The lifecycles of a player

 Posted by (Visited 44683 times)  Game talk
Jun 162006
 

A while ago, a poster in the comments thread asked what I thought the lifecycles of players were. I don’t think there is only one lifecycle, is all. I know of several models that have stood up over time, so here they are, briefly described.

Randy Farmer’s Path To Ascension

This one comes from The Social Dimensions of Habitat’s Citizenry.

The entire point of any thriving community is people. Habitat is an interactive environment where people define the parameters of their experience. Thus it is important to understand how people behave in these cyberspaces. In Habitat I observed five distinct patterns of usage and social commitment:

  • The Passives [“they want effortless entertainment”; 75% of the userbase]
  • The Actives [committed regular users]
  • The Motivators [“They throw parties, start institutions, open businesses, run for office, start moral debates, become outlaws, and win contests.”]
  • The Caretakers [“They help the new players, mediate interpersonal conflicts, record bugs, suggest improvements, run their own contests, officiate at functions, and in general keep things running smoothly.”]
  • The Geek Gods [admins]

(Annotations mine).

In the Path to Ascension, Randy basically posits that people need to be encouraged to move up the ladder. In my experience, rarely do we see someone who is successful at being a Geek God without having gone through the other stages.

So that’s one path of development, taken from a fairly social-centric world.

Hedron’s Circles

A while back, a UO player named Hedron posted a whole bunch of intriguing design articles. One of them was a postulate he called “Circles” describing the growth of achievement-oriented players. It makes an interesting contrast with Randy’s path.

  • First Circle players are newbies who just want to survive.
  • Second Circle players are competent, and start to feel like the game is “fun.”
  • Third Circle players are excelling. They’re also often cheating, as they take on the tough stuff.
  • Fourth Circle players are about proving their mastery by either killing other players or mentoring them.
  • Fifth Circle players are “done.” They need new challenges, which they might get by an alt, RP, moving to forums, guild play, a whole new game…
  • Sixth Circle players are enlightened Zen beings that understand everything and every mode of play and blend them seamlessly.

You may notice that this approach has some real commonalities with A Theory of Fun. Circle One is about seeing the patterns as noise; Circles 2 and 3 are about recognizing the patterns, and even arriving at means to bypass them in exactly the way I describe in the book. Circle 4 is about exercising mastery, Circlce 5 seeks new challenges, and Circle 6 is grokking the pattern completely.

Bartle Types

Both the above are referenced by the lifecycle that Richard Bartle described in his book Designing Virtual Worlds. In this, Dr. Bartle presents an expansion of his player types grid, converting it into a cube. He also identifies some trajectories through the types, which encompass to some degree the above two models.

His initial pass at a progression, with four types, described what he called the “main sequence.” It ran thusly:

  1. Killer
  2. Explorer
  3. Achiever
  4. Socializer

So players start out testing boundaries, then learn more about their environment, then play the game, then end up staying for their friends.

His more complex path through all the types can be seen here in this quickie photo (I didn’t take the time to scan it or reconstruct it, and it will only make sense if you are familiar with his expanded player type model): Edit: Morgan supplied the diagram I was too lazy to make!

Bartle player lifecycle picture

My observations

I’m going to offer up just a few points built mostly on anecdotal evidence as regards these models.

First, that Achiever to Killer is a very common path. Once the game’s opponents are no longer interesting, being limited by crude AI, actual other players offer a better challenge. A lot of people never want to take this step, and it’s arguable that they are driven not only by the fact that they dislike PvP, but also by the fact that they are statistically certain to lose most of the time.

Second, that in many ways, we are all heading for a Socialization Destination. Everyone gets bored of a given virtual world (again, cf. Theory of Fun). They then hang out there only because it’s where their friends are. The games in these worlds are like the beer at a bar, the rides at a carnival. They are diversions, and the point for most ends up being the other people.

Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play.

  120 Responses to “The lifecycles of a player”

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  2. and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play.Link (via Wonderland) [IMG]

  3. and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play.Link (via Wonderland) [IMG] Permalink Comments

  4. and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play.Link (via Wonderland) [IMG] Link

  5. and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play.Link (via Wonderland) [IMG]

  6. and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play.Link (via Wonderland) [IMG]

  7. Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player

  8. are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life”read more | digg story

  9. Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player

  10. The lifecycles of a player on Raph Koster’s Website. Thanks Mike Martinez.

  11. Multiplayer game designer Raph Koster offers some observations on the Lifecycles of a Gamer: In many ways, we are all heading for a Socialization Destination. Everyone gets bored of a given virtual world. They then hang out there only because it’s where their friends are. The games in these worlds are like the beer at a bar, the rides

  12. Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player

  13. Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player Useful, brilliant, insightful.

  14. anyone will come with. Remember the point is to drink while it’s light out. Jordie out stuff: -chinese government to release 30,000 hours of music digitally to world pitchfork -finished this it took about half an hour vectorpark -life cycles of a gamerraphkoster

  15. within carefully limited circumstances; most people cannot draw, but anyone can color inside lines, or trace. If the games require serious commitment and challenging creation tasks equivalent to drawing from scratch, they will have smaller audiences.” The lifecycles of a player: “A while ago, a poster in the comments thread asked what I thought the lifecycles of players were. I don’t think there is only one lifecycle, is all. I know of several models that have stood up over time, so here they are, briefly described.”

  16. I like the circles. They resonate most clearly with what I’ve seen.

    One thing I’d suggest is that the degree to which aggressive play like PvP correlates with personality depends a lot on the game. If a society feels suffocatingly calm and social to a player, they may well just go kill someone in what is partly an attempt to stir up some activity. But a place like WoW can pop into a battleground and kill people for 20 minutes, there’s no disruptive component. Thus it’s probably very difficult to disentangle statistically what kinds of people do what where.

    Ancedotally I can say that a stunning number of women I’ve played with over the years have found PvP to be exceedingly liberating, become very good at it, and are often among the most bloodthirsty players in the group.

  17. Have there been any studies into what might happen with Hedron’s circles, or your levels of pattern recognition, in a world where the pattern changes so significantly, often enough, that people aren’t able to ever fully master it? Would this be more of a detriment to the community, or would players adapt and possibly avoid the rest of the game in favor of just socializing?

  18. No studies that I know of. But these two cases have been made:

    1. That too many frequent changes leave the player confused and more likely to quit, particularly if their investment in the game is destroyed.

    2. That frequent changes keep the game fresh, resulting in longer player lifespan.

    I can see both being true, actually, depending on how invested the character is, and on where they were in their own Circle advancement.

  19. Well, while we’re analyzing player masses, I’ll toss this in the ring for a slightly different angle:
    DAVYN’S ROLEPLAY SCALE

    This was an observational article I wrote about three years back after having built three 1000+ member RP communities (Collective of Old Fennin – EQ, OTLC / Division 9 – AO, Vagabond’s Rest – SWG). Please note that the pretty chart is in no way based on actual numbers, but is simply a visual representation of my previous perception of where the mass of players were. It’s likely very different now.

    All that said, I still think my general categories of how players relate (and progress) through the art of roleplaying are still fairly sound.

  20. […] Comments […]

  21. “1. That too many frequent changes leave the player confused and more likely to quit, particularly if their investment in the game is destroyed.

    2. That frequent changes keep the game fresh, resulting in longer player lifespan.”

    I think this is spot on. The different player MO’s are interesting. Im just wondering how “frequent changes” are defined? Are these game mechanic changes? content additions? It seems to me that (at least as a player)frequently changing rule sets lead to #1 where frequently changing content especially where there is room for “discovery” leads to #2

    Also Im wondering is there a schedule usually projected out for change? say: “In Q3 of year 2 after release we’ll be on expansion #2” or rather is it subjective say: “Hey I think people are getting bored, maybe we should work up some ideas for a new expansion”

    Im finding every day that the game industry as a whole is not only idosyncratic, and quirky, but strangly does not follow and type of standardized business model….heheh one begins to wonder if a higher caliber of organization and strategy leads to better games?

  22. Regarding frequent changes, my basic thought is players can accept changes if they have some choice in the change.

    I’m thinking of expansions for an mmorpg or add on mods for Oblivion for example. You are able in these cases to control what changes are made. There are, oddly, to me many people who complain about expansions and mods and they needn’t buy them at all…so where is the threat? I’ve actually thought about this a good deal lately playing Oblivion. There it is, this wide open world with so many things to do, and once you buy it, noone can ever sweep in and change it from the ground up on you. The world remains, if you wish, always the one you bought and entered looking for adventures. It makes single player games once again much more interesting in a way than mmorpgs, just for the security of the world. Childish but there it is. Noone dares move my Khajiits cheese!

