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Profile of Game Genre Fans

What distinguishes the fans of one genre from another? Although the data from our current DGD1 survey is rough around the edges, a little statistical analysis can show us something about the key differences at work. 

This report goes through each of the questions of the DGD1 survey in turn, stating the result as averaged across the entire survey and then any genre cluster that deviates from this result (at a statistical significance of 0.05 or better i.e. 95% confidence).

One can draw genre lines in a wide variety of different ways; the genre schema we used here is the one discussed in 21st Century Game Design. Since all we are interested in is interesting anomalies, I encourage anyone reading this to accept that all genre definitions are effectively arbitrary, and hence one system is as good as another. The numbers listed in brackets are indices: top level clusters are expressed as multiple of 100 e.g. 100, 200, 300; mid level clusters as multiple of 10 e.g. 120, 210, 330; low level clusters end in non-zero digits e.g. 114, 223, 319. I have included these as they explain which clusters are included in which higher level clusters.

The clustering is imperfect; some people may be counted more than once in the top level clusters because each participant listed three favourite games and if these games fall into the same top level cluster the data may be counted for each game. However, the results should not be unduly swayed by this effect. Also, we are assuming that favourite games reflect genre preferences. Anyone who does not accept this assumption should consider these results as play preferences in relation to favourite games, and not as genre preferences.

Also note that any cluster which comprised less than 5% of the total number of respondents were ignored as too small a sample, and that the participants of this survey are not guaranteed to be a perfect cross section of gameplayers.

All that said, let's take a look at the results.


Profile of Videogame Genre Fans 

1. “When I first start playing a game, I absolutely want and expect to beat the game.”

32.29% of 319 respond yes. 

Higher results from:

  • Action Games (100) - 41.4% of 263
  • Shooters (110) - 45.5% of 123
  • First Person Shooters (114) - 46.2% of 106

Comments: it seems that the desire to beat a game is more important to FPS players than other players. In terms of the DGD1, this suggests that FPS games relate directly to the Conqueror archetype, perhaps. Note that the Shooters cluster here is so dominated by FPS games that we should draw no conclusion from its appearance. 


2. “If 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.”

50.47% of 319 respond yes. 

No genre cluster deviates from this pattern.

Comments:  the lack of any deviation suggests the overall result is a commentary on game players in general. Since this question effectively distinguishes between the Judging and Percieiving traits in Myers-Briggs typology, I would suggest that players are equally divided between these preferences (which can be understood crudely as a distinction between an obsessive and a laid back attitude to playing games). I am quite suprised that no genre deviates from this pattern, actually, but it may be that genres which deviate did not recieve sufficient instances to hit the 5% threshold.


3. “I generally enjoy messing around with the game - it doesn't really matter if I'm not progressing.”

63.95% of 319 respond yes. 

Lower results from:

  • Platforms Games (120) - 49.2% of 61
  • Japanese-Style RPG (223) - 42.3% of 26

Higher results from: 

  • Adventure (210) - 75.9% of 87
  • Real-Time Strategy (330) - 78.8% of 52
  • Racing (140) - 80.5% of 41
  • City-Based Driving Game (147) - 86.4% of 22
  • Life Sim (440) - 93.8% of 16

 Comments: the implication here is that players who love Platform Games and Japanese-style RPGs have a stronger desire for progress than other players. In the case of Japanese-style RPGs, this is logical - these are very progress oriented, usually built along a progress spine. Platform games are a more suprising appearance in many respects.

The higher results are interesting. Players of adventure games don't feel the need to progress? Why might this be the case? Real-time strategy players could easily be enjoying the play of the battles, and racing games are notoriously experiential (few players attempt to complete them). By 'city-based driving game', read 'GTA'. We were already aware that many players who enjoy these games use them as playgrounds and do not follow the spinal progress. And lastly, players who love life sims (Animal Crossing, The Sims) show an almost universal lack of desire for progress! Although this does not look surprising, it does suggest that these games do not need to spend much of their resources providing complex progress structures.

