(I wanted to make this a comment first, but it got too long, and in some way, it merits its own post. Definitely as much as Steam advertisement does…)
Nils is a very thankful target these days (sorry Nils!). First he spearheads the anti-panda movement, now he tells us definitions are bad. (I’m half-joking. Only half, but definitely a bit.) Specifically, that “casual” and “hardcore” are better left undefined.
I’m genuinely surprised. Nils studied, among other things, mathematics. In mathematics, definitions are immensely important. It doesn’t really matter how you define something as long as you do define it, preferably concisely and consistently. (One of my eye-openers was when I sat in two basic lectures, and one defined the natural numbers as including 0, one didn’t… but it was consistent within the scope of what they did.) But even the “lesser” sciences need concise definitions. Max Weber‘s most lasting legacy was his body of definitions that helped to give sociology a foundation of basic terms that was used and widely accepted by many important researchers after him.
Without definitions, there is no way to discuss properly. If we discuss about “huduhadugugu”, and to me it means “the feeling of despair over the cruelty of the world”, but to my discussion partner it means “the feeling after eating 72 chicken wings”, we will not be very productive. And if you look at the factors that can play into the terms “casual” and “hardcore”, they don’t seem to be much more specific that “huduhadugugu”.
Originally, at this point in the post, I wanted to lay out some ideas of dimensions that could create a possibility space for casual–hardcore. For example, the original Bartle types use two dimensions, acting–interacting and player–environment, with a later added third dimension of implicit–explicit, which gave you four or eight types. (The first four are the well-known explorer, socialiser, achiever, and killer). Some ideas for spanning the casual–hardcore space were time commitment and state of mind (as in serious–flippant) during play. However, I stumbled across Incobalt at Tobold’s blog, an his list of related work ground my efforts to a halt, at least for now. He reminded me that you should always be aware of what other people do before you start with something that will take longer than a couple of hours. As I could have imagined myself, there has been a lot of work in the field of definitions and categorizations. Research didn’t stop after Bartle published Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades. Because I’m too dense to figure out how to link to a specific comment on blogger, I’ll just quote Incobalt’s great comment in (almost) full:
In 21st Century Game Design, Bateman and Boon use Myers-Briggs typology to define four player types, which were each broken into hardcore and casual (The DGD1 model, though there has been a DGD2 model and the newer BrainHex model). See also http://blog.ihobo.com/ (Chris Bateman’s company related to his research).
In Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences (eds. Varderer and Bryant), Sherry, Lucas and Greenberg used the Uses and Gratifications model to show player motivation (“Video game uses and gratifications as predictors of use and game preference”).
Kallio, Pauliina, Mayra and Kaipainen looked at why players play games and found three groups (each with three subgroups): social players, casual players and committed players. They found this using surveys and cluster analysis. (“At least nine ways to play: Approaching gamer mentalities.” In Games and Culture Volume 6, Issue 4)
So there is work being done, but a *lot* of it is based on the original four Bartle types (and ignoring Bartle’s later work), as well as examining how players play existing games (which exclude a lot of personality styles).
I realize this is a bit off topic from the original post, but I would say that, if you’re going to use Bartle types, perhaps try taking a peak at other kinds of typing, or Bartle’s work after “Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, Clubs: Players Who Suit MUDs” (specifically, Bartle’s Designing Virtual Worlds, and his chapter in Bateman’s Beyond Game Design). there may be newer, better insight in them.
(In case you’re wondering, the original post didn’t have links either. However, most of the stuff should be easy to find, though good luck getting the full texts if you don’t work/study at a university.) It seems I have some reading to do. Might as well add another field of science to my portfolio of areas in which I’m up to the rank of dilettante.
- You see how many efforts there have been to define terms and categories in different areas of game-related science. That’s for a reason. Definitions are the foundation of good research.
- Thank you Incobalt for some nice related work!
- Maybe there is a reason that Bartle types are considered lacking in some respects when it comes to describing social interactions and the micro-sociology of MMOs. Bartle made it very clear his results are only applicable to virtual worlds (see also his talk at Multi.Player’11). Maybe we have problems with Bartle types in WoW, or what we call “themepark MMOs” because they’re not virtual worlds any more, but “just” games?