Killers, Achievers, Socializers, and Explorers, Oh My! A a closer look at Bartle's Taxonomy of Player Types

Bartle's Taxonomy of Player Types

I’m a Killer at heart. That is I enjoy winning. I enjoy competition that pits me directly against others. I find it thrilling. Am I actually a killer? No, unless you count the spiders (deceased) that I find in my house.  But as far as a player type, I’m a Killer.


Let’s talk about Bartle’s Taxonomy of 4 player types. When designing game-based learning it’s important to think about your audience and what type of players you may have. Also, what type of players will your game appeal to?

A quick snapshot of Bartle’s player types:

  • Killer: Works to Win

  • Socializer: Works for Social Status

  • Explorer: Works for Discovery

  • Achiever: Works for Mastery

A lot of gamification uses achievements.  The player completes tasks to receive badges, they then collect badges to receive a specified rewards. That is great for the Achiever player types, but what about the other 75% of your audience? This is where true gamification jumps into action, creating complex programs that engage and motivate all types of players.

Killers like like challenges and to be able to act on other players. Look for ways to include competitions, either individual or team based. Try employing points, leader-boards, rankings, and head to head competitions to excite them.

Socializers also like having other players around, but for completely different reasons than the Killers. Socializers want interaction. They crave collaboration, sharing ideas and trading. Use teamwork, role play, gifts, charity to engage them.

Explorers are all about discovery. They want to be free to go where they want to go and do the things they want to do and experiment in order to find all the hidden secrets in a game. Use discovery tactics, world building, self-directed learning, and random Easter eggs to drive engagement.

Achievers like to collect accomplishments. They work hard to gain status and power through completion on tasks. They thrive on step by step process as they work for mastery. Motivate Achievers by using levels, badges, progression, rankings, and rewards.

Why does it matter?  Shouldn’t people just play the game because it’s required.

Yes, everyone will play and complete a required training. What you are looking for is a way to engage multiplayer types with your content. The more buy in you can get from the learners, the more engagement they will have with the content, thus building retention, positive association, and excitement for the training.

Need help building or delivering content for these 4 player types? Level Up Your Learning would love to help. We work with you to identify the best way to present your content for all types of learners and players. Our experts can run through a quick analysis with you to give you some great ideas and see where your next learning adventure could take you and your learners!