    As I look at upcoming mmorpgs, I am now very wary as I read developers thoughts and comments. It is important to me, before I commit to entering their world, to know that they are comfortable themselves with the world they are making, and have a set plan for the future.

  23. A few months back, I tried a different approach, though of course with far less expertise, and with mixed impressions 🙂

    1. That too many frequent changes leave the player confused and more likely to quit, particularly if their investment in the game is destroyed.

    2. That frequent changes keep the game fresh, resulting in longer player lifespan.

    That’s a great breakdown on the type of change. If a game has fans, they want variations on a theme and toys, in my opinion. If the game needs new fans, the game needs something radical enough to potentially alienate some of its strongest proponents, who by nature are pretty conservative about deep changes (because they like what’s there already).

  24. It hasn’t really stood up over time, I guess, but you didn’t include Bartle’s mapping of the player progression onto Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Also not sure how to describe it briefly… I’ve tried, before, and never really got a solid grip on how to do it.

    Roughly speaking the Departure is when the player begins to play, Initiation is when the player is immersed, gets better at playing (effectively going through the circles), and the Return is when the player is no longer *cough* addicted. =P He also throws in Campbell’s idea of getting something out of the journey.

  25. Is the basic point of all the cycles of player life theorizing that people will just come in, play then move on to something else no matter what you do? Except for those “conservative” types who won’t budge? Are you arguing then that games should always change, sometimes drastically, in order to keep the player base moving?

    If so, then the future is in mmo’s rather than mmorpg’s because a “virtual world” where you can have both community and a “virtual life” with home and economy and cities etc. is stagnant and counterproductive to the herding through of fresh people who will have nothing invested in the game world and who will accept any changes as a “new shiny”.

    God forbid anyone should buy a Corvette of a game and go out in their garage one morning to find it replaced with a Harley equipped with rocket launchers and have the nerve to say hey…wait a minute here. Coffee talking. 🙂

  26. I just have to say that Hedron’s Circles sounds alot like The Inferno by Dante Alighieri. I was just wondering of there was any influence there.

    -JcMaverick-

  27. I agree, Athela.
    Look, you can make important changes ala restart and piss off half a good deal of your players, and make some happy. Or you can add things that are exciting without changing the basics and make everyone happy, or at worst not piss off many customers.

    I hated all the changes in UO over the years for this reason also. Instead of adding Mondain’s bones leading an army on a march towards Castle British, they altered combat to extremes, changing the face of it to new unbalances and new problems. They never built tools for event mods to use to be able to add interesting game play, they never developed the idea’s Raph has recently put forwards, they never developed community, they never developed AI, they never enhanced art (much), so much they never did. Yet they went from worthless archers to god shooters, tamers to dragon rulers, bards to control freaks, etc. etc. Much of what they’ve changed has ruined aspects of the game that were very appealing, such as the current item based game that has all but destroyed trade skills except for the top tier powergamers. On the plus side, it’s not hard at all now to find a lot to place a house.

  28. JcMaverick, I edited your email address out of your post so that it wouldn’t get harvested by some bot and spammed…

  29. I think that some of the lifecycles refer what happens to a player in just one game, as well as to a player in one genre, or their lifetime experience as a player.

    But yes: you can’t retain a player forever. It just doesn’t happen. Those that do stay around in a pseudo-forever (Bartle refers to it as “Master of Two Worlds” in his Hero’s Journey analogy; the hero, in this case the player, transits between the real and the fantastic without hindrance, having “mastered” the fantastic; alas, Campbell’s book was not one I brought back to SJ with me, so I can’t reference directly) are so rare that you can’t build a business model on them. In the end, failing to anticipate churn may very well ruin an otherwise good game.

    Under Raph’s theory, players grow out of the lessons offered by a game; in order to continue to interest them, either they will make up new ones (metagaming, cheating, sometimes griefing), stay for other reasons (socialization, community, anticipation of changes), or you have to provide them with a change in the game (expansion packs, patches, content additions). My personal stance is to use well-designed PvP to give them something to do, to cut GM-controlled story from it, because it gets in the way, and let things grow by themselves, spending admin time on pruning and cultivation.

  30. Sounds pretty reasonable…I liked Bartle’s player lifecycles when I read them in Designing Virtual Worlds. I think the anecdotal evidence makes a lot of sense.

    I’ll have to agree with the Achiever–>Killer path that is incredibly prevalent in World of Warcraft. Players level to 60, then realize they want to PvP…But it might be because there’s nothing else to do as well =).

    My experience seems to have been something more like Explorer–>Killer–>Achiever–>Socializer…

    I got in and just wanted to know what the world was like and what was possible…Then after I had looked around some I got comfortable and started to grief some. Then I grew up and finally got patient enough to try to get some level/kit…and finally I really just liked playing with friends, and the game was just a diversion as Theory of Fun suggests.

  31. Some random thoughts:

    (Raph’s player lifecyle) + (If players spend less time in each MMORPG that they play, since all the MMORPGs practically the same) =

    1) You’d expect to see MMORPG subscriptions get more “bursty” as everyone tries the new game, gets bored of it in 2 months, and goes on to the next new thing. (This effect is offset by new players that have never played MMORPGs before.)

    1a) The burstiness encourages guilds to form social structures outside the game, such as their own BBS and chat rooms (or voice chat). Thus, guild members can socialize no mater what game they’re playing. => “Social ties” don’t lock players into a game as strongly as they once did. (Is this true?)

    2) Those that get permanently bored will (a) stop playing altogether, (b) go directly to PvP in something like Halo2 or a PvP-specific MMORPG (Eve online), or (c) go directly to a free chat room.

    3) It all leads back to innovation and pushing the envelope so that (a) and (c) players come back.

  32. (Is this true?)

    I’ve heard that story since post-EQ, of entire guilds uprooting into new ones. I’ve had friends of friends drop out of games to play WoW (and coming back, too). Guilds have stronger and stronger context-less structure. It doesn’t help that game culture is, as a norm, a chat about the next game: gamers are generally used to changing games every so often. They likely expect roughly the same from MMORPGs: it’ll be old news in a few years.

  33. Is this true?

    Yes. One guild I was a part of that started in EQ and moved elsewhere I joined in City of Heroes. City Of Heroes branch died the day World of Warcraft opened and we had our guild charter there signed in hours of getting thru the queue. I’d say we do see people getting easier and easier to uproot again once they start, looking for the new shiny instead of digging in looking for hidden gold, much the same way the high divorce rate isn’t nearly as bad if you just look at people who only get married the one time.

  34. […] Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play. Link (via Wonderland) […]

  35. Players are also human beings. Think Kohlberg. To think that one has captured somthing about human beings in general through an analysis of how they interact or don’t in MMORPG’s is both true and false. At about the ‘level’ of motivators, one might realize that this is merely a proxy for real life, including the bad, and decide to do something about why one escapes into a virtual world every night. On the other hand, why is it that one needs to escape into such a world. Surely, if the real world were better, as it certainly could be, and one thought he/she could do something about it, one would spend her/his energy changing the world. So, where is this going bad? I certainly engage in my own escapism with MMORPG’s or I wouldn’t be posting. So…

  36. […] https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-lifecycles-of-a-player/ Found this post that has some fairly interesting points about people at the new stage of a game through to the stage where they are only there because friend are still there. Some of it is quite relevant to our group and the online games we play. […]

  37. […] Raph’s Website � The lifecycles of a player # First Circle players are newbies who just want to survive. # Second Circle players are competent, and start to feel like the game is “fun.” # Third Circle players are excelling. They’re also often cheating, as they take on the tough stuff. # Fourth Circle players are about proving their mastery by either killing other players or mentoring them. # Fifth Circle players are “done.” They need new challenges, which they might get by an alt, RP, moving to forums, guild play, a whole new game… # Sixth Circle players are enlightened Zen beings that understand everything and every mode of play and blend them seamlessly. […]

  38. […] Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play. Link (via Wonderland) […]

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  40. […] https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-l…es-of-a-player/QUOTE First, that Achiever to Killer is a very common path. Once the games opponents are no longer interesting, being limited by crude AI, actual other players offer a better challenge. A lot of people never want to take this step, and its arguable that they are driven not only by the fact that they dislike PvP, but also by the fact that they are statistically certain to lose most of the time.Second, that in many ways, we are all heading for a Socialization Destination. Everyone gets bored of a given virtual world (again, cf. Theory of Fun). They then hang out there only because its where their friends are. The games in these worlds are like the beer at a bar, the rides at a carnival. They are diversions, and the point for most ends up being the other people.Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play. QUOTE Third stage: I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like Creslin? :blink: […]

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  42. “Is this true?”
    Good examples given, I’ll provide insight into how a so called large (not sure of the academic term used “mega” or “meta” guild?) guild works, in my experiance. And I mean by large approximately 250 actives across say 3-5 games at any one time. You can almost see overtly the actual lifecycles taking place on the guild forums. As a group experiance no less.

