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Bartle Types and the Predictability of Ilum Rage

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Server Forums > The Ebon Hawk
Bartle Types and the Predictability of Ilum Rage

ArdoNorrin's Avatar

02.15.2013 , 04:16 PM | #1
Warning: This is a VERY long post, which really can't be summarized with a TL;DR

For those of you not familiar with the Bartle Test, it's based on a character theory based on the observations of Richard Bartle, the father of online multiplayer gaming (co-creator of the first MUD in the late 70s). In a paper he wrote in the mid-90s, right as the first "modern" MMORPGs were launching, Bartle observed that there were four types of players in MUDs (which has played out in MMOs), based on two axes ("players/World" & "Interacting with/acting on"):
  • Achievers -- these players have set goals to achieve (sometimes set by the game, sometimes not)
  • Explorers -- these players enjoy both experiencing the game world, the lore, and so on, as well as unraveling the mechanics of the game
  • Socializers -- these players really could care less about the game itself so much as they care about chatting with the people in it
  • Killers -- these players enjoy conflict with other players, whether in combat, business, or conversation

Each type has a "positive" behavior set and a "negative" behavior set. Postive Explorers seek to unravel the game's secrets and share with others (Dulfy is probably SWTOR's most famous Explorer); Negative Explorers figure out all the exploits and hacks. Positive Achievers help push the envelope and keep everyone else motivated, whether in PVE or PVP (Ranked PVP is built for the person with high affinities towards Killer and Achiever); Negative Achievers utilize the expolits and hacks to get there first at all costs. Postive Socializers form guilds and communities, and work to bring people together; Negative Socializers are cliquish "mean girl" types who like to decide who is worth socializing with. Positive Killers ("White Hats") tend to have an achiever bent, seeking out worthy opponents and challenges, or a socializer bent, focusing on protecting others; Negative Killers ("Black Hats") want to kill but don't want a challenge, prefering weak or outnumbered opponents.

Bartle later noted a few problems -- one is that these player types don't always stay the same and the other is that there was an additional element of behavior that the original two-dimensional model didn't take into account. You can read about it here.

For the record, I'm a heavy Explorer, and have never really delved into the Killer area. On the sequences in the later article, I'm squarely in the "Explorer Track".

So... what does this have to do with Ilum Rage?


In the 1996 article, Bartle talks about the only 4 possible player populations that can assure stability/sustainability absent outside factors, one of which is the "null" scenario where no one plays. The other three populations are:
  1. A balance of Achievers & Killers -- the meat of a PVP server
  2. A four-type equilibrium, where a heavy population of Explorers -- the meat of a PVE server
  3. A Socializer-dominated population -- the meat of an RP server (this, in practice, has a secondary type that keeps it a "game" and not a "chat room", requiring either a type 1 or type 2 population underneath the Socializers; hence having "RP-PVE" and "RP-PVP" servers)

This happens because certain player types attract or repel others:
  • Explorers attract other Explorers and some Achievers and repel Killers
  • Achievers and Killers exist in some semblance of balance -- with too many or too few of one driving the others away
  • Socializers attract Killers (because they can spread their "reputation") and are attracted to Achievers (for juicy gossip); Additionally, Socializers like their own
  • Killers tend to drive others away, in varying degrees. In my observations, this tends to be more an effect of the Black Hats than the White Hats.

So, The Ebon Hawk is an RP-PVE server, meaining that it's a PVE server (Explorer-Acheiver-Killer balance) underneath a layer of Socializers. Because of the heavy mass of Socializers, you get an decent helping of Black Hats who come to either Grief or Troll the Socializers.

Now... we take an event (Socializer bait) rich with lore (Explorer bait) and drop a quest (Achiever bait) in the middle of a PVP zone (Killer bait). Explorers and Achievers MUST complete it, and the Socializers don't want to be left out. Your Black Hat killers see an opportunity and start attacking the Socializers and Achievers (in sufficient numbers to survive the Explorers and White Hat Killers, who tend to be the most skilled players), and the following things happen:
  1. Socializers QQ
  2. Achievers soldier on to at least complete the quest if they can, and will try to repeat it to build up the maximum number of rewards. If they can't, QQ.
  3. Explorers will put up with it a little while longer, but really only care about figuring out the particulars. They won't stress themselves out to repeat something they've already been through. If they can't complete it at all, QQ.
  4. White Hat Killers form armies of like-minded individuals and go on search-and-destroy missions for Black Hat Killers, because **** them.
  5. Black Hat Killers, killed by the White Hat Killers so that the Socializers, Achievers, and Explorers can complete their quests, QQ because someone other than them is having fun.

If you watch the forums, this is exactly what has happened. And the flame war that has resulted is a result of the clash of the Killer mindset and the other mindsets. And it's not just the Black Hats; the White Hats, Achievers, Explorers, and Socializers have trouble understanding the other mindsets, too. For the Black Hats, the opportunity for fun is to lay waste to everyone else. For the White Hats, the opportunity for fun is to lay waste to the Black Hats and get good fights from the other White Hats, Achievers, & Explorers who can fend for themselves. The Achiever has some fun in overcoming long odds to succeed, but can get frustrated when they can't succeed at all. The Explorer doesn't have much fun with this sort of activity unless they've also got a strong Killer side. The Socializer's fun is ruined the moment someone interrupts time with their friends (although Socializers with a strong Killer side can have fun banding together with the White Hats to "take back mid!").

