Richard Bartle’s gamer classification schema is often used in understanding gamification, but is it right for the enterprise?
The classification lists 4 types of gamers. The implicit assumption is that if we don’t understand and cater for all four, are we in danger of building gamification solutions for just one type of person and reducing our overall penetration – i.e. 25% of our workforce instead of 100%?
Let’s revisit Bartle’s key classification of gamers as dividing into 4 basic “types”. These are often characterised by the suits in a deck of playing cards: Diamonds, Spades, Hearts and Clubs.
- Diamonds seek treasure
- Spades are explorers digging up information
- Hearts use games to socialize and empathize with others
- Clubs use games to kill and impose on others
So, the issues I see with this in a work setting are:
1. Club type ‘kill’ gamers (people who kill others) would be an unusual culture for an enterprise – the only enterprises where killing is valued in its raw form that come to mind might be pest control and the army.
2. Heart style socializing sometimes need to be curtailed in the interests of getting things done – companies often ask employs not to spend too much time on Facebook at work for example.
3. Companies themselves are often specialised in one activity and so attract staff who have a predisposition towards that activity – caring professions attract hearts, financial professions attract the diamonds and clubs, while police and legal professions attract spades for example.
This means it is not necessarily true that any one enterprise will have all types in equal measure. Indeed they may not want to. A sales led organisation would value Diamonds more than Spades while a non-profit might value Hearts over Clubs.
What else are the issues with Bartle’s classification when applied to enterprise? And, what are the solutions?