ST 235: Introduction to Playstyles

Players enjoy different aspects of LARP. Understanding the different play styles and preferences will help an ST craft different types of stories for their player base. In 1996, Richard Bartle, a pioneer of the MMO game industry conducted a  research on player personality types in massively-multiplayer online games. This research was used to build a test which helps players determine what player type they are in 1999–2000 by Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey.

The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology

The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology is a series of questions and an accompanying scoring formula that classifies players of character based multiplayer games into categories based on their gaming preferences. It is based on a character theory which consists of four character types: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers. All players have some of each category in them and are scored using the “Bartle Quotient” which awards 200% divided amongst the four categories and is calculated based upon a series of 30 random questions.


Achievers strive to gain rewards. Often times these rewards will have little or no game play benefit but the goal for an achiever is to gain them for the purpose of gaining them.

An individual who is an achiever is looking for the ability to show that they have achieved something in play. Whether it’s a bonus, title or a trinket, it becomes the goal of that type of player.

In a group setting, Achievers are striving to show off their skills. Holding titles over other player characters fulfills much of the drive. Achievers either love or despise the competition from other Achievers as they look for praise from Socializers. As they become more powerful they become less of a target for Killers.


Explorers enjoy discovering the world and story, whether its an item or location or fact. This may be player driven ‘story’ or Storyteller driven ‘story’. Explorers do not enjoy being rushed through plots and moving at another’s pace.

An individual who is an Explorer enjoys the story and relishes in its memories after it has been completed. They enjoy retelling their tales.

In a group setting, an Explorer craves an audience who is willing to listen to their story and gain from their expertise. Interactions with Killers is often negative as the Killer player type gets in the way of the progression of the exploration.


Socializers enjoy playing a game for the social aspect rather than the story aspect. They don’t really care what is occurring if it is occurring with people whom they can socialize with.

An individual who is a Socializer enjoys most games that involve player interaction. They are often highly focused on politics. Games that are focused on their play style will include a very heavy political player vs. player component.

In a group setting, a Socializer will enjoy meeting new people. In MES this is particularly useful as they can utilize the internet or travel to other games to interact with a wider base of players.


Killers enjoy the challenge of competition with other players. Often this will lead to a very aggressive game.

An individual who is a Killer often will choose to play an evil character. These characters are necessary in a game setting as they keep the story moving and really embody the world of darkness that is represented in the MES genres.

In a group setting, a Killer will enjoy the competitive aspect of player vs. player competition. There are a few different types of Killer player types. These include those who are in it for the hunt, those who are in it for the competition and those who wish to find weaknesses and exploit them.

Building plots that will interest each playertype

These goals can be kept in mind when building plots to challenge your players.


The Bartle theory of player type states that all players have some aspect of each player type. Often players will exhibit strong preferences. These concepts do not dictate the type of character a player will play, but it does dictate what aspects of the game will interest the player in an OOC manner. Knowing what players are interested in will help STs to build a game that is enjoyable and will help an ST draw in a player who is searching for enjoyment.