Thursday, January 19, 2006

Food for thought

When it really comes down to it, games are about the people that play them.

If you're going to make games, you need to know about the motivations of the people you want to play them.

We've got lots of ways of doing this, but perhaps one of the best (and simplest) is a system called hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades.

Anyone who has been part of the MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) community- or happens to know the works of Richard Bartle- is probably already aware of this theory- it's been around for a while.

It's a useful tool for thinking about gamers and their motivations.

Essentially the theory breaks gamers into four core types:

It's all about the Roleplay for these people. They like the talking, the interaction, the social occasion and the feel of Roleplay. They'll roleplay their character's moods, talk to all sorts of NPC's and are often the driving force behind getting the gaming group together.

Hack and slash! These guys like the thud and splash of combat, the conquering of foes. They'll slaughter a thousand Orcs and not think it too many. A good session for these chaps often revolves around combat- or the preparation for it. They might have spell casting characters, but these are likely heavy artillery types with combat spells a go-go

Points and cash! These folk are collectors of wealth and power. They'll know exactly how many experience points they've got, are about to get and need to advance. They'll have their careers and skills all plotted out, as well as what weapon they want. They are the arch-acquirers, probably with the best gear, most money and holdings.

These guys like to dig into a game. They like feeling immersed in a world- and get a kick from knowing all sorts of information about the game. Be it knowledge of the complete history of the world, or total rules mastery they absorb the detail like a happy sponge. They likely have most of the books about the game and enjoy game sessions that either reveals or confirms some fact about the world.

Most people are combinations of these types- so for example, a Hearts/Spades
gamer would be really into the background and love exploring new locations,
NPC backgrounds and investigative adventures.

So now you've read the theory- how do you come out? Clubs or Hearts? Spades or Diamonds?

It's an interesting thought...

-The BI Dev team


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