We all know that gamers are one big family, united by our common love of the games we play… except that we aren’t. We’re divided into a whole bunch of tribes that play these games very differently from each other, and each of the tribes stares at the others in sick incomprehension, convinced that they are Doing It Wrong.
I’ve written my little guide to the tribes here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because its fun, and that should be reason enough. Secondly, though, is because I started to write down my thoughts about Everquest Next after SOE’s big reveal recently, and I realised that I needed to refer to some of these tribes as part of that discussion. Rather than having a major digression in what could be a fairly meaty post anyway, I decided that Tremayne’s Guide To The Faeces-Flinging Monkeys Of The MMO Jungle probably deserved a post of its own. And so, here’s my list of the major flavours of gamers and a guide to their habits and habitats.
Fierce Competitors (FC)
FCs play to win. They’re up for a challenge, willing to work for victory and accept that if they aren’t on their best form then they might not win, but their definition of fun is bound up with their victory conditions. For them, dev time spent on cosmetics or events which don’t reward with best in slot items is wasted effort, and they’re intolerant of less capable or less driven players if those untermenschen get in their way (by, for example, slowing them down on a dungeon run)
Bartle type: Achiever
Most likely to play: any game
Most likely to say: “I’m the best!” (After topping leader board)
Least likely to say: “the most important thing is to have fun”
Role Players (RP)
For RPers, the game is just a framework and venue for a specialised form of social interaction. They’re here to make up their own story and share it with their fellows. Mostly harmless and have little interaction with most other tribes, apart from the passive-aggressive minority who cry that anyone who isn’t role playing to their own idiosyncratic standard is “breaking their immersion” – and seem to believe that using the game’s built-in ignore function is also immersion-breaking. RPers, especially the passive-aggressive sort, are natural prey for Sadistic Jerks..
Bartle type: Socialiser
Most likely to play: LotRO, Champions Online (for sheer costume variety)
Most likely to say: “Forsooth!” (If the cheesy ren faire thee and thou variety), “Let me tell you my life story…”
Least likely to say: “Let’s go farm some loot to max out my stats”
Wanna Wins (WW)
Oh god, the WWs. Like FCs, these guys enjoy winning. Unlike FCs, they feel entitled to win. They expect there to be a clearly laid out path to victory, ideally with a minimum of effort and for the love of all that’s holy without any requirement for actual thought on their part. These guys are voracious consumers of guides, go to the forums to ask “what’s the best class?”, are the group most likely to get a ban for exploiting, and think the dungeon finder is the best thing EVAH but queues for DPS are too long.
Bartle type: Achiever, Killer
Most likely to play: WoW… Wait, there are other games?
Most likely to say: “I’m the best!” (After ‘earning’ an epic item by being AFK through 20,000 PvP matches)
Least likely to say: “Let’s try something different…”
Sadistic Jerks (SJ)
For these guys, fun is a zero sum game. They’re only enjoying themselves if they’re ruining someone else’s day. They’re usually loud advocates of free for all PvP with full looting and ideally a “rape corpse” emote because they’re convinced that they would be the wolves and not the sheep in such a world. Group most likely to get a ban for grieving or offensive language – they tend to have very little in the way of communication skills other than a not particularly inventive selection of obscenities. They may be shy, awkward, bullied youngsters in real life in need of a good hug. Or they may just be oxygen thieves.
Bartle type: Killer. Definitely Killer.
Most likely to play: EVE Online but they will infest any other game, especially if it’s F2P so getting a ban doesn’t actually cost them anything.
Most likely to say: “QQ moar noob!”
Least likely to say: “I’m sorry”
Forward To The Past! (FTTP)
The FTTP crowd have found the perfect MMO – it’s the first one they played, over ten years ago. Everything since then has been on a downward spiral, and every innovation in the genre has been a mistake. WoW’s commercial success is just proof that all of the rest of humanity are brainless sheep. Despite their perfect game already existing, FTTPs feel the need to pop into every new game at launch in order to reinforce their prejudices, sneer at the kiddies and condemn the upstart game as a “three monther”.
Bartle type: Any – nostalgia knows no boundaries.
Most likely to play: Everquest.
Most likely to say: “Forced grouping or GTFO. And then you should have to travel for an hour to reach the dungeon. Where every spawn point is camped and has a waiting list.”
Least likely to say: “Action based combat is brilliant!”
Truly Madly Deeply Casual (TMDC)
TMDCs treat the game as just a game. They dip in and out, they putter around, they do whatever takes their fancy in their own sweet time. They don’t post on forums or write blogs because they just aren’t that invested in the game – anyone seen posting on a forum claiming to be a TMDC is almost certainly trolling. This makes the other tribes, many of whom live and breathe the game forums, seriously underestimate just what a large proportion of the player base is actually made up of TMDCs.
Bartle type: Socialiser, Explorer.
Most likely to play: Pretty much anything that isn’t ONLY FOR TEH HARDCORE, but probably WoW because a friend or family member got them into gaming in the first place, so statistically speaking the game in question was probably WoW.
Most likely to say: “I wonder what happens if I do this?”
Least likely to say: “Must grind for best in slot trinket…”
Mellow Old Farts (MOF)
MOFs are more invested in the game than TMDCs but more mature (both emotionally and probably wrinkle-wise) than WWs and have too much else going on in their lives to be FCs. They see the game as something to kick back and relax with, but they’re aware of what constitutes playing well and try to do so – within reason. They will learn to play their class abilities to good effect, but probably won’t spend hours upon hours grinding out that last 1% of improved performance – life’s too short when you’ve got a full time job and kids to spend some time with. MOFs would rather run a dungeon once with friends than speed-run it three times with grimly intent strangers for extra loot.
Bartle type: Explorer, Socialiser, moderate levels of Achiever.
Most likely to play: Guild Wars 2
Most likely to say: “OK guys, lets see if we can get this boss down before the baby wakes up”
Least likely to say: “I just farmed Dickwolf rep for 48 hours straight!”
As for which tribe I personally belong to… isn’t it obvious? Just call me Grand MOF Tarkin