    The guild strucutre is loosly made up of casual mature gamers with a PVP centric bent (but PVE power gaming to the point of transition from player => killer) this guilds been around since M59, and has been in every major MMORPG since. As I said often crossing multiple games as either partial “migration” or full fledged abandonment of a game takes place.
    We have beta tester forums, we have any number of members testing any number of games, many times multiple games at the same time, we report on our progress and likes/dislikes of each game, without breaking NDA, this subsequently influences our game migration as a whole. Usually we coordinate our efforts on a games launch to dominate not only the economy, PVE and rapidly get to the point of PVP dominance. This gets detailed to the point of choosing the server, choosing the start location, and listing the classes/skills everyone is going after. Example: guid size was 300 people the 1st month after WOW was released (we picked up players we knew from other games, (i.e. they trusted and knew our guild tag), and beta testers that had met our beta testers etc). Current Example: Guild size diminished, serious discussion going on about next migration. This is a power gaming guild, many of whom have known each other for 10+ years. We communicate regularly/daily via forums, vent, phone, IM etc.

    Perhaps disregarding the current toolsets available to guilds like this (who often coordinate as many of them have cross membership) is perhaps a recipe for disaster. Say a 250 members x say 3 years of active subscription
    recipe.

    “If so, then the future is in mmo’s rather than mmorpg’s because a “virtual world” where you can have both community and a “virtual life” with home and economy and cities etc. is stagnant and counterproductive to the herding through of fresh people who will have nothing invested in the game world and who will accept any changes as a “new shiny”. ”

    This guilds response to having a virtual world with no community, no home, no economy, no cities, no effect of pvp on the wolrd at large (DAOC vs WOW), frequent changes, where your investment is negated……is massive migration….which usually influences other guilds of the same size and leads to posts such as “What game did you guys move to?”….so its an exponential effect.

    Its the differance between retaining customers in the long term vs opting for higher churn. It must be really hard to balance the barriers to entry for newer players in a game where retianing long term customers is the goal. As thiers a whole competition of new vs established players…

    Just some observations r/t is it true…..

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  44. […] Interesting read.Never presume a man does not have ninjas at his disposal…. […]

  45. […] 총 15개  |  최종업데이트: 2006-06-19 02:34 function PrevPage(goto_bottom) { } function NextPage(goto_top) { } ANIMATED GIF MASHUP! 2006-06-19 02:34 작성 ANIMATED GIF MASHUP! (42) Useless Facts 2006-06-19 02:34 작성 Useless Facts (20) The lifecycles of a player 2006-06-19 02:34 작성 The lifecycles of a player (15) BlogsMujer 2006-06-19 02:34 작성 BlogsMujer (15) Struts Tips – Scaffolding – Husted dot Com 2006-06-19 02:34 작성 Struts Tips – Scaffolding – Husted dot Com (14) T-Online Reiseportal 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 T-Online Reiseportal (33) Yahoo! Reisen 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 Yahoo! Reisen (22) Videws: Cool Videos Better News 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 Videws: Cool Videos Better News (15) 無題 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 無題 (14) はてぶリーダー 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 はてぶリーダー (14) change default ssh port osx 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 change default ssh port osx (14) Knowing.NET – 15 Exercises to Know A Programming Language: Part 1 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 Knowing.NET – 15 Exercises to Know A Programming Language: Part 1 (13) 【レビュー】最強の毛筆シミュレーションソフト現る? MoXiレビュー (1) 東洋の画材、毛筆をデジタルで再現することができる? (MYCOMジャーナル) 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 【レビュー】最強の毛筆シミュレーションソフト現る? MoXiレビュー (1) 東洋の画材、毛筆をデジタルで再現することができる? (MYCOMジャーナル) (13) pyISBNdb 2006-06-19 01:17 작성 pyISBNdb (13) How to make anything look like a toy 2006-06-18 23:48 작성 How to make anything look like a toy (31) document.title = ‘한RSS – Populicious. New popular sites (24h).’; […]

  46. […] only slightly related, but thought you guys might be interested in this: https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16…s-of-a-player/ __________________ Made in Borders […]

  47. “If so, then the future is in mmo’s rather than mmorpg’s because a “virtual world” where you can have both community and a “virtual life” with home and economy and cities etc. is stagnant and counterproductive to the herding through of fresh people who will have nothing invested in the game world and who will accept any changes as a “new shiny”. “

    This guilds response to having a virtual world with no community, no home, no economy, no cities, no effect of pvp on the wolrd at large (DAOC vs WOW), frequent changes, where your investment is negated……is massive migration….which usually influences other guilds of the same size and leads to posts such as “What game did you guys move to?”….so its an exponential effect.

    That assumes that the virtual world doesn’t have multiple whole games embedded in it. I mean, like, adding a whole EQ or WoW or CoH or whatever every once in a while.

  48. […] New popular sites (Just new in last 24h). Info New Sites (24h) New Sites (48h) New Sites (1 Week) New Sites (1 Month) All time popular Top TLDs PosPageTotal 1South Park Videos373 2IntelliAdmin.Com: Remotely Enable Remote Desktop309 3Directory Listing of /ch/Calvin and Hobbes complete/190 4Monetize148 5rendr82 6Boing Boing: Psychology of bad probability estimation: why lottos and terrori …69  How to make anything look like a toy  8Scientology is not Science63 9Two-Stroke Motion55 10ANIMATED GIF MASHUP!42 11Dark Reading – Host security – Researchers Find Technique to Quickly Erase Ha …35  Useless Facts  13UT SCIENTIST: DOG NEURONS IN A DISH CONTROL GAME33  T-Online Reiseportal  15CollegeHumor Movie: Ever wonder what happens when you dump a bucket of liquid …32  Jargon Dictionary  17On Off and Beyond: すばらしい英語勉強法30 18Pete H’s Homemade Air Conditioner27 19はてぶリーダー23 20IE UL link whitespace bug fixed22  Yahoo! Reisen  22AlphaImageLoader Filter21 23Sat-nav dunks dozy drivers in deep water – Britain – Times Online20 24The Urban Archipelago, It’s the Cities, Stupid., by The Editors of The Strang …19 25Energy lab to run petascale computer18  InformationWeek | PC Maintenance | How To Remotely Monitor Memory Usage | Jun …   Nick Vautier   Overcoming Procrastination/Introduction – Wikibooks, collection of open-conte …   macosxhints.com – 10.4: Allow Location changes to trigger other events   HOW TO MAKE A HEAD PHONE  31Brain Explorer – Brain Atlas – Introduction17  Flash Image Replacement   無題   Videws: Cool Videos Better News  35The lifecycles of a player16  CyclocrossWorld   Characteristics of a software architect   Sam’s Wines & Spirits – The Wine And Spirits Leader   6月のはぶにっき – RailsやChuraのいけてないところ  40Light Speed!15  ONLamp.com — Diskless, Low-Form-Factor OpenBSD Systems   » Simple advice for securing your home wireless LAN | George Ou | TechRepubl …   6月のはぶにっき:DB設計手順   Catalog Site   GuruNet Reference Answer Engine   internet abc   Independent Online Edition > Health Medical   BlogsMujer  49HARIS PILTON | FREAK SINCE 1981 | DIARY14  Struts Tips – Scaffolding – Husted dot Com  […]

  49. […] Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play. Link (via Wonderland) […]

  50. I’m swerving a bit off-topic here, but…

    On the other hand, why is it that one needs to escape into such a world.

    There is a different depiction of Fantasy that is suggested in both Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” and Margaret Weis’ foreword to “Treasures of Fantasy”, where she says that there isn’t really much difference between a napalm strike on a village versus a dragon burning a village to ashes… but one is more beautiful. Campbell, as I interpret him, argues that the fantastic is a way of inculcating social beliefs in an acceptable way. You might find it silly to grow crops by a particular ritual, wherein you invoke this deity or that, but a scientific perspective rehashes it to show that these are times when you ought to, because that crop grows best in the spring, or whatnot.

    Raph talks about how play is a method of teaching lessons; myth is, too. In fact, what roleplaying really is is the synthesis of both of these: you playact a mythical character in order to particpate in that grand cosmic cycle.

  51. […] Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player […]

  52. Raph,

    In all your analyses – and they are always both illuminating and insightful – you seem to ignore the significant skew of your sample. You talk about how “players” behave, but what you are really talking about is how the niche subset of potential players who are drawn to the current crop of online games – which are remarkably alike and arguably quite narrow in their appeal in terms of their game type, genre, and playing dynamics – behave. You extrapolate, without sufficient evidence that I can discern, general “laws” about how humans in general play socially, and what their playing lifecycles are like.

