Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
Marczewski's Gamification User Types 2.0
Printer-Friendly VersionPrinter-Friendly Version
View All     RSS
April 18, 2014
arrowPress Releases
April 18, 2014
PR Newswire
View All
View All     Submit Event

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM TechWeb sites:

Marczewski's Gamification User Types 2.0
by Andrzej Marczewski on 11/29/13 07:40:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


User Types 2.0

I was trying to simplify and improve my gamification user types. Version 2 is just that and a little more. After more research and the results of mine and others surveys on the matter, I have realised a few things.

The four basic types; AchieverSocialiserPhilanthropist and Free Spirit are all fine. They work and can be left exactly as they are.  I am also happy that the extrinsic types (Consumer, Networker, Self Seeker and Exploiter) are ok, however – they have caused a lot of confusion with people. I made everything a little too black and white – it was as if people saw my intrinsic types and extrinsic types as good and evil!

As such, I offer this new version. It is not a replacement, more an addition. If you are using the current four or even eight types – keep using them, they work just fine! However, this is where my thinking and research has led me, so I wanted to present it here properly.

The image below shows the basics.


Six User Types

As you can see, there are now six names on the board. Philanthropist, Achiever, Socialiser and Free Spirit are still there and still represent the four intrinsic motivations of RAMP, however we now have Disruptor and Player.  Neither of these is new, Player was first introduced in my original work on user types as a name for the extrinsically motivated users. Disruptor was introduced recently as my “negative” user type.

There is still a split between action and interacting on users or systems, though this time Disruptor and Player straddle more than one segment. Disruptor is seen here as Acting on users and systems, where Player interacts with users and systems.

Face Value

  • Socialisers are motivated by Relatedness. They want to interact with others and create social connections.
  • Free Spirits are motivated by Autonomy. They want to create and explore.
  • Achievers are motivated by Mastery. They are looking to learn new things and improve themselves. They want challenges to overcome.
  • Philanthropists are motivated by Purpose. This group are altruistic, wanting to give back to other people and enrich the lives of others in some way.
  • Players are motivated by Rewards. They will do what is needed of them to collect rewards from a system.
  • Disruptors are motivated by various things, but in general they want to disrupt your system, either by directly or through other users.

Players are happy to "play" your game, where points and rewards are up for grabs. Disruptors want nothing to do with it and the others need a bit more to keep them interested.

This looks a bit like this

willing to play

Creating Grey

It took me a while to realise this, but black and white is actually not all that much use when talking about how people behave. Grey is a much more usable area for this. So, I have created a little grey with the new user types.  Whilst Players and Disrupters can be seen as distinct user types in their own right, they can also be viewed as modifiers for the other four types.


If you have seen the original user type descriptions, that is how I created the extrinsic groups.

Player types

So the Player characteristics of being interested in the rewards a system can give them can be seen as modifying the motivations of the intrinsic types.


The same can be said of the Disruptor. Their interest is in disrupting the gamified system. The reason for this can be varied. It may be considered purpose.  They feel that disrupting the system has a greater meaning, be it educating the creators of flaws or proving that the system is somehow wrong. It could be autonomy. In the intrinsic types, autonomy is seen as a positive motivation, exploration and creativity.  However, this can just as easily be seen as wanting to break free from the confines of the system – how can you have true autonomy when there are rules in place that you don’t like. Mastery can be achieved as they learn how to disrupt the system and Relatedness can be seen in the status that such acts can give them.

Positively Negative

All of these things relate to the positive motivations I talk about, but they would be considered by most as the polar opposite. Rather than helping, destroying. However, at this point it is worth considering the more modern meaning of Disruptive. These days disruptive refers to improving the system by breaking down the norms and showing new and improved ways.

As I say, this creates a lot of grey areas. Disruptors should for the most part be discouraged from being in a stable system. If they are hell bent on breaking the rules for no reason other than because they can, they need to be removed.  However, they may well be the key to unlocking better levels of engagement by showing you what is wrong with a system and how to improve it!

