Malcolm Gladwell has a Ted Talk where he argues that there is no Best Practice but there are Best Practices. It’s an interesting argument in favor of offering choices but one anecdote in the speech sticks with me. He talks about a coffee company that polled people about their favorite type of coffee. The majority said they favored a strong, dark brew. But as they followed up on the poll it turns out that most people actually drink weak, milky coffee.

Coffee is part of my morning ritual and I favor a medium blend with milk, no sugar.

There is a disconnect between what people say and what their behavior shows they actually want. This has a lot of implications but today I’m thinking about Player Type surveys.

I have taken a number of Player Type surveys which are usually based on Bartles Player Types. In Bartles thinking about online role playing games he breaks players into four categories based on what motivates them as they play. In his thinking players can choose to either  act on or interact with Players and the Environment. This is usually depicted like this:

The surveys ask a series of questions to identify the motivation a person has when playing games. Each answer choice indicates one of the 4 categories and at the end of the survey a calculation suggests what percentage each category influences the person being surveyed. Based on these surveys I almost always come out as an Explorer type with some Socializer thrown in. HOWEVER, this is how I think I play and even how I want to play. Turns out I’ve been fooling myself.

When my sons started playing Fortnite my wife and I started an account so we could play with them. What I have come to learn is that I love collecting the stuff. I love completing the weekly challenges. Often these tasks require finding items hidden on the map or traveling to specific locations which can make men feel like I am exploring but that isn’t the motivation. The desire is to Act on the World not Interact With the World.  My actions actually playing the game suggest that I am an Achiever type not an Explorer.

Sometimes when I complete a challenge and dont have enough time or access to the right part if the map my motivation changes – even in the middle of a game! I alter my mindset to try to win the Battle Royale which means I want to Act on Other Players – a Killer. Unless of course I am in a squad in which case I am usually trying to collaborate.

The implications of this are pretty meaningful.

  1. Be careful when using these surveys on students. They might not know what actually motivates them.
  2. Allow flexibility when they play in case those surveys were flawed.
  3. Motivations change – sometimes drastically and rapidly.
  4. Be prepared for students to change. Don’t take it personally
  5. Plan for all types even if the surveys suggest a class seems dominated by one type.

Of course, I think Marczewski’s player types fit a classroom better bit I dont see many surveys with these types.