    Some, like myself, would argue that the environment and architecture of current MMOs substantially affects behavior, just as environemnt and architecture (both in the physical and social sense) strongly affects social behavior in the “real” world. Thus, differently designed games that center around different social dynamics and player interaction might, in fact, manifest completely different player behaviors and lifecycles.

    If all one did was look at how people behave in collapsed-state, violence-torn, lawless war zones where everyone is armed and there is never enough of anything to go around, then one might reach a set of conclusions about social behavior quite different than if one observed stable, free, relatively peaceful and civilized societies. To extrapolate from the former about how all humans behave is flawed methodology. (there are numerous examples of how study of highly skewed populations (prisoners, or the mentally ill, or white middle-class males, for example) has led to incomplete or even utterly incorrect theories of psychology, sociology, group dynamics and social behavior).

    With all due respect, the population of current MMO players is certainly not representative of the general population of potential MMO players – not only demographically, but certainly psychographically. And the rather dismal view of what motivates, inspires and engages human beings might, in fact, be the highly skewed result of reading a highly skewed population.

    If you have addressed this issue in the past, I apologize for missing it; if you have, it might be more precise to qualify your blanket statements about player behavior. If you have not addressed it, why not?

  53. Heal your gaming woes with the gamer cycle of life!

    Raph Koster, game designer and theorist, wrote a little piece on what he calls the life cycle of gamers. He adds to his insight some other related gamer cycle models that illustrate the attitude an individual takes in a virtual world. You are bound to …

  54. Michael Chui said:
    Raph talks about how play is a method of teaching lessons; myth is, too. In fact, what roleplaying really is is the synthesis of both of these: you playact a mythical character in order to particpate in that grand cosmic cycle.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, I believe. But there’s another nail that’s simpler to see. That of the fact that after all we all have a bit of explorer in us. We all, or most of us, admire the lifestyle of those who go out into the world and do great things. The Laurence of Arabia’s, the Leif Eriksson’s, the Daniel Boone’s, the Lewis’s and Clarks’.
    We can’t get away to actually live that kind of life, nor do most of us really want to, for real. Computer games allow us to not only do so, but to do it safely, without extremes to planning and execution, and to be in our comfortable beds each evening instead of hanging from a cliff or marinating in a kettle on a fire in the deepest forested regions of other parts of the world.

    The Myth part is most important though. It helps to explain the reason why fantasy games do so much better than others like sci-fi. Fantasy, as in swords and dragons, goes farther than any other type in satisfying our inner desires to confront great evil, to discover things that can only be explained by “magic”, to play in a “simpler time” yet meet all those things that go bump in the night. On top of that, fantasy is very familiar to us. We all know orcs and goblins and dragons. Yet they are all diverse enough that we also know we don’t know exactly, so each realms version is still something that can be explored yet again.

  55. With all due respect, the population of current MMO players is certainly not representative of the general population of potential MMO players – not only demographically, but certainly psychographically. And the rather dismal view of what motivates, inspires and engages human beings might, in fact, be the highly skewed result of reading a highly skewed population.

    David, I couldn’t agree more. But when talking about phychology, I think there’s also more to the gamers currently playing. I strongly believe there’s a silent majority among gamers just as there is elsewhere. A majority who don’t argue politics, don’t argue religion, and don’t argue with PKers (as a simplistic example).

    Looking at the references shown so far, which I agree there’s little else to look at, we have a very old Habitat where one has to wonder how the demographics play out, and we have huge powergamer guilds. We also have exit polls, and I wonder if there’s any reference to what percentage exiting simply didn’t fill anything out. We have message boards, where mostly the same players post repeatedly, and shout down those who go against their grain (remember the silent majority here).

    It seems to me that those who are heard the most are those who are more aggressive, enough so that they spend their time knowing all the finer details of MMO’s, repeatedly involved in posting activity, and constantly look for betas to play.

    Are these people really representative of the general player? Just as you raise the question of would-be players, I think there should be a question about the general player populations, and if they are truelly represented.

  56. Galiel, it’s a perfectly valid point. But putting a caveat of “players in current online world populations” on every mention of the world “players” seems like overkill too. I think most people understand that we are going off of what data we have, and that therefore the models aren’t going to be all-encompassing.

    I did specifically say that the few observations I had (the three at the bottom) were built on purely anecdotal evidence. 🙂

    Once upon a time, the thought was that the only thing that the players wanted was to kill monsters and gather loot. With the additions of features like housing and crafting, we saw many more motives come into play. With the addition of robust economies, political systems, and so on, we saw yet more. I personally believe that online worlds can support basically every human motive there is, as long as the feature sets do.

    I do think there are certain underlying human psychological principles that apply to everyone. I’d suggest, for example, that desires for recognition and peer approval, for social contact, for dominance, and so on, are near-universal human characteristics — it’s a rare individual who isn’t motivated by these to some degree. Different emphasis for different people, naturally, and you cannot apply the generalization to any given individual.

  57. The Myth part is most important though.

    I don’t have a good resource for a broad understanding of myth and the monomyth theory; I read Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces” directly, and leafed through plenty of commentary on the subject. But it feels to me that your sense of the role of myth is different from mine (which was, admittedly, vague).

    It’s off-topic, and it got painfully long, so I put it in my own blog instead. “The Role of Myth“. It explains my ideas as best as I can manage… I’m not sure how well I pulled it off. *grins*

  58. […] Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play. Link (via Wonderland) […]

  59. […]  From:  renfield kuroda <[email protected]>         [ add to contacts ] To:  [email protected],  [email protected],  Lee Guzofski <[email protected]>,  Sven <[email protected]> Cc: Date: Sunday, June 18, 2006 03:40 am Subject: lifecycles of a playerhttps://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-lifecycles-of-a-player/  Text version of this message. (65B)     […]

  60. Statistically certain to lose most of the time? How does that work?

    Recently I started playing the excellent opensource game TA: Spring, a resurrection of Total Annihilation, one of the best RTS games ever made. I’ve never played Spring before but I’ve played TA since 1997. On Spring, I’ve had two losses out of maybe 40 games total. A statistical anomaly?

  61. […] The lifecycles of a player on Raph Koster The lifecycles of a player on Raph Koster Quote: […]

  62. Just think of the loss record that your win streak implies for other people. Yeah, you’re at the top end. The average player will have a losing win record.

    You can read more about this in my presentation on Small Worlds. Basically, it’s just an expression of the Pareto Principle.

  63. […] Posted document.write(”+ myTimeZone(‘Mon, 19 Jun 2006 12:37:38 GMT-0700’, ‘Mon June 19 2006 12:37’)+”); Mon June 19 2006 12:37 Interesting reading:https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-lifecycles-of-a-player/ […]

  64. […] "The lifecycles of a player" Raph Koster, ontwikkelaar bij SOE die betrokken is geweest bij spellen als Ultima Online en Star Wars Galaxies, heeft een interessant bericht geplaatst op zijn blog. Hij praat hierin over de "lifecycles of a player", de diverse fasen waar een speler doorheen gaat tijdens de periode dat hij of zij een MMO speelt. Lees dit bericht door hier te klikken. […]

  65. […] Multi-MMORPG update. Blizzard Patching 1.11 into World of Warcraft this week? Vanguard:Saga of Heroes has a new webpage dedicated towards new and upcoming features. Worthplaying.com says that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning might be "World of WarCraft: PVP Done Better." Guild Wars has hit the 2 million mark. Joystiq has commentary about the Star Wars Galaxies 3 year birthday. In the ever changing Everquest 2 Live Update 24 is around the corner with tradeskill changes. On the commentary side we have a piece from Raph Koster about MMORPG player lifecycles._________________[My gaming blog!]—[Staff, Grimwell Online] Favre – Undead Mage – Whisperwind – WoW Column – Ars Caelestis – EVE Online Heartless Foe – PvP – Guild Wars […]

  66. […] open beta.On the commentary side we have a piece from Raph Koster about MMORPG player lifecycles. [  # posted by Heartless_ @ 12:50 PM] [ 0 comments ] [ Post a Comment ] [ Home ] varsite=”sm9hgamer” […]

  67. […] I was also reminded of that talk. Raph also gave a great keynote at the Serious Game Summit at GDC ‘05. Raph has had a couple of good posts on game design lately, including The lifecycles of a player […]

  68. I prepared this post earlier, but the site appeared offline.

    Raph wrote:
    But putting a caveat of “players in current online world populations” on every mention of the world “players” seems like overkill too.

