4 Types Of Gamers And Learner Engagement

4 Types Of Gamers And Learner Engagement
Summary: So, you've invested in a gamified learning platform, your learners have become gamers, and you need to adapt your training approach. Bartle's taxonomy of player types provides a handy way to look at the different motivations that drive engagement on gamified systems.

The Correlation Between All Types Of Gamers And Learner Engagement

When you leave those traditional learning models behind and embark on your gamified learning odyssey, you’ll find new ways of engaging learners that you’d never even considered before. Instructional Designers will know how to cater for different learning styles, but in a gamified solution, they also need to consider types of game player.

What they need is a framework that outlines these different approaches to gaming and the motivations behind them. Although many such frameworks have been proposed, we’re going to look at one of the first, which is the Bartle's taxonomy of player types [1].

In the 1990s, Dr Richard Bartle outlined 4 basic types of game players . These are the Achievers, the Socializers, the Explorers and the Killers. In his framework, he describes how they interact with the game and with each other. We’re going to look at these 4 types of game players, and show you how to design gamified learning experiences for each one of them.

1. Achievers

Achievers: win, challenge, create, show off, compare

The most defining feature of a game is arguably the ability to win or lose. We may play games for the simple enjoyment of the experience, but in our heart of hearts, we want to win! Achievers feel this urge more keenly than others. They want to rise to the challenge and beat the game.

It’s not enough to simply win, however. Achievers want to share their successes with everyone. If other people can’t gape with awe at their vast collection of trophies, Achievers might just lose the motivation to continue.

Gamified Learning For Achievers

The thirst for challenge is the main driver for Achievers. You need to ensure that there are enough challenges to satisfy them, and that they get more difficult as the player progresses. In this case, a microlearning approach is ideal, as it lets you break your content down into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

On a gamified Learning Management System, more content can mean only one thing: more badges! Gamified learning platforms should make it easy to create badges and assign them to learning objectives. There’s nothing holding you back from creating a massive badge cabinet that’ll keep your Achievers returning.

Finally, give them a chance to show off their badges. The best way to do this is to display their badge collection on their profile page, letting other Achievers easily find out what their own collection is missing.

2. Explorers

Explorers: explore, rate, review, vote, curate

Where Achievers have a results-oriented mindset, Explorers prefer the process. They are naturally curious people, and this curiosity is your secret weapon when it comes to engaging them. They arrive in the uncharted territory of the learning platform with the desire to turn over every stone and discover every secret.

For explorers, there is no such thing as 'failure' but only discovery. Every time they stumble on their journey, they make a mental note to avoid the same mistake in the future. Many explorers will also assume the role of a cartographer, mapping the land for anyone who follows in their footsteps.

Gamified Learning For Explorers

Most of the Explorers using your Learning Management System will be happy to privately browse the content at their own pace. It’s up to you to build an exciting journey for them, full of twists and turns. This is why it’s important to create an overarching narrative for the training and contextualize the content for your learners. This lets you craft an experience that reinforces the Epic Meaning behind everything your learners accomplish.

As the self-appointed map-makers on your platform, Explorers are your content curators, and they might even unveil themselves as Subject Matter Experts. Give them the tools they need to leave notes and signposts for those that follow them. Rating and reviewing functionality lets them suggest edits, point to additional content and flag up anything they found particularly useful. As a training manager, these Explorers can give you something you’ve never had before, and that is an idea of whether your learners actually find the content useful.

3. Socializers

Socializers: help, share, comment, gift, greet

Achievers and Explorers mainly play games for their own pleasure, but social interaction plays a huge part gaming culture. From the earliest team sports to today’s thriving online multiplayer games market, it’s clear that gaming isn’t supposed to be a solitary affair.

Gamers will persevere for hours, until their thumbs cramp up, trying to complete a puzzle or beat a tricky boss. When they’ve tried everything they can think of, they turn to their fellow gamers for help. In this case, Socializers are happy to come to the rescue.

Meanwhile, when they have nobody to help, Socializers will happily congratulate other gamers on their successes, share their opinions, and perhaps even spark the odd heated discussion.

Gamified Learning For Socializers

The internet has offered countless ways to collaborate and share ideas. Social functionality is so ubiquitous that you can’t afford not to include it in your training. Social features only compound the benefits of the game mechanics, letting learners share their successes with each other.

Socializers can help transform your platform from a mere eLearning library into an online informal learning community. They are keen to share their knowledge and it’s up to you to make it as easy as possible to do so. A news feed on the dashboard is just perfect for giving every user an overview of activity on the platform. Other features like discussion groups let these Socializers focus on the topics they’re most interested in. If you’re really lucky, they might just form the backbone of your organizational knowledge.

4. Killers

Killers: harass, hack, cheat, heckle, troll

Killers can be a disruptive force in a game. They’ll try every underhanded trick in the book just to get ahead of their competitors. In the world of gaming, this can range from playful teasing to all-out name-calling. On the whole, Killers see only one goal –victory at all costs– and they don’t care who they have to trample to get there.

There aren’t many positive things you can say about Killers, but you need to admire the ingenious hacks and workarounds they come up with. Thinking outside the box in this way is something to be encouraged. The question is how do you hack the hackers and turn their cutthroat compulsions into a force for good?

Gamified Learning For Killers

Training managers can, on this occasion, breathe a sigh of relief. Due to the corporate nature of eLearning Management System, nobody would risk an encounter with HR just for the sake of another badge. In my experience with gamified learning, I’ve yet to see a single learner step too far into Killer territory.

That said, everybody has a trace of the Killer within them. There’s a little part of all of us that takes an embarrassing amount of pleasure in beating an opponent. Leaderboards let you tap into that dark aspect of human nature and turn it into an advantage. Placing the leaderboard on the dashboard lets everyone see who’s leading the pack and what needs to be done to overtake them.

Final Words

It’s rare to encounter a gamer who fits neatly into one type. Most game players will display attributes of all 4 types to a greater or lesser degree. The important thing is to recognize that gamers are motivated in different ways than mere learners. With a gamified learning platform, the traditional approach to training isn’t enough. You need to understand what makes gamers tick and apply these motivations to your learning initiatives. If you can do that successfully, everybody is a winner!



  1. Personality And Play Styles: A Unified Model
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