There you have it. My current thoughts on the gamification user types. It may seem like I am making the waters muddy, but if you choose to use this version of the user types, you will see that it gives you much more flexibility and a better understanding of the grey areas of user motivations!

More info

Related Jobs

Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Director of Engineering
Gameloft — New York, New York, United States

Lead UI Designer
Gearbox Software
Gearbox Software — Plano, Texas, United States

Graphics Programmer
WildTangent — Seattle, Washington, United States

Game Producer


Bart Stewart
profile image
Andrzej, I like the direction this is going, in part because as you add to it, it starts looking more like the model I outlined here a couple of years ago. ;)

Specifically, take the new hexagonal representation in your blog post above, and rotate it 90 degrees to the right so that Users is at the top and Players is to the left.

Now compare that rotated diagram to the two diagrams on page 2 of my Personality and Play Styles piece (
_styles_a_.php?page=2). There appear to be differences, but there are some very close similarities (which suggest that the apparently different parts might be similar after all).

1. In both models, the preference for Interacting-with is on the left and Acting-on is on the right. (Both of which are adapted from Richard Bartle's original four-style Player Types model.)
2. The ends of the vertical axis that you describe as Users and System appear to be conceptually very similar to what Richard described in his model as Players and World, and what I generalized to Change and Structure, respectively. The users are what change the game world, while the systemic rules of the system are the fundamental structure that defines that game world.
3. In both our models, Socializers are in the top-left quadrant and Achievers are in the bottom-right quadrant. (I understand that your interpretation is a little different from Richard's, but they seem closer to each other than to any of the other play styles.) I suggest that this is not surprising since I think our two axes (which create the four quadrants) are basically describing the same player motivations, so the expressed styles of play that result from the combinations of those two axes should be similar as well. In the case of Socializer and Achiever, they certainly seem to be.

Similarities noted, I think even the apparent differences may not be all that different.

1. Your description of the Free Spirit style of play as enjoying exploration and creating things is nearly identical to the usual descriptions of the Explorer style.
2. Your Philanthropist style in the upper-right quadrant (again, this is after rotating your diagram 90 degrees to the right) seems like the exact opposite of the "Killer" play style. But I think Philanthropist and Killer are simply two sides of the same coin, where the play style interest is in manipulating the game world and (especially) the people in it -- that's why I call this style the Manipulator, as seen in the chart at the bottom of page 2 of my article. Philanthropy certainly is an effort to change people, as is PKing them (in a game!); while they have very different results, both actions flow from the basic enjoyment of the artful alteration of others. (Of course philanthropy can also come from a desire to feel that one is a good person, which is more of an Idealist/Socializer motivation. That's another reason why I prefer "Manipulator" to describe the quadrant that is motivated by External Change.)
3. Player and Disruptor are interesting. In theory they should line up with the Hardcore and Casual styles from Chris Bateman's DGD1 model (which I show overlaid on the Bartle/Keirsey diagram in the second image on page 2 of my article). As you've described them, I not sure they do. But I might suggest that a Player is someone who is invested in the world of the game (open to rewards) while a Disruptor, like a Casual player, just drops in from time to time to get a quick burst of uninvolved fun, even if it's at the expense of the more invested players. I'm curious to hear what you think about this.
4. Finally, would your model support versions of the Wanderer and Conqueror styles, shown at the top and bottom of my four-quadrant diagram of play styles? Another name for the Wanderers might be "Tourists," with all the good and bad connotations of that concept. And the Conquerors are the players who work to gain a deep knowledge of the structures of the game world in order to beat it in the most efficient way possible. (This is distinct from Guardian/Achievers, who don't mind rather inefficient grinding as the simple path to securely win the game, as well as from Rational/Explorers who enjoy gaining knowledge for its own sake and don't much care about "winning" unless it's an interesting way to learn about the game's structure.)

The point of all this is not to minimize the effort you've put into your model. I just think I see some new similarities between your new model and the general set of patterns I described, and I'm curious to hear what you think.

