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Ultimate Game Player Survey

This is a copy of a press release issued at the International Hobo site.

International Hobo Ltd is pleased to announce it’s new study into patterns in the game playing audience. Following the success of the company’s seminal DGD1 model, the subject of the acclaimed book 21st Century Game Design, we are now conducting a new survey in more detail than the original, from which we will develop a new DGD2 model of the gaming audience.

To take part in the survey, click here, or upon the Survey link in the site menu [at the ihobo site]. As an added incentive, you could win the game of your choice (terms and conditions apply) just for taking part!

We encourage everyone to pass the relevant link onto anyone who might be interested. Thanks for your support!

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Done and done. Posted a plug too - don't think blogger.com supports trackback though :(

Alright, new survey! I'm going to try and propagate this one as much as possible so you can get as wide a sample as you can :)

Hey Chris--if you're counting, you should notice a considerable increase in the number of survey respondents. I linked it in a thread on the somethingawful.com game forum--which has a huge population of gamers, representative of a fairly wide spectrum of gamers.

Oops, forgot to link the thread. This should still be a public forum though (SA forum membership costs ten dollars).

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2618990

You've naturally got their survey results, but I'm sure you'll be interested in their other comments. Hope my initial post does your work some justice :)

Jack: thanks - we did experience a big influx of respondants over the weekend... Now I need to find a way to get the same kind of volume of response from non-gamers or people on the borderlines; posting to comper sites is our usual way of doing this.

Thanks again!

PS: Looking at some of these comments, there's an error on the results page of the survey - it's saying "playful" for ludic and "complex" for paidic - these are the wrong way around! I'll get this fixed.

Hi Chris! If you remember, I am the one who brought up the discussion about "intergenerational piracy ethics".
I have been meaning to make the following post for about a year now.. Ever since I discovered your site from a link on some PSP news forums.

I find your writing & research fascinating, particularly your work towards developing the DGD2 audience model. I have read and re-read all of your articles about the DGD2, Caillois' patterns of play, play styles, and temperament theory. Initially this post was intended just to tell you a little about my play styles and hopefully become one of your case studies, but while reading your articles, I have had many different ideas come to mind which I would like to share with you -- perhaps a couple of things things you have not yet though of.

First, I would like to start by telling you about myself -- I am not a game developer, but I consider myself to be a "gamer hobbyist" and I'm also fascinated by Psychology, although I am not formally a student of it. My Myers briggs personality type is INTP. I used to score "INFP" when I was a child, INXP as an early adult, and now that I am in my late twenties it has shifted to INTP. I associate very closely with your description of "Rational Temperament". Precision in language, desire for efficiency in operations, analyzing systems, independence of thought & actions, skepticism (indeed, I am agnostic), "being my own worst critic" - these are all things I identify with closely. Interestingly enough, I also express traits of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (You reference 'mysophobia' in your Rational temperament article), mainly as a fear of germs which is manifested by excessive handwashing and use of hand sanitizer. I thought it was funny to hear you say you've never encountered any such people expressing Rational temperament, so if you have any questions for me about it -- fire away :) I identify with the Artisan temperament as my secondary pattern (I even "often procrastinate", which in one of your articles you said is the most dominant trait of "secondary artisans"), Idealist third, and almost none at all with the Guardian temperament.

As for my styles of play, they don't match up with my temperament, which leads me to believe that there may be flaws in your model, which I will elaborate on later.

I consider my play style: Tactical primary, Logical secondary, and Strategic third. Certainly, preferring Tactical play style would match up with my secondary "temperament affiliation" being Artisan, but expressing Strategic preferences last does not match up with Rational temperament.
Admittedly, I do occasionally enjoy Strategic gameplay -- My girlfriend and I recently discovered "Armadillo Run" and played through the entire 50 level campaign in a matter of weeks. We played it together, passing the mouse back and forth, brainstorming ideas for a particular contraption, arguing at each other why a particular idea may or may not work, and then lots of fun figuring out wacky solutions. I also like the occasional turn based strategy game (Age of Wonders), or puzzle games such as sokoban, or puzzle platformers like Mario vs Donkey kong & Klonoa. However with many strategic oriented games, I often get overwhelmed with games that have too much complexity or too many options.