4. “The game I'm playing isn't as important as the people I'm playing with.” 

33.86% of 319 respond yes.

Lower results from: 

  • Platform Games (120) - 18.0% of 61

Comments: players who like platform games appear to be more introverted (or less affiliative, which is not the same thing) than players in general, by quite a margin. I have always thought of platform games as having a wider appeal, but this result makes me wonder. I guess we won't be seeing any successful massively multiplayer platform games. :) 


5. “When I'm working on a particular challenge, I'll try it over and over again until I beat it.”

55.17% of 319 respond yes. 

Higher results from:

  • Massively Multiplayer RPGs (228) - 66.7% of 111

Comments: perhaps this says more about how MMORPGs are structured than anything else. Once the player is emotionally invested, they feel they must beat the challenges they face. Alternatively, it might be that MMORPG players are more obsessive than other players.

6. “I want to feel challenged, and I don't mind the game adjusting to my level, as long as it doesn't become too easy.” 

71.79% of 319 respond yes.

Lower results from: 

  • City-Based Driving Game (147) - 50.0% of 22

Comments: fans of GTA don't feel as great a need to be challenged? Once again it seems that fans of GTA love the playground world more than the spine missions. 


7. “When I face a challenge that feels too hard for me, I quickly lose interest.”

42.32% of 319 respond yes. 

Lower results from:

  • Massively Multiplayer RPGs (228) - 30.6% of 111

Comments: I suppose if MMORPG players did quickly lose interest in their games they would not have many subscribers! As with question 5, it seems that 'obsessive' tendancies might be slightly more prevalant among MMORPG fans.


8. “Once I start looking after a game character, I feel bad if I don't take good care of them.”

50.16% of 319 respond yes. 

Lower results from:

  • Racing (140) - 29.3% of 41
  • City-Based Driving Game (147) - 27.3% of 22

Higher results from: 

  • Strategy (300) - 61.8% of 110
  • Western-Style RPG - 68.0% of 50
  • Platform Adventures (125) - 73.9% of 23

Comments: One can hardly be surprised that fans of GTA are not interested in looking after game characters! If ever there was a game based upon abusing NPCs... Racing games notoriously have no characters, so its appearance as a lower result might not be suprising; it does suggest that fans of Racing games are less affiliative than other players, which might be expected.

In terms of the higher results, the presence of Strategy games may reflect what might be called "the X-com effect": players of that particular game reported becoming very attached to their characters. Perhaps certain Strategy games should endeavour to have more personalities and fewer faceless units? That we see the same result in Western-style cRPGs is equally not suprising. Whereas Japanese cRPGs tend to provide static characters, Western-style cRPGs place more of a premium on the player's freedom to create and/or select the characters they want in their party.

What does suprise me here is the high result for Platform Adventures. Is it possible that the success of the Tomb Raider games has more to do with the appeal of Lara Croft than with the gameplay? This does not seem to be true for the Prince of Persia series (which were the most popular games in this cluster), as a by-title analysis shows a low result on this question for fans of these games. The fact that Psychonauts was included in this cluster might have skewed the results, as a by-title analysis reveals a statistically significant result on this question for Psychonauts at 100%, but since this was only 4 respondants, this is inconclusive at best, especially since several other clusters also show a 100% response rate (albiet for small clusters: Castlevania - 2 respondants, and Tomb Raider - 2 respondants). Whatever the reason, this is certainly not a result I would have predicted. 


9. “I love it when I beat a really tough challenge - that makes everything worthwhile.”

71.16% of 319 respond yes. 

No genre cluster deviates from this pattern.

