Personality and Video Games
It will be no surprise to my friends that I am what many would call a “gamer.” Even readers of this blog should not be terribly surprised by this point. What I wanted to talk about today is not a particular game, but rather the way that gamers approach games. I have been considering it a bit recently, and thought my conclusions were a bit interesting. Rather than drawing direct personality-related conclusions, however, I will simply list the sorts of approaches I see people taking (myself included) to games. Note that these responses are not mutually exclusive, nor are they always adopted wholeheartedly; some people may agree with certain parts of a description and despise the others. Well, on to the descriptions!
- The first type of player is the straight-shooter. This sort of player approaches video games with one question in mind: what does the game expect me to do to win? The answer to that question dictates the player’s actions. In adventure sort of games, this often means going from one objective to the next. Sometimes exploration or side-questing are taken up, but that depends on the sort of game. A game like Skyrim naturally encourages exploration, while most shooters (think Halo or Gears of War or Call of Duty) do not offer much incentive (beyond some collectibles) for heading down every single corridor. Straight-shooters tend to play games the way you might see a game played in a commercial: the game looks good, because developers designed it to look this way.
- The second type of player is the exploiter. This is the sort of player who seeks out glitches and other ways to ‘break’ a game. Many games are shipped with glitches that make objectives particularly easy to complete (Oblivion had a glitch where you could clone items, and the original Pokemon was filled with infinitely useful glitches). Some players, rather than operating under what the developers planned for, decide to seek out or use exploits like these to gain an upper hand. In single-player games, most people do not mind when other players use glitches; what difference does it make to me what someone else does in their game? In multiplayer games, however, glitches and exploits unleash a whole flurry of fury towards any player who intentionally (or who appears to do so intentionally) uses them to gain an upper hand in a match. This seems to hold true even when the game is primarily co-operative in nature. Sometimes this sort of player will use cheat-codes as well, though these sort of intentional exploits rarely work in multiplayer settings (sometimes cheat codes work in local multiplayer; this depends on the game).
- The third type of player is the purist. This category can fit into either of the above categories, but the key defining element here is that the player will not look up information about the game, either through strategy guides or online help (in the form of YouTube videos or forums or any other type of assistance). The reasoning is often that the fun of the game is playing through it/beating it on your own, rather than having someone else do the work for you. This mindset is more prevalent in games that have puzzles (adventures games, platformers, or even dedicated puzzle games) or are dependent on your skills to get past a certain area (shooters, platformers). Rather than looking up solutions or strategies, this player prefers to hammer through the old-fashioned way: by many, many attempts.
- The fourth type of player is the observer. This person may or many not even play the video games themselves, but they find deep joy in watching others play. Sometimes this is due to a lack of skill; observers sometimes enjoy the spectacle of a well-done speed run of a difficult level, but cannot pull it off themselves. Other times, though, this is simply because the person loves aspects of video games that are not related to actually playing; this can be anything from the environment to the story to the puzzles. Some games are much more entertaining when you have someone to sit through the game with you (Amnesia: The Dark Descent is like this, in my experience).
- The fifth type of player is the single-player gamer. This person ignores multiplayer modes of games, if they are there, but generally sticks to games that are designed for individuals. This could be for a variety of reasons, but most often it is simply a different focus on story/environment over skills. If the player is not particularly skilled at the game, it harms no one, and there is no competition. Multiplayer games are extremely competitive these days, especially shooters, and this turns many people off to multiplayer in general.
- The sixth type of player is the multi-player gamer. This person is the opposite of the previous category: rather than enjoying single-player games or game modes, this person often dives right into multiplayer gaming. Sometimes this is of a more cooperative nature (either campaigns, “horde” style modes, or even things like raids in World of Warcraft), but often this sort of gamer is competitive to the core. Call of Duty and Halo are games that cater to this type of gamer, and they will spend hours honing their skills on the same maps. While the maps and levels stay roughly the same, as does the gameplay, the variety of players and strategies that a gamer has to go up against drives this gamer to continue to the next match.
- The seventh type of player is the casual gamer. This type of gamer often focuses on what has come to be called ‘casual gaming’: games like Bejeweled, Words with Friends, Angry Birds, and the like. Small, cheap, and simple games attract this sort of gamer. This is usually a person who doesn’t consider themselves a ‘gamer’ by most conventions, but will still spend significant amounts of time seeking to beat out their own high scores. Sometimes casual gamers transition into more ‘full-fledged’ gamers, with consoles like the Wii or games like Plants vs. Zombies appealing to both categories, but more often than not casual gamers enjoy their bit of entertainment and are content with that.
This list is pretty rough and far from comprehensive, but I think I’ve hit most of what comes to mind initially. Feel free to add to my list or correct it in the comments. Christ Abide.