As I read about the different gamer types and related classroom behaviors, I couldn’t help but draw connections to the various styles of learning or learning modalities that my professors introduced to us in college. My undergraduate education professors taught us that everyone is one of three learners, with some overlap: visual, tactile/kinesthetic, or auditory. Basically, people either learn by seeing the content, hearing it, or physically manipulating it. In addition, we learned about 8 other learning styles:
- The Linguistic Learner
- The Naturalist
- The Musical or Rhythmic Learner
- The Kinesthetic Learner
- The Visual or Spatial Learner
- The Logical or Mathematical Learner
- The Interpersonal Learner
- The Intrapersonal Learner
To me, the different gamer types nearly parallel this concept of learning styles. Bartle (1996) classified the four gamer types as: achievers, explorers, socializers and killers. Achievers are most concerned with earning more points or going further than anyone, reaching goals they’ve set, and doing this the quickest. Explorers care the most about learning the various functions and elements of the game world, gathering information, and making discoveries. Socializers are most interested in interacting with the other players and getting to know them. Killers use their powers and abilities to manipulate other players, occasionally for good but usually not, and get their kicks from killing other players.
Most players, and thus students, fall into one of those four categories, but with overlap into others. Dan Dixon (2011) is quick to point out that while these four types are not mutually exclusive as Bartle claims, and the test is not valid, there is overlap or mixing between the types, and further research has given more support to these claims. Dixon also provides research on a new model based on those four original types:
- Achievement: Advancement, Mechanics, Competition
- Social: Socialising, Relationship, Teamwork
- Immersion: Discovery, Role-playing, Customization, Escapism
In citing this research, Dixon says that “Yee is careful not to describe his work as player types. They are overlapping sets of psychological and social ‘motivations’ based on player behaviour and preferences.” This framework, bulleted above, provides a finer outline of the types Bartle first presented. The killer player type is delineated into the competition and advancement subcategory. The explorer type has also be separated between the discovery and mechanics subcomponent.
What I enjoyed most was reading about how to incorporate these gamer types in the classroom. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about Fortnite, or some other game my kids are into, so this was a goldmine of information! Douglas Kiang outlines each player type in a more positive manner compared to Bartle (in my opinion) and how they might act in the classroom. According to Kiang, my students who are explorers are the ones whose sense of achievement comes from knowing the most information, learning just to learn something new, and the ones who will do an entire project or assignment— and not turn it in (I definitely am already picturing some of my students as this type!). My achievers will be the students who are most concerned about their grade, scores on assignments, and being the top in their class (again, several students come to mind!). My socializers are the ones who care most about talking to their friends and classmates, and who thrive when working in groups. Perhaps the most enlightening descriptions was that of the killers. While Bartle describes the killers as receiving their pleasure through the pain and downfall of other players, Kiang described them as the students who have a growth mindset! While, yes, they do tend to act without concern for the consequences of their actions, they’re also the risk takers. They make mistakes and get back up again because in the gaming world, they’re often killed and start over with nothing.
Kiang detailed how he would organize groups, keeping in mind the various gamer types. Depending on the task, he would either have a group with diverse types in order to collaborate and utilize each of their strengths, or homogenous groups with only one gamer type in order to accomplish a particular task based on the strength of each type. This is just how I might organize groups based on the learning styles mentioned earlier!
My biggest takeaway is that we can use the knowledge of the “gamer types” in our classrooms to play to our students’ strengths. We build a classroom community by getting to know our students as individuals; understanding their “gamer type” is another layer of that, and one that provides a more psychological understanding of their actions and emotions and motives (Dixon, 2011). And once again, since gaming is a part of most of their personal cultures now, we might as well incorporate it into our classrooms in a way that benefits everyone!
Bartle, R. Players Who Suit MUDs. Retrieved from http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm
Kiang, D. Use the Four Gamer Types to Help Your Students Collaborate. Retrieved from https://edtechteacher.org/use-the-four-gamer-types-to-help-your-students-collaborate-from-douglas-kiang-on-edudemic/
Dixon, D. Player Types and Gamification. Retrieved from https://classes.alaska.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-6026899-dt-content-rid-68781989_1/courses/EDET_S679_JD1_201803/Player%20Types%20and%20Gamification.pdf
Verma, E. At Your Fingertips: The 8 Types of Learning Styles. Retrieved from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/rhubarb/fingerprints-learning-styles.html