Comments: I find this result extremely surprising! It seems that fiero is more widespread than I might have expected. When I first saw the overal result, I thought it might be the product of a skewing effect in the sample, but the fact that no genre deviates from this pattern suggests instead that fiero is a widely enjoyed emotion. Of course, this question does not dig into how much frustration different players are willing to endure to get the fiero. More research on fiero is definately indicated! In terms of where I am working towards in DGD2, I am working now on the assumption that different players achieve fiero in different ways, according to their skills - that there might be Tactical, Strategic, Logistical and Diplomatic fiero, for instance. I am looking forward to exploring this further.

10. I 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.

73.67% of 319 respond yes. 

Lower results from:

  • Platform Games (120) - 57.4% of 61
  • Puzzle (510) - 54.5% of 33

Higher results from: 

  • Massively Multiplayer RPGs (228) - 83.8% of 111
  • Strategy (300) - 84.5% of 110

Comments: there's the Platform Games again. Diversity of play not a factor for fans of these games? Perhaps it is the clarity of purpose in these games (e.g. collect all widgets) that underlies their appeal. Fans of Puzzle games also produce a lower result... this is less suprising, perhaps, as the appeal of a good Puzzle game generally lies in its simplicity. It does suggest that people making Puzzle games should not bother to add unnecessary complexity to them. Since the core market for Puzzle games is shifting towards the Casual market, we shouldn't be wholly suprised.

Now look at the higher results. Strategy games are a completely obvious candidate;  the question is practically targeting fans of these games. MMORPGs are slightly more suprising, but it does show that fans of these games want there to be sufficiently diverse elements for the play to allow for different strategies and plans. Why MMORPG players and not cRPGs, though?

However, I consider this question to be somewhat weak, as it has two clauses which need not relate.

11. “Sometimes I get swept up in the experience of the game and completely forget about the goals I've been given.”

63.01% of 319 respond yes. 

No genre cluster deviates from this pattern.

Comments: if this is seen as a test for immersion, it suggests that (like fiero) this is something akin to a universal player draw.

12. “I'd much rather play with other people than play alone.”

36.05% of 319 respond yes.

Lower results from: 

  • Adventure (210) - 20.7% of 87
  • Action Adventure (213) - 19.7% of 66 

Higher results from:

  • Massively Multiplayer RPGs (228) - 46.8% of 111

Comments: Adventure and Action Adventure players are showing up as being more introverted than the norm. This is not a great suprise; these are problem solving games, and Logical approaches and Affiliative approaches can be considered contrary.

As for MMORPGs providing a higher result, this isn't a surprise - but the idea that more than half MMORPG players are happy to play alone suggests that the idea that MMORPG players are more extroverted than other game players is an incomplete picture. Many MMORPG players, it would seem, aren't gaining much of a personal benefit from the presence of other players. 


13. “Most of the time I won't stop playing until I know I've seen and beaten everything.”

25.08% of 319 respond yes. 

No genre cluster deviates from this pattern.

Comments:  this is a test for the most obsessive player tendencies, and the result is quite low overall. That no genre cluster deviates significantly might just reflect the low incidence of the tendency overall, or it may be that players who express this tendency are not correlated by genre in any meaningful manner. 


14. “The way I play is more important than winning, because I want to master the games I play.”

39.81% of 319 respond yes. 

No genre cluster deviates from this pattern.

Comments: the comment for question 2 applies here to some extent. It does seem, however, that the desire to win is slightly less prevalent than the capacity to step back and take a breather when facing a tough challenge. I half expected Strategy games to show up as a deviation for this question; I guess there are indeed many people who play Strategy games to win.

15. “I 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 familiar.”

63.64% of 319 respond yes. 

Higher results from:

  • Simulation (400) - 79.1% of 43

Comments: it seems that fans of Simulation games might be less interested in completing games than other players. Since the popular sim games are usually fairly 'toyplay' in their approach, this is not much of a surprise.

16. “I prefer a small game world with lots of characters to interact with, rather than a vast world to explore.”

22.57% of 319 respond yes. 