Andrzej Sekula
profile image
Bart, I am happy you replied to Andrzej's post. The idea of looking at the player types through more general perspective or unified model makes the reality it describes more structured, easier to explain and understand. That's the purpose of creating new models or meta-models. Including Keirsey's temperaments in the analyses makes the whole model more general, applicable not only in the game context, but also in the real world.

Great job on the article, Bart!

Bart Stewart
profile image
That was my feeling as well, Andrzej. :) Thanks!

I try to be careful not to see everything as a confirming instance of the "unified model" notion. But I do think the number of theories of motivation that appear to see and describe very similar human interests -- which is what I tried to document in my article -- is large enough to support the idea that there really are a deep set of a few basic patterns. And if that's the case, then that may be very useful to people who make products intended for a mass audience, which is where those patterns exist.

That's why I'm always supportive of theories of play styles that try to reveal those patterns, whether they seem to fit the unified model or not. More ways to understand why people play benefits everyone.

Andrzej Marczewski
profile image
Hi Bart

Thanks for the response, gave me a great thrill reading that.

So to start. Remember that this is aimed as user type model for gamified systems, so there is a slightly different starting point to everything. The first is that in games people are playing because they want to, gamified systems that is not always the case.

So I took the idea of looking at basic motivation - Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. That was where the first 4 come from. They are the "Ideal" users who are there because they find it intrinsically rewarding to be there.

The player is the type that only engages for the rewards the system will give them (points badges etc). This type, in my model at least, can be again broken down into 4 types. Each is similar to the intrinsic types, but as I say display similar behaviour but only for reward.

The disruptor type is two fold. Disruptors are either there to improve or destroy a system. However, their motivations may well be the same as other intrinsically motivated users. They may destroy to express their creativity - the same as a free spirit would. They may improve as a type of philanthropy. The key is, they are doing things to disrupt - not follow the rules as laid out by the designer.

Now. All of that said. Until Richard Bartle saw my original types, it never actually had his 4 quadrant lay out! He was the one who described a structure it could have (
-Theory.jpg). This then evolved over time!

The upshot is, rather than looking at how players played, I was looking at why users would user a gamified system. The idea is to give designers a set of tools to help motivate certain types they want to engage with.

However. The fact that there are similarities between this and your models and Batemans is not surprising as we all are motivated by similar human desires. It makes perfect sense that separately we all come up with almost the same things – it is great actually.

Addressing your comments directly (that sounds formal, it isn’t lol)
Explorer did indeed change to Free Spirit. I was trying to capture the more creative side of things in the naming of it, that really is the only difference. Autonomy for me was more than exploration.
Philanthropist is very much as you describe, the opposite of killer. I looked at Bartles 8 types where he has griefer an politician – but both seemed too manipulative for my liking. The idea is to give of oneself with out motive. One of the problems I had with naming types was how people in enterprise would interprets them. Killer is a hard one to pop into a meeting with a group of CEOs – especially as in real life, in a gamified system, they are the people you want to exclude . If you transpose their behaviour into a real life office, they would be considered psychopaths!

I like your description of player – invested in the world. I will in fact alter my definition to include that! When I talk about this, people often think the player type is like a bad guy – they want the system to give them things. The point is, we make the system to give them things – so why should we be surprised when people respond to it and invest time in it!!

As for wanderer – not sure, will have to think about how that fits into gamification. Conqurer fits in with my extrinsic (player) types and would probably be around the Exploiter. They want to beat the system any way they can – to gain maximum reward. That may put wanderer up with Self Seeker or Consumer. Using the people and the system to gain what they want.

It is all really interesting. I did a thing where I mapped the original 4 to Lazzaros 4 Keys (with a little help from her!)
e-4-keys-2-fun/ – and they fit almost perfectly. There are patterns here – again because we are all motivated by similar things when it comes down to it!

Thanks for the great discussion starter – open for lots more! I am by no means an expert in this stuff, just an interested participant!