The academic paper “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs” was written by Richard Bartle. Published in 1996, it is a seminal work in the field of game studies and player psychology. In this paper, Bartle categorizes players of Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), into four distinct types based on their preferred activities and motivations within the game. These types are:

  1. Achievers: Players who focus on attaining in-game goals, collecting points, levels, equipment, and other measurable achievements.
  2. Explorers: Players who enjoy discovering new areas, learning about the game mechanics, and finding out the secrets within the game world.
  3. Socialisers: Players who are primarily interested in interacting with other players, forming relationships, and engaging in conversations.
  4. Killers: Players who thrive on competition with other players, seeking to assert their dominance and affect other players’ gameplay.

Bartle’s taxonomy has been influential in the design of multiplayer games and understanding player behavior. It has also been adapted and expanded upon in various studies and applications in game development, marketing, and user experience design. We will be visiting those kind of studies in future entries of this new section called “Paper of the Week”.

Read it online, it’s really worth it.