Looking back on my guild's Bartle test thread, I noticed my comments on my Bartle type, including the line "I'm competitive, but I want other people to have fun, too." Combined with my almost negligible Killer score and prior MMO history, my reaction (overreaction, TBH) to the events on Ilum the last few days makes absolutely perfect sense. And considering a larger, server-wide perspective, everything else that has transpired is exactly what everyone should have expected.

So what has this event taught us?

Well, it's taught us who the Black Hats and White Hats on this server are, as well as (to a lesser extent) who the Socializers, Explorers, and Achievers are.

And I guess that's something.
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Zorion's Avatar

02.15.2013 , 07:56 PM | #2
I enjoyed the read.

And it also explains the types and why they do what they do.

I'm white killer kind of guy tbh, and thats prolly why I've been hateing all the black-hat premades out there.
I dont mind the premades from most guilds, but its those few "leet" who would actually fit imo more into a black hat killer type.

Jenzali's Avatar

02.15.2013 , 08:36 PM | #3
One can predict rage to occur as long as the internet exists and people still have differing opinions about anything.

P.S. predictions are supposed to be done before the event :P
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Damastes's Avatar

02.15.2013 , 10:15 PM | #4
I like to think I'm a Rainbow Hat.

Analyze that, Bartle!
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KeyboardNinja's Avatar

02.15.2013 , 10:58 PM | #5
Outstanding thread, Ystrid! As someone who is almost exclusively an Achiever (and marginally a Socializer and Killer), the Ilum hubbub has been interesting to see, for sure, but unfortunately not enough to draw me out there. I'm really tempted to dive in if only to encourage Open World PvP (i.e. my Socializer streak), and getting some decent PvP on my fully PvE decked shadow would be an interesting challenge (Achiever + weak Killer). However, none of that is enough to really draw me in compared to the other things I do in the game.

So, I think the draw for Achievers really isn't high enough, which is a bit of a shame. I think I'll probably motor through and do the quests when the challenge is more about out-dueling roaming Guerillas and less about waiting for orb respawns. We'll see.
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Varder's Avatar

02.16.2013 , 07:07 PM | #6
Loved the post and I agree with the analysis. I am a bit of a Black Hat, mixed with achiever. I have not participated on full out node "lock-down", but I usually will not wait in line to turn in an orb. I am quite willing to fight for the right to turning my orb in first. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose (and my orb goes bye bye) but that is all part of the fun for me.

Good post and well explained.
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Ilith's Avatar

02.16.2013 , 08:48 PM | #7
As an Achiever my mission is to min/max my way to the best gear/reward outcome from the event. I honestly don't see much for Achievers to complain about in that regard. Veteran Achievers will have plenty of alts to grind rep and Helixes, which means our only reason to venture into PVP territory is to experience the PVP event dailies (Killer streak) or for completionist reasons (Explorer streak). Newbie Achievers are reassured the event will reoccur regularly, which should ease their anxiety about failing to reach their goals this time around.

Social types should be happy the important content (from an Achiever perspective) requires a large group. We need Helixes to acquire the BOL weapons, and Helixes are overwhelmingly acquired via Ops groups of 8 to 16 (or even 24). This gets Socializers and Achievers in the same place, constructively working toward goals that Explorers can get behind too. Meanwhile Killers amuse themselves in mid.

Since Achievers can't simply pool Helixes between alts, we're forced to grind out the group content over and over again. Hence there are plenty of people around for Socializers, and the most desirable rewards (BOL weapons) are equally obtainable for new/old/Achievers/non-Achievers alike.

Overall I think this event has been a great success, much better than the Scavenger Hunt, and I think people complaining about the PVP just like to complain.

Whizle's Avatar

02.16.2013 , 10:10 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Jenzali View Post
One can predict rage to occur as long as the internet exists and people still have differing opinions about anything.

P.S. predictions are supposed to be done before the event :P
Actually, behavioral theories are usually applied after the fact. Much of International Relations theory revolves around applying theories of realism to past events to determine or deny validity. Realism is sound theory that is capable of explaining most behavior, but it is not a useful tool for predicting how states will behave. This is because we have imperfect information before hand.

All that being said, I thought this post was an excellent examination of applying the tenets of a behavioral theory to the in game event.

-Yui-'s Avatar

02.16.2013 , 10:20 PM | #9
Outstanding thread. I think Bioware should note that a mix of the four archetypes tends to produce spectacular and controversial results - which despite the constant complaints about the event, is a recipe for success in my opinion.

I think this thread might be interesting enough that a repost in General Discussion might be worthwhile.

Halstadt's Avatar

02.16.2013 , 10:49 PM | #10
Despite common belief, people don't fit in little boxes with little labels.