Social Isolation Together: The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology

This post is part of a new series that I plan to keep up as long as we’re still seeing recommendations to socially isolate in the US because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I prettied up the basic graph depicting the player types & their motivations.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about multiplayer gaming experiences, and how we interact with each other in virtual worlds. I am still adamant in my belief that I don’t really want to play games with others. At the same time, I’m watching my husband struggle with limited gaming interests, but an overwhelming social one.

So when I saw something about the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology on my Twitter timeline, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take the quiz, even though I was pretty sure I already knew how it’d come out.

Explorers delight in having the game expose its internal machinations to them.  They try progressively esoteric actions in wild, out-of-the-way places, looking for interesting features (ie. bugs) and figuring out how things work.  Scoring points may be necessary to enter some next phase of exploration, but it's tedious, and anyone with half a brain can do it.  Killing is quicker, and might be a constructive exercise in its own right, but it causes too much hassle in the long run if the deceased return to seek retribution.  Socializing can be informative as a source of new ideas to try out, but most of what people say is irrelevant or ol dhat.  The real fun comes only from discovery, and making the most complete set of maps in existence.

The paper on which the quiz is based is a bit dated now – games have evolved quite a bit since 1996 – and because of this, I don’t think the result is as applicable to modern multiplayer gaming experiences as it could be.

But it also makes sense. I mostly treat MMOs as single player games with a chat box. I almost never take advantage of “optional multiplayer” content, and I am resentful of games that don’t allow me to progress in the main game without calling in back-up. I am slightly more achievement-obsessed than my results would indicate, but I think that has more to do with me being a goal-motivated person in general than any real comment about what part of the game is actually the most fun for me.

I guess it’s no surprise then that I prefer to socialize by talking about gaming rather than playing games together. Connecting with other gaming-centric bloggers is a way for me to say “Look at this cool thing I found!” while letting others tell me about the cool things they found.

I’m also wondering what contemporary games best service these diverse player types – where can I get my primary need for exploration met while allowing someone else to meet their primary need for socialization? Is there a game that would allow an explorer and a killer to play together and both walk away satisfied. And if these games don’t exist, is it because it’s not marketable to put extended effort into making everyone happy, or is it because it’s just not possible?

Nerd Girl Goals – May 2020


Play to Satisfaction

For me, saying “Play to Satisfaction” gives me explicit permission to drop a game that’s not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I’m really loving something. I’m trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction – no more, no less.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

I’m fairly sure this most recent bounce off of Borderlands is permanent. I’ve hit a point where my level, gear and solo ability leaves me nothing to do but grind forever or get a co-op partner, neither of which I have any intention of doing.

So for May – at least to start off – I’m going to take my first dive on into Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and see how that goes for me. I’ve never gotten particularly far in any AC game, but I’m optimistic since this one is sort of a soft reboot, I might be more successful.

#MusicGameMay – Community Game-Along

I always try to pick a game for the Community-Game-Along before it starts for the month, but with the understanding it might not work for me, so I should probably have a backup (or two, or three). But I’m going to ‘fess up – Distortions sounded so neat I booted it up the other day just to take a quick peek, and I think I’m going to like it.

I hope. Fingers crossed.

I did make a Dynamic Category on Steam for games that are tagged “Music”, and I have a couple of good back-up options, including Conga Master, Rock God Tycoon, and Brutal Legend.

Other Gamestuff

World of Warcraft: With an active sub through the majority of the month, I want to finish out Pathfinder Part 2, and see if I can scrounge up enough gold to replace the token I used. I may even put some time into leveling my paladin & priest, who are both in BfA content since the experience buff is still active, but if I’m being real, I’m likely just going to fly around and pick flowers on my druid for money.

Civilization VI: With the collaborative game I’m part of at the moment, I’d like to spend some more time with this solo as well, so I’m maybe not going to get us obliterated the next time my turns roll around.

In general, I really just want to make a deal with myself that I’m going to spend more than 10-15 minutes with a game before tossing it back into the pile of things un-played. And also, that I will play the things I’m letting myself buy under the stay-at-home exception to Low Spend 2020.


The final episode of the first season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is airing this weekend, so next week, I’ll be settling in with some popcorn and a box of tissues to watch the final two episodes back to back.

I’d also like to keep on with watching Grimm, because I’m both enjoying it and making really good progress on my cross-stitch while I’m doing so.

I am expecting the entire month of May is also going to be spent in social isolation, and as such, I’m going to – more than anything else – set a goal to be patient with myself. Things that usually come easily to me are feeling more and more like monumental tasks.

I’m usually pretty good at dispensing nuggets of wisdom, now I just have to learn to remember that they apply to me as well.