Notes on 21st Century Game Design

I thought I'd post a quick summary of the player model presented in the book 21st Century Game Design, by Chris Bateman. He has since come out with a new player model, but the old one is still interesting to think about.

If you want to learn more about the book, you can read the review on Lost Garden.

In this model, the audience is grouped into four types of players:
  • Conquerors care about Challenge
  • Managers care about Mechanics
  • Wanderers care about Worlds
  • Participants care about People
The system is based on the Myers-Briggs personality types:
  • Purpose- where you get your energy
    Introverted (I) - long sessions
    Extroverted (E) - short sessions

  • Learning - how you process information
    Intuitive (N) - hardcore
    Sensate (S) - casual

  • Motivation - how you make decisions
    Thinking (T) - competition
    Feeling (F) - simulation

  • Structure - how you manage your time
    Judging (J) - goals
    Perceiving (P) - process
The four player types are defined in these terms:
  • Conqueror (TJ) - competition (T) and goals (J)
  • Manager (TP) - competition (T) and process (P)
  • Wanderer (FP) - simulation (F) and process (P)
  • Participant (FJ) - simulation (F) and goals (J)
There are also four types of skills:
  • Strategic (NT) - think ahead, invent, coordinate others
  • Diplomatic (NF) - resolve conflicts, find similarities
  • Logistical (SJ) - meet needs, organize, optimize
  • Tactical (SP) - read the situation, take action
The four player types prefer using certain skills:
  • Conqueror (TJ) - strategic (NT) and logistical (SJ)
  • Manager (TP) - strategic (NT) and tactical (SP)
  • Wanderer (FP) - diplomatic (NF) and tactical (SP)
  • Participant (FJ) - diplomatic (NF) and logistical (SJ)
Hardcore and casual players also prefer certain skills:
  • Hardcore (N) - strategic (NT) and diplomatic (NF)
  • Casual (S) - tactical (SP) and logistical (SJ)
I've been finding it interesting to analyze my own game ideas in terms of what play styles and skills they support.

For example, I came up with a way for Adopt an Invader to cater to all four player types in this model - conquerors, managers, wanderers, and participants. And in doing so, I realized that trying to appeal to all four types would make the design much too big and ambitious to actually create. So I decided to focus on the conquerors and participants, and make the experience as enjoyable as possible for those two types.

In case you're wondering, my favorite style of play is probably that of the Wanderer, which makes sense, given that I also tend to prefer Explorer and Seeker play. I tend to care more about the overall experience and fun than about competition and challenge, and I like to focus on the process instead of worrying too much about goals. But in real life, I am extremely goal-oriented. Which is interesting. :)

However, these player types are not clear-cut boundaries. They are fuzzy generalizations about the average behavior of large groups of people. As the book says, "The four play types are not mutually exclusive; one or more can be enjoyed by each individual player."

Just keep that in mind and you'll be fine. ;) I hope you have as much fun as I have digesting this new player model! :)


Jordan Magnuson said...

I'm fascinated by the idea of taking any random game and trying to adapt it so that it could figure out the the player's "type" and then adapt itself appropriately, to satisfy all four types of gamers.

axcho said...

Ha, now that would be interesting! :) You'd probably have to start with a very simple game, but hmm, it might be possible...

I'll be thinking about this.