But my heart lies with games with a deep level of control that require precision and timing. My enjoyment of these games is enhanced in games with good multiplayer features, offering a chance for true agon. I pretty much match up with the description of a tactical player, with the exception of "constraint is a source of frustration" -- I don't feel that I exhibit this trait. If, as in your example, weapons were taken away for gameplay purposes, I would enjoy it in a strategic way and not feel frustrated by the limitation.

Here are My top 3 games of all time & why I like them (all happening to feature multiplayer online communities):

1) Descent - Sensation of Vertigo. The incredible level of control over the ship's movement (move in 3 directions at once while you're spinning), the intensity of online matches, and the spatial navigation skills required.

2) Rune - online melée combat. the collision detection on this game is wonderful, making online swordfights sheer joy.. finding the right distance at which to strike your opponent at the correct angle, while still avoiding his blows, having to time it all correctly

3) Trackmania Nations - I've always really liked driving games, but this one truly excels. The community has made some deviously challenging tracks. Coupled with the true agon of finding other players of a similar skill level on and the sense of community has made this one of the most rewarding games to play ever. Admittedly, there is an equal amount of Logical skills at play here, i.e. memorization of tracks.. but I've generally noticed that I seem to be better at "sight reading" tracks than most other people online... i.e. I will usually win the first run-through of a track, and only after that will the other players start to catch up with and sometimes beat me.

All of the games mentioned require a long time to master. I've been playing Descent for 13 years and I still feel like I'm not very good (I'm really not compared to the people on Kali).

Other games I enjoy are very very difficult games that allow you to die or restart as many times as necessary in order to complete a level or area perfectly. This appears to be my expression of Logical play preferences. Games that would fall into this category are Trackmania, physics based ball rolling games, 2d platform games (especially challenge mode in mega man powered up on psp), Kuru Kuru kururin on GBA. On some of these games, I will die dozens, sometimes upwards of a hundred times playing a particular challenge.. but I rarely get frustrated.. fiero is almost always worth it :) These type of games essentially require multiple attempts at the same challenge in order to perfect a run through it. You must complete a "requisite number of attempts" at the challenge before you can complete it perfectly.

I usually don't get frustrated at incredibly difficult challenges as long as I know what the challenge is. I.e., "Get from the start to the exit", as long as I am shown where the start and the exit are, it doesn't matter how difficult it is between, it will still be fun to try 100 times until I master it and then experience the resulting fiero payoff. But I do get frustrated if the goal is obfuscated, for example I give up a lot more easily in a game if an exit is hidden or if I have to solve some kind of riddle or difficult puzzle. I also experience very little or no fiero from "searching and searching" and eventually finding something in a game world. I am more likely to feel frustrated that I tediously trudged back and forth in the game world, wasting precious real life hours which could have been better spent doing something else -- either something else more productive, or playing a different game that would have been more exciting during the same period of time. This is why I occasionally consult walkthroughs on certain games (although I try not to excessively).

Also, I have noticed that I sometimes express logical preferences in a few of the games I play in my desire to get "100%" on the entire game, clearing all of the goals. My wish to do this is mostly rooted in my desire to see everything that the game offers. To this date, there have only been a few games I have wanted to do this on (Gripshift on PSP, Kuru Kuru Kururin on GBA). As far as "collecting objects", this only seems fun to me if the object is located in an area that is particularly difficult or challenging to reach. If it is located in the middle of the grass, I would probably ignore it, but if it is located on top of a mountain that I have to jump or do tricky manouvres to get to, then I would be more inclined to attempt to reach it -- in order to make the game more challenging and hopefully closer to "true agon".