Lower results from:

  • Role-Playing Games (220) - 15.0% of 233
  • Massively Multiplayer RPGs (228) - 9.0% of 111

Comments: one can hardly be surprised that players of cRPGs want a vast world to explore! Similarly, the idea that the draw of MMORPGs is partly in the vastness of their worlds is not exactly suprising. Perhaps this  relates to question 12; the more introverted MMORPG players might be there for the vast world, and not for the other players.

Final Disclaimer

This survey was provided as a means of explaining the DGD1 model to a wider audience. The use of the data here is highly speculative, and one should not assume that anything revealed here is anything other than a curiosity; a faint indication of vague trends. Nonetheless, it does point out a few suprising results - particularly in those questions which do not significantly deviate by genre cluster.

I hope that you will feel free to share your impressions of these results in the comments, as there is plenty of room for interpretation!


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3. “I generally enjoy messing around with the game - it doesn't really matter if I'm not progressing.”
I agree about platformers- as soon as I saw it, I felt it was out of place. I suspect it is weighed down by the action platformers, in which I can see why that would be the case. With other platformers like Mario and Sonic, it just doesn't make any sense that progression should be so important. These games exist just to showcase their control- the people who like them are the people who like the control, and for that it makes no difference whether they are progressing.

I have to disagree, though, when you act surprised to see adventures in the "higher" list. Adventures are usually leisurely experiences in which it is beneficial to take the time to look at everything and where progression only comes through logic and patience. It makes perfect sense that people who like them wouldn't be in a rush to get anywhere.

4. “The game I'm playing isn't as important as the people I'm playing with.”
Again, the results make sense if you take into account what I said about platformers. If you play a platformer, it's because you want to experience the controls. Multiplayer challenges and experiences are just a distraction from this goal. No MMO platformers, indeed.

Some of these, particularly the preference for world size over character involvement, is distirbing to me. I'm rationalizing this by imagining that your survey group doesn't well represent the participant play style, or have much representation of the crossover market of casual and non-gamers. I suspect your scores regarding Feiro would be much lower in this regard.

If I'm wrong about this, then I'd like to hear about it. My expectations of whats sellable woud be way off if these represent the whole market.

3 - I'm not surprised to see that Platform games ranked lower. In many cases, while exploration is available it is not the driving force behind play. There is usually a fixed goal and designed path to play along. There is more exploration in some newer games, and a few that deviate completely (Mario 64). But think back to a number of classic platformers (Super Mario World - SNES): while there is ability to explore the world on a meta level, you are still driven to progress through individual levels. If you enter a level and are unable to complete it, or achieve a new goal within the level, then there exists a lack of desired progress.

In the case of Adventure Games being more free-form... I suggest playing a Myst game. You are simply dropped in a world, with some vague end-goals and told to explore. Meandering, fiddling, exploring, and discovering in a leisurely fashion is the name of the game. While the story may reach bottlenecks where progress is imminent or driven by the story, a lot of these games are very relaxed and open.

4 - I believe that Platform games scored lower because they are rarely designed for multiple participants. Few are multiplayer at all, and I would challenge you to name five good platform games that have comprehensive and fun co-op play. When I play with others, I don't want them to be passive observers. (I think that Lego Star Wars may be one platform game that has interesting co-op play).

10 - Platform games' lower score may be explained by the puzzle required. Most platform games have simple puzzle systems (if any). Adding to the number of things that the user has to manage adds undue complexity. Typically this is type of game consists of world navigation, enemy avoidance, offensive manoeuvres, collection of objects, activation of objects. Additional puzzle elements escalates this already complex mix. Simple tends to be better.

Similarly in puzzle games, too many elements makes the game escalate in difficulty rather quickly. The second half of the question may also come into play, as few people like to be beaten by the game when they have no control. There is nothing more frustrating in a puzzle-style game than being thrown an unusable set of items and subsequently losing.

Lego Star Wars was more of an action game than a platformer, with extremely simplistic controls.

Congratulations on the great work, Chris! It's fantastic to finally see the results of this!

