Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Timmy, Johnny, and Spike

I was reading this article on game design by Mark Rosewater, the head designer for Magic: The Gathering and one of the big names in the gaming industry. He talks about the different kinds of players that he markets to, why they play, and what they enjoy. It's an entertaining read if you're curious about the inner workings of the gaming industry.

Anyway, it occured to me that these three "psychological profiles" extend beyond just one single card game and cover just about any game player you can think of:

Timmy/Tina -- Plays for fun and wants to have a good time around the game table. Stereotyped as a power gamer; loves splashy effects and blowing things up. Maybe doesn't know the rules too well. Loves having a great story to tell about the game afterwards.

Johnny/Joanie -- Plays to express him/herself. Stereotyped as a role-player (as opposed to "roll"-player) in RPGs and many fit that profile, though may also or instead express him/herself through number crunching by putting together game stats in a way no one else has or building a deck around a spectacular combo.

Spike/Barb -- Plays to win. Stereotyped as a "roll"-player (as opposed to role-player) or munchkin. Gravitates toward competetive games (such as card games, board games, etc.) or games with a clearly-defined objective (such as most video games). Spikes/Barbs who play RPGs prefer "kick in the door, kill the monsters, loot the treasure" game play.

Needless to say, there can be some overlap between the different types, and one can be some combination of the three. Personally I see myself as a Johnny/Timmy hybrid.


Swinebread said...

In my experience Timmy & Spike are the same type, at least when it comes to the RPGs I've played.

My list is:

The power-gammer

The Roleplayer

The simulationist

Will "Filby" Staples said...

I suppose it may break down the further you get from MTG. *shrug* I do think there's a fundamental difference between the two, though, in that Timmy just wants to have fun and revel in blowing crap up (in which case I think I used "power gamer" in the wrong context) and to keep things fun for everyone else, whereas Spike wants to be the best at everything, everyone else's enjoyment be damned.

Hybrids can and do exist, though.