put it in terms of imposing power over something.  It was instead implied amongst all the models.

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