There are no grief players, only players that grief – discuss.
This pithy conundrum came up during an after hours discussion following Richard Bartle’s presentation at ComWork last Friday (thx to TL and all at the IT University of Copenhagen’s Games Research bit for putting on the event).
Bartle’s presentation concerned the relationship between game design and player behaviour, eventually taking into account the interrelated nature of ‘real world’ culture, virtual world culture, players and designers – phew.
During the talk he made reference to a group of players that would descend on a new MMO Beta, play it dry (my words), then move to the next. That is, Bartle seemed to be making a very strong link between people and play styles.
Flipping to Chapter 3 of Designing Virtual Worlds one seems to detect a similar strong identification of individual with behaviour – there are Achievers, Killers, Socializes and Explorers.
Which got us thinking about the difference between types of person and types of behaviour – do we have to give up on the idea that players fall these archetypes and consider the alternative view that players exhibit certain of these behaviours in certain contexts (admitting that indeed some players do tend to exhibit particular behaviours a lot of the time, but that these may be on the further edges of the distribution).
Would such a move enrich all types of analysis of virtual worlds or is it in fact the very same view that Bartle is espousing and are we just counting angles on the end of a pin here.
To give a concrete example of why I think this might matter – in design terms it seems to boil down to whether one attempts to design grief out of a game (change people's behaviour) or to discourage griefers (change the people).