    The following is more of a follow-up response for everyone rather than a direct response to Raph.

    For that specific caveat, I agree; however, I think what is often forgotten is market segmentation. How are the various groups of "players" segmented? When we talk about "players", which "players" are we discussing? We need to understand customers. We need to identify MVP segments (i.e., customers that drive profits.) We need to align each function of game development, from design to support, to provide interactive entertainment solutions that are most effectively customized for those MVP segments. This means everyone throughout the pipeline needs to expand and formalize their vocabulary to segment the targeted markets in a manner that is practical for them.

    For example, if an MVP segment consisted of "upwardly mobile professional people", how would designers account for this segment in a way that satisfies, and perhaps surpasses, the requirements of this segment? Yes, in addition to marketers, designers also need to be familiar with market segmentation. Everyone in the pipeline needs to understand market segmentation and how market segmentation affects, or should affect, the grand vision of the product. At a purely functional level, this doesn’t make sense. Programmers just implement the design, right? Creatively speaking, no; programmers are just as involved as the designers in ensuring that development proceeds toward that grand vision.

    There’s a lot of talk about creating the best games possible. I see that line in many mission statements. This doesn’t mean much good if "best" means "best for us, the developers" because a) this attitude ultimately results in incrementalism and product cloning for so-called portfolio diversification; b) the idea of "best games possible" went out the window when developers stopped at their personal interests (e.g., "based on prior experiences, would I like to play this game?"); and c) the customers were ignored in favor of a much tinier market called "us". The interactive entertainment products we create, or help create, need to become customer-centric solutions. We can only further that transformation by effectively understanding customers, and applying the passion we have for "creating the best games possible" to creating the best games possible for customers.

  69. […] “Age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life”read more | digg story […]

  70. […] I was asked my opinion on a recent Raph Koster article, titled ‘The Lifecycles of a Player’. Raph touches on a few different theories, none of which should be new to anyone who has been a part of the industry for a significant time. I agree with just about everything Raph mentions. […]

  71. […] Damion Schubert wrote a blog entry about this pyramid, adapting it to MMO play specifically, and when looked at through squinted eyes, it has a lot in common with Randy Farmer’s Path to Ascension. The interesting thing about these models is that they assume that participation, that creation, that contribution, are in some way more to be valued. This is a deeply held assumption that I happen to share, but that often gets overlooked and not carefully examined. Why is “consuming” content such a dirty word? […]

  72. […] Interesting article. Here is an excerpt: Im going to offer up just a few points built mostly on anecdotal evidence as regards these models. First, that Achiever to Killer is a very common path. Once the games opponents are no longer interesting, being limited by crude AI, actual other players offer a better challenge. A lot of people never want to take this step, and its arguable that they are driven not only by the fact that they dislike PvP, but also by the fact that they are statistically certain to lose most of the time. Second, that in many ways, we are all heading for a Socialization Destination. Everyone gets bored of a given virtual world (again, cf. Theory of Fun). They then hang out there only because its where their friends are. The games in these worlds are like the beer at a bar, the rides at a carnival. They are diversions, and the point for most ends up being the other people. Third, that age, gender, and behavior are intimately related. Aggression is tightly linked with certain playstyles, including achievement. Anecdotally, many of the most aggressive players I have dealt with have been people in aggressive, confrontational, or dominant roles in real life, such as cops, lawyers, and the like. And of course, teenage males charged up on testosterone tend to drift to the aggressive roles as well. But as they age, older males tend to act more like female players do all along, losing interest in the overtly aggressive play. Full article here: https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-lifecycles-of-a-player/ […]

  73. “Everyone in the pipeline needs to understand market segmentation and how market segmentation affects, or should affect, the grand vision of the product”

    “The interactive entertainment products we create, or help create, need to become customer-centric solutions. We can only further that transformation by effectively understanding customers, and applying the passion we have for “creating the best games possible” to creating the best games possible for customers.”

    I couldn’t have said it better….

    Hrmmm Have you been hacking into my site morgan? :)~~

  74. “Everyone in the pipeline needs to understand market segmentation and how market segmentation affects, or should affect, the grand vision of the product”

    One additional statement to add is how you as the creator/product manager can affect the development of market segment as it’s a two-way street.

    Just as characters have their their levels and classes, players can have levels (Randy & Hedron’s models) and classes (Bartle’s model). Designers “interact” with the market. They can react to what the market wants (current crop of MMOs), create a new market sgement (see Ambition), or do something in the middle.

    Frank

  75. Allen Sligar wrote:

    I couldn’t have said it better…

    Thank you! 🙂

  76. “Everyone in the pipeline needs to understand market segmentation and how market segmentation affects, or should affect, the grand vision of the product”

    “One additional statement to add is how you as the creator/product manager can affect the development of market segment as it’s a two-way street.”

    Yeah, well hopefully these little issues can be solved for you by data miners one of these days (hopefully sooner rather than later)….

    hi ho hi ho back to the mines I go…..:)

  77. Allen, Morgan…

    SWG was redesigned with “what customers want” in mind. Do you think this made it less incremental? Do you think this made it less of a clone?

    For that matter, most summer movies are designed with “what customers want” in mind. Again, what do we see as the result?

    Now, many people characterized WoW as “EQ done right”, although maybe “EQ done with a $50-$60 million budget” is as fair an assessment. So this supports your idea of focussed marketing to some extent. (Although many WoWers are getting bored and returning to their original online games, if my EQ experiences are any indication. And there is only one WoW.)

    But all in all, I think that the idea that focussed marketing will do anything other than hasten the transformation of pretty much every new game into a clone of what’s come before is complete nonsense.

  78. Jim wrote:

    SWG was redesigned with "what customers want" in mind. Do you think this made it less incremental? Do you think this made it less of a clone?

    I’m not a believer in the "go with the flow" addiction.

    magicback (frank) wrote:

    Designers "interact" with the market. They can react to what the market wants (current crop of MMOs), create a new market sgement (see Ambition), or do something in the middle.

    I’ve hammered these topics many times before. Respectively…

    1. Responding to market desires, opposed to needs/requirements, usually results in incremental innovation, portfolio consolidation, commoditization, and price-focused competition.

    2. Business should never be constrained to either market-driven strategies or market-driving strategies. The strategic executive should be sufficiently flexible to choose the appropriate strategy to optimally achieve business objectives. Which strategy is used is not as important as what gets done; although, what gets done is strongly influenced by which strategy is used.

    3. Extremes succeed. Moderates fail. There are exceptions; however, the rule is generally true. Fence-sitting is neither proactive nor a leadership activity.

    Jim wrote:

    But all in all, I think that the idea that focussed marketing will do anything other than hasten the transformation of pretty much every new game into a clone of what’s come before is complete nonsense.

    I’m not into solving grammatical puzzles. Would you please rewrite that sentence? 🙂

    I honestly can’t make sense of that statement. I also have no idea what "focused marketing" is supposed to mean.

  79. I think he meant that “focused marketing” will lead to copy-cat behavior in the MMO space and beget more WOW. Not entirely inaccurate.

    Morgan has some good points. Strategic planning always has a place in any organization/industry.

    I think I need to differentiate what I’m speaking to, so that no one is actually confused.

    There is a massive differance between “Marketing” and “Business Intelligence”. One is subjective (perception driven) one is objective (data driven).

    Thus, there is a differance between a focus group, and data mining (here Im talking about deep data mining, not your basic demographic trend analysis, even marketing folks know its wise to use this type of data).

    Both creatures are sub-species of the business ecology and inform decesion making, one just happens to be more accurate than the other….:)

    However data is only as good as the person who ultimately uses it. Data without action is useless. Thus, the oft spouted term “actionable data” was born……

    I think you mistook my comments as those of a Marketer. They sound similar I know, but thats never been my cup of tea.

    Although I will tell you a good Marketing/Advertising/Communications person can really help drive the success of any organization, this is especially true where they understand and are armed with the aforementioned “actionable data”. In cases where they (meaning anyone) are not armed with this, or dont bother to understand it, AND effect change in an organization, disasterous or costly consequences result….ALWAYS

    Im in the business of arming people with data.

    Sorry to get off topic, just wanted to clarify.

  80. Allen Sligar wrote:

    There is a massive difference between “Marketing” and “Business Intelligence”. One is subjective (perception driven) one is objective (data driven).

    In response, I argue that marketing is perception-driving whereas business intelligence is data-driven. James Lenskold demonstrates that marketing can also be data-driven and perception-driving in his book Marketing ROI. The first half of the book serves as an excellent introduction to the higher levels of marketing. The second half gets down and dirty with formulae and mathematical marketing concepts. As Dr. Nirmalya Kumar effectively demonstrates in his book Marketing as Strategy, there is definitely more to marketing than merely subjective concerns. I reject any claim and/or inference that describes marketing as a lesser practice.

