What is the average game player like? We all have our ideas. Below, you can see a profile of an "Average Player", and some distinctions suggested between this "Average" player, a "Hardcore" player and a "Casual" player.
As I have mentioned before, I have the data from the DGD1 survey and am carefully working through it whenever I can find a spare moment. I'm expecting to get some interesting patterns out of this work some point soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the more trivial high level data patterns.
What follows is a profile of the "Average" player in our sample. (Technically, it's the "Mean Player", but that implies something rather different!) As an obvious caveat, our sample consists of anyone interested in taking a play style survey - this is not a completely 'neutral' sample of all game players by any stretch of imagination. Still, it is still snapshot of a certain kind, and we can learn from it.
One of the conclusions of our original research was that play styles are not split into discrete Hardcore and Casual groups, but that there exists a instance of each play style for both the Hardcore and Casual clusters. This new data appears to broadly support this assertion.
Our system for identifying Hardcore and Casual players is self-identification. This means that those who fall in the 'Casual' cluster are at the very least sufficiently game literate to identify themselves as Casual palyers! I believe this Casual cluster represents Casual players on the border of Hardcore. There is also a third cluster of people who didn't know if they were Hardcore or Casual (we call these the "Unknowns"). I believe these may represent a Casual cluster closer to the "centre" of the Casual world.
The results are presented in terms of the percentage of people in each cluster (or in the entire sample) who answered yes to the sixteen questions in the DGD1 'test'.
- 319 respondents in the sample.
- 161 self-identified as Hardcore.
- 120 self-identified as Casual.
- 38 fell into the Unknown cluster.
All references to significant results refer to statistical significance at a threshold of 0.05 (i.e. 95% confidence). Any reference to the "Average Player' should be understood to mean 'the average result across the entire sample'.
“Average Player” in our sample
I first start playing a game, I absolutely want and expect to beat the game.”
32% respond yes.
I get stuck, I don't keep banging away at the puzzle. I go away, think about
it, and come back with a new perspective.”
50% respond yes.
generally enjoy messing around with the game - it doesn't really matter if I'm
64% respond yes.
game I'm playing isn't as important as the people I'm playing with.”
34% respond yes.
I'm working on a particular challenge, I'll try it over and over again until I
55% respond yes.
Note: Although there was no statistically significant differences between the Hardcore and Casual clusters for this question, the Unknown cluster is a different matter. These players responded in the affirmative to this statement only 32% of the time - considerably lower. I believe this reflects the fact that the further
from the Hardcore end of the spectrum one goes, the less patient with
repetition the players become.
want to feel challenged, and I don't mind the game adjusting to my level, as
long as it doesn't become too easy.”
72% respond yes.
Note: The Casual cluster's response here is significantly different from the Hardcore cluster (but neither vary significantly from the complete sample). Clearly, becoming "too easy" is a concern for Hardcore players but not for those closer to the Casual end of the spectrum.
I face a challenge that feels too hard for me, I quickly lose interest.”
42% respond yes.
Note: The Casual cluster's response here is significantly different from the complete sample and the Hardcore cluster. The Casual cluster has the highest response rate for this
question. This isn't wholly a suprise! I view this as a minor flaw in the survey that this question (and several others) skew slightly towards Casual.
I start looking after a game character, I feel bad if I don't take good care of
50% respond yes.
love it when I beat a really tough challenge - that makes everything
71% respond yes.
Note: Another difference between Hardcore and Casual clusters, with significantly lower rate of response from Casual players. This question is an informal test for fiero-seeking behaviour (i.e. the desire to achieve 'triumph over adversity'). Notice the number of people who respond yes! Clearly fiero is a significant driving force in the current audience for games. Also, it seems that fiero is less of a draw for Casual players.
like games with many different elements, so I can make diverse plans and
strategies. I sometimes enjoy a game I lose if I feel I put up a good fight.”
