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The six player types, which were initially developed using the Bartles model in 1996 and then refined by Marczewski in 2015 form a vital part of the key messages found throughout our blog.

A summary of the key messages:

  • Always start with an understanding of your company’s vision or the end result that needs to be achieved before building a solution.
  • Make sure you have built the link from the user to the metrics that link back to the company’s vision in order to create smart metrics.
  • Have a strong engagement to foster engagement and once you have the user’s engagement make sure you retain it.
  • To achieve engagement you need to fully understand the user as the entire solution will be centered on their participation.
  • Finally, and most importantly, in order to fully engage the user you must understand the types of player.
In this post we focus on understanding the player types.

The first four player types are strongly motivated by intrinsic rewards, which is to say that they are motivated by internal motivation such as feelings and personality drivers.

1. Socialisers

These player types prefer interactions with others in a gamified environment. They don’t shy away from a challenge but prefer to achieve as part of a team. They are normally users that drive team engagement, are vocal about their opinions and their desire to share their successes.

2. Free Spirit

This player has two traits: the Explorer and the Creator. The Explorer loves open worlds and rich narrative based on the user journey to discover new experiences, and doesn’t want to be restricted in their journey. The Creator wants a sense of autonomy in their journey or their world. They want to discover new items and be able to use them to shape a unique user experience for themselves.

3. Achiever

Achievers want to succeed. They need to be able to see themselves moving up the ranks and to seek out challenging solutions. Each level has to be more difficult than the next, allowing the Achiever to feel a sense of accomplishment once the level is complete. The challenge continues forever and there needs to be a greater good to what this user is achieving (a new skill unlocked).

4. Philanthropist

Similar to the Achiever, the Philanthropist also wants to succeed and achieve something bigger than themselves, but with one exception: they expect nothing in return. These users enjoy the fact that they have mastered a specific skill but now have become a Guru to help others. They need a gamified solution to assist them in imparting their wealth of knowledge onto others.

The next two player types are motivated by extrinsic rewards: the need to achieve an outcome separate to the solution or achievement based on an external reward.

5. Players

They are motivated by the reward and will only complete the task if there is a definite reward at the end. This player type can end up losing out on some unique rewards as they don’t like to explore new things if there is no guaranteed reward.


Disruptors are similar to players but with one key difference: they will seek achievement even at the expense of the game mechanics and/or other users. Naturally, this can have a negative or positive effect on those participating within the solution or on the solution itself.


Once you understand these player types, you can then understand the motivational drivers that help to guide the solution design:

1. Relatedness

Socializers are the focus here: make sure to include social status, social connections and a sense of belonging when creating a solution for this player type.

2. Autonomy

Free spirits require solutions that encourage creativity, choice, freedom and responsibility as part of the solutions mechanics.

3. Mastery

Here the Achiever is being referenced with their need to learn, for personal development and levels to challenge them throughout the solution to make sure they achieve the greater good.

4. Purpose

The Philanthropist is catered for with the ability to achieve something greater than themselves and the ability to share their bountiful knowledge with others.

5. Rewards

Players requiring guaranteed rewards in return for their efforts. Leaderboards and achievements matter to them with a strong focus on extrinsic rewards.

6. Change

Disruptors who thrive on achieving at the expense of the game mechanic and others. They love voting and enjoy a sense of anarchy in achieving their personal agendas.

I hope this has helped to shed some light on player types and their motivational drivers, and helped you to identify the different users/staff that work within your organisation.

Bear in mind that the evaluation of personality traits can vary based on the situation and environment users find themselves in. We will cover this more fully in a future blog post, but for now simply make sure to account for all player types to allow for these dependencies.