    Although business intelligence and marketing are distinct fields of study, in practice I would not separate business intelligence from marketing. Collecting, compiling, and interpreting business data to develop internal and competitive audits is integral to the marketing function. Remember: marketing is primarily concerned with the healthy growth of a business organization. In order to instill growth and positively impact the bottom line, even marketers need to be informed.

  81. Back to the original point of the thread…

    This is great stuff. However, I’d like to go one level lower with the investigation. Originally my intent in asking for a thread like this was designing an online game with an ecology, and fitting player characters into that structure as part of that ecology, rather than in opposition to that ecology.

    So rather than an overall progression of a player’s role in the ecology, I was curious about an Audobon-like Guide to Characters. If you look at Bartle-types (et al) as Genera, some Species may pop out at you. For example:

    – The Rare-Gathering Achiever
    – The Number-Crunching Achiever
    – The Twink Achiever
    – The Crafting Achiever
    – The Mercantile Achiever
    – The Mercantile Killer
    – The Grief Killer
    – The Among-Friends Killer
    – The Honorable Duellist
    – The Map Explorer
    – The Mechanics Explorer
    – The OOC Socializer
    – The Nurturing Socializer
    – The Guild-building Socializer
    – The Mule (subspecies, infertile)

    Now, I know that any given character isn’t limited to a species as real-world animals are, and can in fact have characteristics of many or all of these.

    On the other hand, I think that each of the “species” listed interacts with the gameworld’s ecology in specific ways — with wants, needs, products, and by-products that affect other characters within that ecology. Discovering and characterizing these species (or if not species, at least coherent collections of wants / needs / products and byproducts), can lead to the intelligent development of workable virtual-world ecologies.

  82. “I reject any claim and/or inference that describes marketing as a lesser practice.”

    “Although I will tell you a good Marketing/Advertising/Communications person can really help drive the success of any organization, this is especially true where they understand and are armed with the aforementioned “actionable data”.”

    me too!

    My attempts at misguided humor and the ocassional jab at marketing people notwithstanding…..hehe

    But perhaps I should be more serious.

    Back on target:
    Jim, great stuff there about inclusion of the player as part of the ecology rather than in opposition to it.

  83. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marketing people wield too much power.
    See Evidence

    😛

  84. Anything useful a marketer can do can also be done by a good designer. Know your audience, of course, but most importantly know your technology and how your audience interacts with it. Marketing frequently falls down, and falls down hard, on the technology side.

    So let’s get back to talking with some good designers about how their customers have been interacting with their technology. 🙂

    Hopefully you’re still reading this thread, Raph. Think you know anyone who might have the time, enthusiasm, and experience to contribute to the “Audubon Guide to MMO Characters”? Could even be tongue-in-cheek, to get the ideas flowing.

  85. Anything useful a marketer can do can also be done by a good designer.

    Anything?

    Marketing frequently falls down, and falls down hard, on the technology side.

    Prove it.

  86. Amaranthar, Im not sure if I should cry or laugh…..

  87. […] Lifecycles of Players? Raph Koster is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.  And I only met him briefly at the Second Life party in S.F. during the Game Developer’s Conference.  I love his book, A Theory of Fun.  And I recommend the book to everyone; parents, kids, instructional designers, software developers, everyone.  Many of his blog posts go far deeper into game theory than I can understand, however this post is quite relevant to recent discussions and learning projects with Secondlife and other MMO tools.As a mere lvl 21 Orc Warrior I’d say I’m at the second circle within WoW. […]

  88. Morgan-

    Anything truly new or innovative — not a clone, those can be done by marketers as well as anyone (if they have a significant support staff of technically competent personnel) — yeah, a good designer can do it and do it better. If you think the clones fall under the category of “useful”, well, I agree a money-making monster of a game can have its charms, but for the most part we have to agree to disagree there.

    Although you could say that a marketer can “build a brand” better than a designer. At which point I’d also have to say building a brand through good solid design falls under “useful”, while building a brand independent of good design does not.

    As far as proving marketing falls down hard on the tech side, I’ll have to leave it up to the readers here whether their experiences align more with my point of view or with yours. Solid proof would take an effort akin to the Daedalus project or MMORPGchart, and (sadly) I don’t have time for that.

    But back to a topic we can find some common ground on… picking the brains of the experienced designers here — data mining 🙂 — to find out what they think about the types of characters in online games, so that we can find ways to fill their needs in accordance with the needs of our online worlds.

    In your experience, have you found the categories I mentioned to be useful or applicable? Are there others you’d propose? Can you think of what a typical character of any of the types needs, wants, or produces at various points in its life-cycle? (newbiedom / learning, journeymanhood, mastery, and elderhood, for example)

  89. Jim wrote:

    As far as proving marketing falls down hard on the tech side … I don’t have time for that.

    Unlike your hats, there are no unexplained rabbits in mine.

  90. Morgan, I think the technical people here already have a pretty good idea of marketing’s capabilities, when it comes to actual technology. They can decide for themselves which side of that argument lacks support.

    Anyway, back on the subject of the thread– determining what sort of player characters actually exist in online games. I don’t think that “upwardly mobile professional” is exactly a valid designation, once you get them into the ecology of the game itself. And I think the research that Bartle, Koster, et al, have produced has started us in the right direction, but it could be more detailed. Have anything to add along those lines?

  91. They can decide for themselves which side of that argument lacks support.

    Indeed, we can; unfortunately for you, the burden of proof is securely fastened on your shoulders.

  92. Amaranthar, Im not sure if I should cry or laugh…..

    Allen, both. Think about it. Marketing is really an extention of what we are in our core. If they hit it right, they can change history, literally, as that example shows. There’s something about Santa dressed in red, something well beyond “what we were indoctrinated with”. It’s something at the core of our spirit and being, but defining that something is truelly difficult to put into words. It’s there though, deep within us is a thing that recognizes what feels right.

    But marketing isn’t infallible. Personal opinion varies, and some people have opinions that don’t coincide with the majority. When marketing drives in directions, it’s got some personal opinion involved. Especially in areas that can’t be defined by statistics, or where the statistics are misleading (due to any number of reasons, such as WoW’s success and asking why).

    I suspect that the question posed here, about the life cycle of players, is accurate. It just “feels right”. I mean in a sense that’s beyond what we can clearly see through our experiances. It’s logical, it’s proven, but most of all, it seems very familiar in a personal sense.

    My point is to agree with Raph, that we are moving to a social environment. MMO’s have tried all the other, base instincts sort of things. It leaves us bored with that part of it. It’s just not enough. It’s lacking. It doesn’t feel complete or “right”.

    When the marketing people hit on this, they can change history again. They can tear a new hole in the etherial abyss we call MMO’s.

    But they also need to recognize what it is that makes current games successful. It’s not the crack. Don’t get me wrong, the crack of level and item grinding does drive players, but that’s not why the majority of them are playing.

    It’s the:
    -game world, and the more beautiful and awe inspiring (WoW) the better.
    -the fantasy, I mean who doesn’t want to slay a mighty dragon or tame and train a mythical beast, or live a life of a blacksmith, or whatever. many things here.
    -but most of all, it’s the social elements. Even solo players want to do it among other players. The more social elements, the more detailed and deeper working, the better….even for the solo player types. It fills out the game world, makes it feel complete, makes it “feel right”.

  93. So we know in fact that marketing can “spin” interest in a game, without these fundamental components, and I think we can also safely say that marketing cant “spin” loyalty to a game, that does not contain these componenets.

    Jim.
    Im not sure that anything other than a fairly open ended definition of player types and progression is going to be applicable, except on a purely thoretical level (which could translate in some ways to design). This doesnt mean you cant “inventory” behaviors, because every industry can.

    Heres why:
    Players in all thier variable, flawed, random, and obnoxious behaviors within a virtual world in my experiance will exhibit one or many characteristics, (and interests) sometimes simultantiously, despite what they do in real life. Does this mean they cannot be somehow quantified? Absolutely not. Does this mean you can predict what role a player will be interested in assuming without reliable modeling? Yes you can, but your taking a risk with your resources, if your predicting without data.

    How many games have we played in various roles, where some feature was designed into the VW, that was fundamentally uninteresting to the majority of the player base or rather viewed as useless, flawed or not applicable?
    And how much time, effort and cost was involved in its design?

    Is WOW considered “good” or “done right” because its a) the best designed, most immersive, and graphically superior game? Or b) because its the most “efficiently” designed “streamlined” game? (Id love to get confirmation that WoW invested HEAVILY in researching what MMO players want in a game, during design, but I’m not sure I ever will, if someone has a link to a source feel free to let me know)

    Was WoW successful because a) it is the best released game in the history of MMOs? or rather because b) there were no other alternative games available during a significant migratory (churn) period for MMO gamers?