74% respond yes (largest proportion in
Note: I think this question is rather weak, and the high rate of response coupled with the low incidence of deviation makes me wonder if this needs replacing with a better question.
I get swept up in the experience of the game and completely forget about the
goals I've been given.”
63% respond yes.
much rather play with other people than play alone.”
36% respond yes.
Note: The similar response rates for Hardcore and Casual players are unremarkable, but the response from the Unknown sample is highly unexpected. If you'd
asked me to make a prediction, I'd have said this would get higher into
the Casual end of the spectrum. But the Unknown sample responds yes
only 8% of the time to this question. This is a curious result! The Unknown
players would much rather play alone, suggesting that whoever the
people are in this sample, they are (collectively) highly Introverted by
of the time I won't stop playing until I know I've seen and beaten everything.”
25% respond yes.
Note: Although the difference between the Casual and Hardcore cluster responses is not quite statistically significant, if the Casual and Unknown samples are grouped together, the sample sizes become large enough to tip the balance. This combined group respond yes 20% of the time to this question with a sample size of 158.
Although at first sight this doesn’t seem
much less than the 30% response rate in the Hardcore group, it is statistically
significant. Unsurprisingly, the Hardcore group is therefore the most likely to
respond in the affirmative to this question. We can conclude that seeing and doing everything in a game is a more important drive for Hardcore players.
way I play is more important than winning, because I want to master the games I
40% respond yes.
Note: Once again, the Casual cluster produces a result significantly different from the Hardcore (while neither is significantly different from the average). Mastery, it seems is a more common theme among Hardcore players than Casual. Not a surprise, but interesting to see the statistics supporting this.
usually have more than one game on the go... I don't need to finish one game to
start another - a new experience is more rewarding than mastering something
64% respond yes.
prefer a small game world with lots of characters to interact with, rather than
a vast world to explore.”
23% respond yes (smallest proportion in the
Hardcore Player (161 respondents)
It says something quite definite about the nature of our sample that there are no statistically significant differences between the "Hardcore" cluster and the complete sample, despite the fact only half of the sample self-identify as "Hardcore". On the one hand, this (weakly) supports our assertion about play styles being independent of Hardcore/Casual factors. On the other, it suggests our "Casual" cluster in this case is not greatly removed from the profile of a Hardcore player.
The key conclusions based upon comparisons between the Hardcore and Casual clusters are that players in the Hardcore cluster are more likely to be concerned with games becoming "too easy", appear more likely to be motivated by fiero (triumph over adversity), more interested in mastery and more concerned with doing and seeing everything a game has to offer.
Casual Player (120 respondents)
The Casual player differs from both the Average Player and the Hardcore cluster in several significant ways, although the deviation in this particular sample is quite small. The only significant difference from the Average Player is a greater tendency to lose interest in the face of a tough challenge, whereas when comparing to the Hardcore cluster, we see less concern about the game becoming too easy, less focus on fiero (triumph over adversity), and less interest in mastery.
Unknown Player (38 respondants)
People in this sample did not know if they
should be considered Hardcore or Casual… This probably implies a player who fits the
conventional template of a Casual player, but is not familiar with the terminology.
This is a small sample, consisting of only 38 respondants. For the most part, the Unknown cluster is close to the Casual cluster, but there are some interesting deviations (from both the Casual cluster and the "Average Player").
The peculiarities of this cluster are lower tolerance for repetition and greater desire to play alone. Perhaps this is an artefact of how the data was gatherered: Extroverted players are probably less likely to be interested in taking a Play Style survey. This suggests we may need to consider how we can gather data on more Extroverted players.
And still to come...
I will be grouping the results by people's favourite games in order to produce profiles of the players who enjoy certain games. There may not be enough data to process by individual titles (the largest single cluster for a particular game is for the Civlization games, at 26 respondents), and so I may be forced to cluster by game genre. Either way, it promises to be a new and intriguing perspective on the gaming audience!