First person shooters are also one of my favourite genres, as well as 2d platform games, and recently I have begun to enjoy 2d scrolling shooters (shmups) which very much require tactical, improvisational type of gameplay. I've noticed that I enjoy manic (bullet hell) shooters (i.e. Cave games) which allow lots of improvisation, but I don't much enjoy the methodical, older school games which require you to memorize every level (like R-type).

I'd also like to mention that it is sometimes fun to set additional goals in games, that are outside the requirements of the in-game goals. I have only recently in my adulthood been able to enjoyably do this. It is probably a combination of maturity, and also the fact that recent games have more to explore and more in-game actions. My most memorable experience of this is when a friend and I used the driving game "Powerslide" more like an urban exploration simulator (us playing like this was a form of mimicry), trying to drive on top of the game's scenery -- mountains and buildings. We had to craft elaborate schemes on how to summit a particular object. Sometimes the ideas didn't work, but a lot of times they did. It was so fun, because we felt cunning for figuring out how to do it, and excited that we were able to "see parts of the game world you're not supposed to see".

I also find that games sometimes seem more fun when you are "risking loss". For example, rounds mode in Trackmania nations: if you fall off the track, you have to reset and wait until the next round begins, which could be another minute or two. This makes it more suspenseful while you are driving -- you are risking not being able to complete the challenge (and essentially waste your own precious time while you are just watching other people play instead of actually playing), which encourages you to pressure yourself and concentrate and try to do well. It appears this might be part of the appeal of Counterstrike as well.

---

I'd like to address Agon.. I think that for people preferring hard Agon, it is the experience of "true agon" that makes a particular game addictive. This has at least been my experience (see my top 3 games above). Being able to find another player who is exactly at my skill level has yielded the most intense and rewarding matches... some that I still remember and talk about to this day. I also enjoy playing with people who are about my skill level, but slightly better. I can beat them sometimes, but most of the time I am just 1 step behind them... but better able to learn from them and improve my own skills than I am able to learn from someone who can totally hand my ass to me :)

It seems to be a lot more challenging for game developers to deliver this experience of "true agon" if the game is singleplayer only. If you have a few extra minutes, I highly recommend you try out the free game "Warning Forever" - (link here - https://www18.big.or.jp/~hikoza/Prod/ ). It is a shmup consisting only of boss fights. Every time you destroy the boss, it "evolves" and comes back stronger, depending on how you destroy it. It intentionally tries to mess you up by including more weapons that you have shown to be weak against. You play and play, until the thing takes up 80% of the screen and you are no longer able keep up with it and you loose your lives or run out of time. "True agon" is reached at some point during every single game of Warning Forever, by every player. This makes the game incredibly addictive, not only in an "I've got to see if I can get further next time" kind of sense, but also because you've just had the exhillaration of true agon (even if it was just for the 30 seconds before you ran out of time), and you'd like to experience it again, and soon!
I wish that more game developers would be able to develop and improve on this kind of AI system and create games that are better able to deliver the experience of true agon in a singleplayer setting.
I really really like your idea of a "desired flow setting" for games (by asking the player an array of questions before they start) and I would like to see this implemented in games.

I also think it is important for multiplayer games to offer an equal playing ground for all players, in order to promote "true agon". I'd like to give an example of how EA totally ruined a series by adding unnecessary elements to a game. The need for speed series - NFS Hot Pursuit 2 is one of my favourite games ever, another example of the online multiplayer being good. Everyone can choose from the same set of cars. Most of the servers have it set to where you can choose from all 5 classes of cars. Anyone who has played the game for more than a couple of races knows that the 2 fastest cars in the game are the Mercedes CLK GTR and the Mclaren F1 LM. Pretty much everyone chooses them, and it levels the playing field. The great thing about having other cars to choose from though, is that if you are in a match with people who are less skilled, you can intentionally choose a slower car in order to handicap yourself and make it a much closer race -- essentially "forcing" a more agonistic match.

