Recently I was introduced to the Bartle Test, a sort of rating scale of gamer psychology similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It has four dichotomies for a gamer’s motivation to play a game: Achiever, for players who strive to achieve and gain a sense of accomplishment; Explorer, for players who like to search for hidden secrets and learn about their setting; Socializers, for players who gain pleasure from interacting with other players or characters in the game; and Killers, who thrive on competition with other players.
It’s an interesting concept, but my problem with it is that it doesn’t seem to cover any of my biggest motivations to play a game. I mean, a sense of accomplishment is definitely part of it, and it’s probably my biggest motivation out of the four listed, but I really don’t think that’s what factors most into why I play games.
And I think the reason this doesn’t cover all the bases is because the Bartle Test was designed specifically for MMOs, and MMOs simply don’t offer all the features that games have. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some MMOs. I remember getting seriously addicted to World of Warcraft for a few months before I hit level 40 with my warrior and instantly lost all motivation to play it for some reason. But MMOs simply haven’t been able to provide me with the same thrills that some other games have given me as of yet.
But then someone else showed me the BrainHex quiz, a similar dichotomy ranking scale that has more categories. I took the quiz and it said that I’m a Daredevil-Survivor. Here’s the description I got:
“You like rushing around at heights or high speed while you are still in control as well as pulse-pounding risks and escaping from hideous and scary threats.”
This really seems to fit me like a glove. Upon reflection it seems like so many of my favorite moments as a gamer fit that description. Like the sequence in Half-Life 2 where you have to run and jump across pieces of a mangled bridge hanging high above the water while being chased and shot at by an enemy helicopter thing. Or the sequence in Amnesia: The Dark Descent where you have to run for your life through a flooded hallway while being chased by an invisible water monster.
I think the best example of this preference of mine is the fact that my favorite browser game is Canabalt, a game where you freerun across buildings while trying to escape from the demolition of the city. That practically seems like a game tailor-made for me.
To anybody who cares, these are the full results I got.
After realizing this about myself, you know what game comes to mind? Mirror’s Edge. That game is all about freerunning and surviving. Sounds like it would be right up my alley.
I remember my brother got it for the 360 when it first came out and I played it. I beat the first few levels, then got stuck on a jumping puzzle in a sewer somewhere and never played the game again. I really liked the core concepts in it, but there were a lot of little annoyances and frustrations. Still, I bet I might enjoy it a lot if I were to pick it up and give it another go.
Sadly I don’t have a 360 anymore, so I would have to buy the game for the PC. It’s currently $20 on Steam, and that seems like a bit much for it. I’ll probably wait until it goes on sale.
Getting sidetracked again. Anyway, another interesting thing about BrainHex is that it links each category to a brain region and chemical messenger. Both of the categories I fit into most (daredevil & survivor) are governed by the amygdala and adrenaline. This makes perfect sense to me, because now that I think about it the whole adrenaline thing extends beyond video games. My favorite music tends to be very energetic and active. Just listen to my favorite video game song. You can’t tell me that doesn’t get your blood pumping.
I recommend you take the quiz if you’re interested at all. It doesn’t take long, and it might make you realize something about your motivations to play games that you didn’t realize before. Hell, I linked to it twice in this one post, you have no excuse. And post your results here if you do take the quiz. I’m interested to see the variety of tastes you guys have.
More information about BrainHex can be found here.
EDIT: Does anyone know how to unlike these posts? I swear I didn’t mean to “like” my own post. That’d be a rather egotistical thing to do…
EDIT 2: Fixed.