    (here I have to further clarify that I DO NOT believe the over all decision to play a game (or rather what makes a game popular) is based on individual choice, but rather community migratory “patterns”, e.g. what game are my friends playing”

  94. Is WOW considered “good” or “done right” because its a) the best designed, most immersive, and graphically superior game? Or b) because its the most “efficiently” designed “streamlined” game?

    I think WoW is only considered ‘done right’ by a subsection of their users. Those mainly being the high-end raiders who love collecting shiny items and those who are playing an MMO for the first time and revel in its easy to use and understand interface and enjoy the hold-your-hand, linear quest lines that generally are also easy to understand. Otherwise, it has PvP, but I don’t think anyone thinks that was done well; crafting is uninteresting, requires little interaction and is 90% useless; world interaction is minimal and players leave no mark on it, no matter how hard they try; social gatherings are uncommon, beyond simply going into a dungeon, because the game has few tools for players to interact with (getting drunk, dancing and doing a train emote pretty much covers it)…

    You know, I had to stop as I was writing this and re-think what I was saying. Obviously, WoW is ‘done right’ in many ways, at least from a business standpoint. Hell, I was in the Beta for it and have been paying for a subscription for a little over a year and a half (though I did cancel earlier this month).

    Undeniably, a big part of their success has to be attributed to their succesful tapping of the Asian market, which already had a love for Blizzard games. It would be very interesting to see a breakdown of their active players by region. I would also be curious about retention rates and wonder how that will play out over the next couple of years. I think WoW is nearing its peak, though their expansion is impeccably timed to push that peak up farther.

    What really determines ‘done-right’ness? Number of players? Profit? Longevity? I suspect that long after EA pulls the plug on UO, people will still be playing the game on the ‘grey shards’. Somehow I doubt the same be said for WoW.

  95. Hrmmm my post got cut off…..

    Anyhow, I wasnt positing that WOW was done right. Much of it is done “well”, much of it ignores what many advanced gamers desire. It is in fact “efficient” and “streamlined” insofar as for what it does as a game. From a business standpoint yes its a veritible cash machine, appealing to those lowest common denominator characteristics you sited in your post Tholal. In fact they are standardizing this process to create more games going forward according to thier Wall Street presentation.

    Now does Im not sure this appeals greatly to many of those players who enjoy certain advanced roles in a game. There is therefore a void in the market related to this, where I believe there are a number of players waiting to make a significant investment in a viable game. A game that contains all those aspects you cited as lacking in WOW.

    Would WOW have addressed those areas you cited in a significant way rather than going the route of inflation, it would not be “peaking”. Or rather going into a retention pattern instead it would still be expanding its user base while retaining those it currently had.

    I believe there are 3-4 million Asian WOW players and approx 2-3 million in the states. Im unsure about the european market Ive not seen and stats.

    Done “right-ed-ness” is based on who you ask. Is it finance, designers, programmers, marketers, or players? In the end its a combination of factors, for me as a gamer its: “How long can I have fun here with my friends, in the role Ive chosen to persue, and does what I do matter in this VW”

  96. Jim,

    If you were to design an MMO RPG, what are the archetypes you would make a place for in your ecological world?

    I am reminded of the monster ecology articles in Dragon magazine and am reminded that each archetype has to have an end-game significance in the world ecology or the archetype becomes marginalize. The bartle types, while not perfect, does makes it clear for many the basic archetypes (like Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Priest).

    Frank

  97. Allen-

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with you when you say that openended, general definitions are the only thing we can come up with here (and are in any way useful), and further disagree with the idea that it’s impossible or not worthwhile to come up with specific categories of gameplay styles.

    Look at the UO Stratics boards. You have Treasure Hunter builds, you have PvP builds, and you have Crafter builds. Clearly, players have the idea that there are specific goals they have in mind for their characters’ gameplay; we would be wise to pay close attention to that.

    And I make the distinction between players (who may be upwardly-mobiles or Middle-aged Mall Concubines, yet have exactly the same, definable playstyle) and their characters. For one (as I said), you find people from widely different walks of life attracted to the same sort of activity in games. For another, players frequently have one character for one role and another character for another role, with the character builds designed accordingly — even in EQ, where the builds were prebuilt for you.

    So can we please get off the generalized, nebulous “marketing” subject and back onto something concrete and useful?

  98. […] Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player save this people 45 […]

  99. Surely 🙂

    And those are good points, I obviously need to do more research, on this subject! Because my experiance does not have the same depth.

    But I think you might have missed my point somewhat or I wasnt clear. I was simply saying that it might be wise to control for player variablility, and that variability can be quantified. And have a good idea what that variability might entail by understanding the player base. So maybe we’re getting at the same things from different directions? I’m not sure, but it now seems that way.

  100. Allen-

    Perhaps we are approaching the same thing from two different directions. Sorry about the hostility; it was just a little bit of a shock (nightmarish, almost) to see a thread on a subject I’d pushed for going in the direction it was going.

    But I guess I can see how Research into the Way People Play MMOs, from a scientific / sociological point of view, could overlap marketing research into the same subject. Since the subject is born of equal parts curiousity about the subject matter and concern about making a program people will like, I’m very much against the investigation devolving into “what will people pay the most money for”, which is what I’m afraid will happen if it’s viewed from a marketing perspective.

  101. I’m very much against the investigation devolving into “what will people pay the most money for”, which is what I’m afraid will happen if it’s viewed from a marketing perspective.

    Incorrect! Sorry, try again. On second thought, don’t.

  102. Why the marketing hate??
    “What people will pay most for” is a game that contains what they like and value.

    So the investigation should be – what elements of a game are most valued by players.

    If a game is to be good (enjoyable, playable, interesting etc) good marketing must be done.

    WoW is enjoyable playably and interesting to a PARTICULAR market segment. So is Eve – but the two communities are considerably different and are aiming at different types of players. I’d say Marketing is pretty important.

  103. “Marketing frequently falls down, and falls down hard, on the technology side.”

    Prove it.

    I’d suggest taking a look at the popularity of the new SWG. 🙂 Marketing clearly advised the suits that scraping the existing game in hopes of attracting new customers. Turned out that meant giving up the bird in the hand for the two playing Worlds of Warcraft.

    Is WOW considered “good” or “done right” because its a) the best designed, most immersive, and graphically superior game? Or b) because its the most “efficiently” designed “streamlined” game?

    Hmmm, well, if it was “b”, then City of Heroes would be a better game. It’s much more streamlined, none of that pesky crafting. Come to think of it, City Of Heroes is a better game, Warcraft is a better world. It’s not the most immersive (but I do perfer their death system to many. I hate “looting my own corpse”. I’m not dead, how can I have a corpse?) nor graphiclly superior. I think acctually that Blizzard got a lot right in their MMO, and it shows. Now, I hope there isn’t anyone reading this post that doesn’t think they could write down 5 ideas on a 3 by 5 card that could be coded and beta tested in a matter of weeks that would make it superior to where it is today. I know I could. But the biggest flaws it has are shared by all leveling MMOs on the market today, and therefor tend to be “accepted” or “allowed”.

    If a game is to be good (enjoyable, playable, interesting etc) good marketing must be done.

    I’m going to disagree. A game should appeal to the designer and his team first as something they would like to play. In the end, they can’t have the same experience of someone who didn’t sit on design meetings for 4 months, but that’s where it should start. Without that passion for the idea, they will never get it done with all the challenges that will present themselves. They would end up handing in something that is “good enough” instead of good.

  104. If a game is to be good (enjoyable, playable, interesting etc) good marketing must be done.

    Actually, this phase is called “managing player expectations”.

  105. Yeah, but from the player standpoint we call it “managing developer expectations”. 🙂

  106. Rik wrote:

    Marketing clearly advised the suits that scraping the existing game in hopes of attracting new customers.

    From what I know of the subject, marketing desired neither the changes that led up to the NGE nor the NGE because the customers did not desire the changes or the NGE. As much as you want to blame marketing for all the evil in the world, the reality is that the marketing function usually lacks the executive say-so to perform effectively. That is why there is such a strong movement in many other industries to encourage CMO-powered marketing. The function of marketing is to create sustained value to attract and retain customers, not to destroy sustained value to repel and alienate customers. Marketing achieves success in the company through the customer. Marketing is the customer’s best friend, even if the customer hates marketing.

    A game should appeal to the designer and his team first as something they would like to play.

    In commercial game development, designers are assigned to projects they usually did not initiate, regardless of whether the project is appealing. While being able to always do what you love to do is an excellent aspiration, it’s not a reality. Just ask anyone in quality assurance.