Contrast that with NFS: Most Wanted. I loaded up the PSP version a couple of years ago with some high expectations. As soon as I got online though, I only had a couple of car choices. Other people had different cars that I couldn't choose from. They had earned the cars by playing the singleplayer campaign and purchasing them. This is not fun to me at all! What's the point of playing if you know that another player who is less skilled than you can beat you, simply because they have wasted more time in the single player campaign? Not good. Conversely, It wouldn't be any fun for me to have the super fast car and beat all the slower cars either, although I know this is fun for certain types of players (sadistic 13 year old boys). The type of play encouraged here seems to be more suited to those preferring Logical/acquisition type of play, which pretty much has very little (if anything) to do with agon.

I think more multiplayer games need to offer handicapping options, it would allow a broader range of player skills to compete enjoyably with each other.

---

I'd also like to address Alea briefly ... Just mainly to give you Kudos on your statement
"I'm beginning to see evidence that the Rational temperament is a dominant pattern among games designers, and it does not really surprise me in this context that alea would be downplayed. The desire for total knowledge (and focus on learning) associated with this behavioural pattern is antithetical to the surrender to fate implied by alea - indeed, it is presumably not a coincidence that those who express the Rational temperament strongly tend towards secular humanism and other atheist belief systems - there may be a desire to deny the existence or value of fate entirely."
which just really makes me smile HUGE :-D
I also don't prefer this type of gameplay, unless it is something like random bullet patterns in a shmup game, which only enhances the sensation of tactical/agon based play.

Also , in your article on the Idealist temperament, you said
"This mysticism only becomes problematic in so much as it can often place them in conflict with other people – in particular, those who strongly express Rational and do not express Idealist cannot bear the apparently illogical justifications inherent in mysticism, and indeed often feel the need to verbally attack such views when they encounter them. Thus, the person expressing this mystical side of the Idealist temperament may attract conflict which, as mentioned before, can be intolerable to them."
My girlfriend seems to express Idealist temperament, so this statement describes her and my relationship exactly. Hillarious! (... and frustrating)

---

Fiero ...
This is interesting, I had never really thought about the emotion called Fiero, until I read your writings.. It got me to thinking though, what if it would be possible to train myself to experience Fiero after completing mundane daily tasks?
It seems to be logical that, if I am able to set my own tasks in a game (For example, getting on top of buildings in Powerslide as I mentioned before) and experience Fiero from completing the goals I had set, what if I could somehow convince myself that it would be equally rewarding to do the dishes?
I'm not sure if it would really be a viable goal, however. I think the main obstacle would be that the reason video games are so rewarding is the immediacy of the feedback you get from them. I really like Dance Dance Revolution, but it's not nearly as fun to practice DDR steps without the game right in front of me saying "perfect, perfect, great, perfect". Even though I'm doing the exact same motions, it's simply not as fun... This shows that a lot of the enjoyment comes from the immediate sense of feedback the game gives you.
Since the dishwasher isn't going to say "awesome job!", I think it would require brain-retraining of epic proportions to be able to convince myself that it's rewarding to do mundane household chores. It probably would not be worth the effort, but still an interesting idea that might be able to be applied in different or more subtle ways. I will keep thinking of ideas for how I might apply something like this.

---

Now, I would like to make a brief criticism of your research..
It seems that you hypothesize that a certain percentage of the population correlates directly to a particular temperament type, which in turn correlates directly to the play styles...
This can best be shown in your article about Tactical play style... You say:

"Assuming the distributions of players preferring the Tactical play style correlate with the Artisan Temperament, we would expect some 25% of the population to greatly enjoy this style of play – second only to the Logistical play style in hypothetical popularity (50% of the population, if it correlates directly with the Guardian Temperament). As a result, games that meet the needs of both Logistical and Tactical play could appeal to as much as 75% of the population, and thus supporting both play styles is increasingly essential to mass market success."

