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Don’t worry, this is not Game of Thrones and I am not saying that your players will join forces with the Faceless Men. 

In one of my previous blog posts: Know the player, know the game, I made the following comment: “Bear in mind that the evaluation of personality traits can vary based on the situation and environment users find themselves in.” This blog post expands on the concept described here.

In order to understand the above I need to explain the The Hero’s Journey. In 1871 an Anthropologist by the name of Edward Taylor observed common plots in myth narratives. Joseph Campbell then published a book called The hero with a thousand faces in 1949, which described the basic structure represented in the diagram below.


the hero's journey
View this Hero’s Journey in 6 Popular Movies infographic and see if you can recognize the structure of current film plots?

This hero’s journey can be broken into three parts as described below:

1. The hero’s departure

The player/participant (the hero) starts off with an ordinary day as usual in a familiar world. Out of the blue, the hero receives the call to adventure which opens up their world. This new world brings excitement and a journey towards learning new abilities. There is some hesitation as there is a sense of the unknown, but the hero then receives an aid to guide the journey. Once this mentor/supernatural aid has joined the journey, the next chapter begins.

2. Commencement of the journey

With the hero’s new-found ability and knowledge, the tools and confidence are enough to commence the journey and there is a feeling of confidence and excitement. In this part of the journey, the hero is able defeat basic obstacles, but is then faced with a tragedy/loss and a sense of demotivation/despair sets in. The hero must dig deep and ask questions of their abilities.
Does the hero quit? Or does the hero continue to a challenge greater than their current abilities with no guarantee of success? If the hero continues, the next chapter is unlocked.

3. The hero’s victorious return

The hero has conquered the ultimate enemy, but in doing so has suffered loss, injury or even managed to lose life in the process. There will be a surprise twist as the hero gains a valuable gift of renewed life or a transformation. The hero then looks back at the journey with a sense of mastery and life returns to normal.

Now that we understand The Hero’s Journey let’s look at how this applies to the four basic player types and how the hero connects to each of them during the journey.

1. The hero’s victorious return

The hero draws on a sense of adventure with a the need to experience new things.

2. The socialiser

The hero would not be able to overcome obstacles by using only the known. Collaboration by working with an aid/mentor to gain new knowledge is essential to successfully completing the journey.

3. The achiever

With new skills and knowledge, the hero pushes through obstacles with new energy generally found in the achiever player type. This leads to rapid gain of knowledge and experience.

4. The philanthropist

When the hero faces the ultimate foe/challenge there is more at stake than survival. Once the foe/obstacle has been defeated there is a sense of mastery and with reflection this leads to paving the way for others.

All players are able exhibit qualities of each player type, but this depends on the situation. When creating your gamification solution, it is necessary to cater for all player types in order to gain maximum effectiveness. The player type that manifests within the player can only be determined during their particular point in The Hero’s Journey.