    Without that passion for the idea, they will never get it done with all the challenges that will present themselves.

    There’s this thing called project management… You may not have passion for excrement, but you can still have passion for excretion. Again, just ask anyone in quality assurance.

    They would end up handing in something that is “good enough” instead of good.

    Apathy breeds satisfactory effort. A lack of passion is not apathy. A lack of passion simply calls for excitement. Passion can be instilled. Just ask Raph.

  107. Well this threads gotten quite a bit more interesting and intense since I was last here..

    Seems like your efforts were in vain Jim-

    Anyhow despite the devolution of this thread I am wondering (while avoiding the SWG/NGE landmine) if this thread is now (or maybe already was)
    about generating buy-in. The developers must first buy-in to the idea, to generate the creation, the company must buy-in to the idea and development of the product, “Evil Marketeers” (per morgan) must generate buy-in by the current, potential, or future playerbase. And finally, for a game to stick the players must “buy-in” and believe thier roles are valid. This last is premised on the initial buy-in by the creators. All other steps are intermidiaries to achieving completion (no matter how much we might love or passionately defend our chosen fields, they only represent incremental steps in a larger process (see project management)). And I might add at every point understanding the player seems like the imperative…even for us godlike data miners (

  108. (PS: that last line was a joke)

  109. The average game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.

    The average age of the most frequent game buyer is 40 years old. In 2006, 93 percent of computer game buyers and 83 percent of console game buyers were over the age of 18.

    Per the research committed by the Entertainment Software Association, customers and users are differentiated. If the objective of game design is to retain users, then the objective of marketing is to attract customers and encourage customer-to-user conversion.

    Also note that buy-in is not always a matter of passion; although, passion can contribute to the decision to buy in. I’m currently writing a hefty article/presentation on customer decision-making from an interactionist perspective. The customer-decision making process applies to any situation where purchase and re-evaluation decisions can take place.

  110. Awesome Morgan, I’d definately be interested in seeing it when your done, as it relates to my little(?) GMM project, feel free to email me a link on publication etc. Also I have been looking at the IGDA web site, No chapters here in Sacramento, the closest is in SF :(, still that gives me a reason to go eat at the Tadich I suppose…

  111. […] The better you target your news, the greater the number of interested people who will see it. Learn More (it’s free!) Logged in as demo. Login Feedback Discussion – Register (no email required) – del.icio.us demo accounts – CleverCS – Web 2.0 Del.icio.usSearch Everyone’sSubmitted Links My TargetedLinks My TargetingLinks My LikedLinks My DislikedLinks My SubmittedLinks Link Targeting Raph’s Website » The lifecycles of a player – https://www.raphkoster.com/... games, community, sociology, psychology, culture, videogames, interesting, theory, players, gaming more like this / fewer like this – reply – targeting – surf 0 points, 0 liked, 0 disliked, del.icio.us import, 20 bookmarks, 35 days ago In Habitat I observed five distinct patterns of usage and social commitment: –photophunk The link above is currently targeted to 0 people based on the targeting rules below.Resubmit the link above to improve its targeting rules. Link targeting determines who will receive the link as a targeted link. However, it is the link score that determines the ranking of that link among targeted links. Consequently, accurate link targeting is critical for a high link score. Spam too many people with poor targeting and most of them will just vote your link down, thus reducing its rank among targeted links. Learn more. resubmit link above (so you can improve its targeting) No links found. For quick and easy link submission, drag and drop this bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar: Target Your News Submit […]

  112. […] The Lifecycles of a Player The More Things Change…and if you haven’t read it before, Players Who Suit MUDs. The first two are articles by Raph Koster, who was a lead designer on Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. The last one is by Richard Bartle, who created the first MUD.Personally, I agree with most of what these articles say, at least in my experience. I’ll probably comment more on these later, but that’s a fair amount of information to digest. […]

  113. […] Your page is now on StumbleUpon! For each appearance in your referral logs, one of our members has ‘stumbled upon’ your site after clicking “Stumble!” on our toolbar to discover a new great site. Enter Your URL → […]

  114. […] Full musings set finally since I have a few weeks of time on my hands: The perfect trick to play on that hot girl you hang out with Lifecycles of a player [not a joke; interesting] Mitch Hedberg’s 20min Comedy Central Presents…. Everyone loves Magical Trevor.. – I love this one Stephen Colbert vs Stone Phillips – Gravitas Rematch Could you pass the test to become a US citizen? – I’m sure Graves knows the answer to #19 Yay freedom! Think Different Funniest game of Tetris you’ll see all day That’s Ka-blamo! – when you’re mining for coal and you forget what coal is Kabumei: Art of the Sharpened Grenade Kickass Light-saber Fight – good twist ending Jedi Breakfast – live long and prosper bitch Lecture Musical – very well done for a lecture hall prank “60 Minutes” segment on The Colbert Report – Anyone can READ the news *to* you; I promise to FEEL the news *at* you I have plenty more to post over the next week or so that I have free, but to end this edition is probably my favorite clip from the show Lucky Louie. A great show on HBO if any of you have it. Lucky Louie answering “Why?” […]

  115. […] Raph Koster, The lifecycles of a player (June 16, 2006) […]

  116. […] (Upcoming Theory-craft! The basic gist is that Blizz knows what they’re doing in terms of allowing us to level so quickly in TBC. There is a large amount of lateral content planned for level 70.) Well, if you’re like me you’re looking at the people who were saying “It takes as long to get from 60-70 as it did to get from 1-40 or from 1-60,” and you’re wondering what pharmacy they’ve been to and how did they mix the common household drugs. It looks to me, and I could be wrong, that it’s possible to get to 70 within a minimum of 28 hours played. That was a record set by a guy who had his guild killing mobs he’d tag. Even still, the ability to level so quickly instills a mild bit of fear in my heart. Will the expansion be over before Blizzard releases new content? Will we be able to have something to enjoy for a long time? Some of us may be thinking that the answer to the above questions are: Yes, the xpac will be completed by most very quickly, and we’ll be bored before Blizz gets on it. I would like to say that that may not be the case. I’ve been learning a little bit about MMOG economies today. They appear to run rather differently than real world economies because in MMO economies it’s possible to create value out of nothing (or a bit of time). Essentially it is very easy to create new wealth and so inflation can get out of control verrrrrrry quickly. In order to curb this there are a couple of tools that game devs use, as seen in the link below. https://www.raphkoster.com/2007/01/17/flation/ If the above -is- the case, then one can see why Blizz would make the level cap so low, and the levels so easy. Basically the levels are easy because gaining them proceeds on the same curve as the previous 1-60 levels did. One could postulate that Blizz did this in order to maintain a contiguous gaming experience from 1-X (where X is the current level cap). The reason the cap wasn’t raised higher, while this could be baiting the consumer, is simply so that the game won’t die out as fast. Either that or it’s the most expedient route to provide new content. Designing linear content of a similar volume to the content in TBC may actually have taken more work than designing the lateral content that appears to be in TBC right now. If that is not the case then one can still fall back on the idea that designing Linear content, in terms of a greater level cap, would create such inflation when the population hit X level that the game would quickly collapse under it’s own weight. Proceeding in a slow linear manner and a quicker lateral manner appears to be what Blizz is doing. There was a lot of lateral progression at 60 and look how long it kept us playing I’d also say that the economy isn’t as inflated as I’ve heard it can be in games like FFXI. So the plan appears to be working. If that’s the plan Blizz also appears to be using money sinks to reduce the amount of cash in circulation. I think the strongest examples would be Epic mounts and the Tier.5 armor quests. Follow that up with the Epic mounts in outland going for 5k gold one starts to see some fairly massive money sinks. Crafting, while it returns to the crafter, is also a money sink, and now that I think of it, the crafting system may actually be designed such that selling finished products is supposed to generate very little profit (as so often has seemed to be the case). So inflation goes down due to there being less free gold. The lateral content appears to come in at 70. One has two major dungeons to explore(The Caverns of Time and Karazhan), each with a couple of wings, plus a heroic difficulty mode. With all of that lateral content and a stable economy almost forced due to game mechanics it seems that TBC will have a lot more life in it than just 60-70. Your thoughts?! Other interesting links: https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16/the-lifecycles-of-a-player/ http://crystaltips.typepad.com/wonderland/2005/03/raphs_keynote.html Link on SWG’s Economy: http://www.boingboing.net/2004/05/03/star_wars_galaxies_e.html_________________ […]

  117. […] Originally Posted by PastorInsanity I’ve been amazed with the kinds of psychological insights RPGs have provided me with… https://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/16…s-of-a-player/ […]

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