Minor quibble: I wouldn't naturally think of GTA as a city-based driving game, but as I remember the questionnaire you were asking for game names, I think, so I guess that's you putting your term on the game people cited, rather than lumping the game into a category people cited. I would have thought of city-based driving as e.g. Burnout or Midnight Club, with GTA being a "free-roaming" sort of game, in the same category as Spider-Man 2 and so forth.

Question 6: This question was a bit ambiguous. You seem to have taken an indication of whether people want a challenge, whereas (at least when I answered the survey) I saw it as being about whether I wanted my challenge to be absolute or relative. (To climb an unmoving mountain, or to overcome a peer in a struggle.)

Question 10: You're right, this isn't a useful question. As a player who loves Tetris, Meteos and Lumines, I would (in relation to those games) agree with the second proposition but not the first. As a lover of Starcraft and Rise of Nations, I would agree with both propositions. And as a player of SoulCalibur and GTA, I'd agree only with the first.

Question 12 MIGHT have benefited from distinguishing between playing a game WITH people (ie MMOGs), and playing a game IN THE COMPANY OF people. There's certain classes of game that I'd do one, but not the other (such as survival horror - I have no urge to play a multiplayer survival horror, but they can be a lot of fun with one person playing and others watching. And vice versa - I like MMOGs, but don't really enjoy people watching me play.)

Thanks for the feedback here!

Patrick: this is absolutely not a fair cross section, being only those people who took the DGD1 test either linked from here or from the ihobo site. We took no steps to get data from outside of the core audience (as we did with the data that led to the DGD1 model) and I fully expect that it is quite skewed in many ways.

Mory: I take your point on Adventures; I forget that people do tend to play them this way. :)

In respect of Lego Star Wars, well, genre terms are extremely 'soft' but I share Duncan's general tendency to put Lego Star Wars into this general area; perhaps 'Platform Shooter' like Contra? (Action Game is so broad an umbrella term that it doesn't provide much identification by itself).

Your suggestion that the Platform Games cluster is skewed by Platform Adventures is supported by the data but not in the way you suggest - the Platform Adventure cluster peaks at 69.6% (close to the average), whereas 2D Platform Games is 33% for instance. It's certainly curious.

Duncan: you support Mory's position on Adventures, and again, I have to agree with your reasoning. And your account of platform games appears to be supported by the data (especially in regard of 2D platformers).

"I would challenge you to name five good platform games that have comprehensive and fun co-op play"

This seems unfair - I would struggle to name five games in *any* genre that fulfill this remit! :) But Platform Shooters like Contra and its clones spring to mind as one example inside Platform Games.

I agree with your take on complexity issues in Platform and Puzzle games; the essence of a strong puzzle game is in its elegance, after all.

Greg: As you say, the survey took favourite game names - we sorted them into Genre categories, and these categories should be treated simply as a convenience for examining the data, as mentioned in the disclaimer. I am less interested in which other games might fit the term "City-based Driving Game" (although I take your point, above) and more interested in alternative names for the genre that one would place GTA into. :) A 'Free-roaming driving game', you seem to suggest? (I might be inclined to say a 'Playground Driving Game' were I making a new genre template).

Your criticisms of questions 6, 10 and 12 are fair. I think question 6 is best taken, as you suggest, as a test of whether dynamic difficulty is acceptible or desired. The reason? In the DGD1 survey, a common theme in the Type 2 group was not wanting the game to be too easy, but not wanting to struggle against a game that was too hard (whereas the Type 1 group would crack at any challenge).

In regard of Q12, I would like us to explore different forms of 'playing with people' more explicitely in our future research, as there are (as you allude to here) marked differences between playing online, playing co-op, playing versus, pad passing and kibbutzing.


Thanks for the comments everyone!

We will be constructing a new survey over the next month or so; I will probably air the questions on the blog first to get some feedback. The next one will be more generalised - i.e. we are going fishing. We will also be pushing it out in front of a broader cross section, with luck.

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