Just using myself as an example -- A person associating with Rational temperament, but preferring Strategic gameplay only distantly after Tactical and Logical...
I could be the exception to the rule, but I doubt it. There might be a significant percentage of people who prefer to game differently than what their temperament might indicate. I'd be interested to see more research on this...

One explanation for people not conforming directly to the model is that many choose to play games for relaxation, and not necessarily desire to use their primary intelligence skillset while gaming. Not an escape exactly, but perhaps wanting some kind of diversion from their everyday toils.

Perhaps it would be useful to include a couple of temperament questions with the DGD survey? It would be interesting to poll people on not only how they play games, but WHY they play games.

dj i/o: firstly, let me say that I haven't forgotten you, and thank you profusely for this extremely detailed self-reported "case study"! Very interesting reading. I'd like to engage you on discussion on a number of points, but the sheer volume of content the Brights post has garnered means I may have to be more succinct than I would like.

One minor quibble: it's "Logistical" not "logical". You're not the only person to miss this point: one of the people I work with can't seem to get this straight. It makes me want to shift the terminology, since this seems to be an extremely common confusion. ;) (The words are so similar!)

Okay, onto some technical points. You are correct to attack the idea that a person's personality preferences will match their game preferences - in fact, the research I have done so far shows that while there is usually correspondence it is far from one to one. I suspect, much as you suggest here, that the issue is that we explore different skill sets at different times of our lives. So, to use myself as an example, my primary function is Rational, but I did most of my Strategic play when I was a teenager and these days I am looking for a different experience.

Nonetheless, if (as seems plausible, if not reasonable) these functions are distributed to different degrees throughout the population it seems logical to me that the expression of the play styles will match the *proportions* of the expression of the personality preferences, even if there is not a one to one correspondence. As I get tantalisingly close to (maybe) tying the temperament theory model to actual brain function, perhaps I'll be able to be more confident on this point. However, for a first-order approximation it is something I am willing to assert as a possibility, no matter how tenuous.

I must say it was a matter of personal joy for me to read some of your accounts of how old articles of mine relate to your life - it's very satisfying to know that the time I spent writing the Temperament posts wasn't entirely wasted. (I have had very little feedback on them). :)

"True Agon", in the sense of meeting your level of ability, is also the essence of Csikszentmihalyi's "flow" - as such, I therefore expect to find similar patterns in non-agonistic play. This topic is too wide for me to pursue it here, though!

"...mainly as a fear of germs which is manifested by excessive handwashing and use of hand sanitizer"

This is brilliantly ironic considering the subject of Tuesday's Focus post this week! :)

So much more I'd like to respond to, but time is short.

"Perhaps it would be useful to include a couple of temperament questions with the DGD survey? It would be interesting to poll people on not only how they play games, but WHY they play games."

One of the things I wanted to do with DGD2, and still do, is produce a model less dependent upon temperament theory/Myers-Briggs, since I felt it was a flaw of DGD1 that you had to understand a pre-existing personality model to get full value from it. (Besides, we already explored this domain once!)

In the DGD1 survey, we expressly took Myers-Briggs type (and hence Temperament) as part of the data. For DGD2, we collected Myers-Briggs type from anyone who knew it, but the survey was so long I couldn't really include that kind of sorter as well as all the other data. But make no mistake, the goal of my research is always, as you say here, to explore not only how people play games but why.

This is an exploration with essentially no end goal that can be reached, so all I can do is polish and revise my models as new data becomes available and share whatever I find or suppose with others.

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts in this comment, and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to feedback to me in such detail!

Best wishes!

You are quite welcome! I am glad that it may be of some use to you. I've learned quite a bit about myself by writing my post, and by exploring your articles. They will always been invaluable to me.
I'd like to explore more of your older posts as well. I suspect I will gradually over time. Perhaps even upload them to my ebook to peruse at my leisure. It's always a battle with time!

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