There’s a pretty well-known test for MMO gaming known as the Bartle Test. It’s not unlike the Myers-Briggs type indicator test, with the exception that it’s not quite as well established, and of course suffers from many of the same flaws as the Myers-Briggs test. However, it still provides an interesting basis of comparison and discussion. For those interested, you can take the test here: http://www.gamerdna.com/quizzes/bartle-test-of-gamer-psychology.
In my case, I’m apparently an Explorer-Achiever. Basically, I’m a reward-driven completionist. Which fits somewhat well. Some games, I like finding and doing all the things, assuming they can be done in a reasonable amount of time, though I’ll definitely do things I don’t necessarily think are fun if it means it’ll give me an in-game edge. But that’s the caveat: a reasonable amount of time.
|Reward Driven, Exploratory, Social, and definitely not sadistic or competitive... wait, I'm totally competitive when it comes to DPS/HPS meters...|
One would think as an Explorer that I’d love open-ended games. I mean, in a game like Skyrim, there’s so many things to do and see. But that’s where I hit a brick wall. A game that’s open-ended also doesn’t necessarily have goals, which are part and parcel of what drives me in video games: goals that mean something. Oh, I’ll explore the world and let myself get side-tracked, but then eventually I lose the thread of what I’m doing and get bored, but I’m too far from the main storyline, the primary goal, and so I just quit.
Recently, there’s been a fair amount of talk in the blogosphere about Achievements in MMOs. They provide arbitrary goals (as much as anything can be more arbitrary than anything else in a video game) that you can choose to complete. And while I don’t begrudge others their achievements, I find they don’t do a damn thing for me. I’ve had my Xbox Live account for nearly 6 years, and I only have ~10k points despite having nearly 100,000 available to me based on the games I’ve played. Even in WoW, my achievement score is just over 7,000 out of a total possible 21,000. Basically, I only pick up incidental achievements.
Yes, they’re goals, but there’s no real reward besides a toast on-screen. Now, a reward doesn’t have to be a powerful item. It could be a cinematic, or some story, or revealing a new area. That’s all just dandy. But for me there has to be something more than just a “Congrats, you met our requirements!”
Which may be why I tend to gravitate to JRPGs over WRPGs. Solid, clear story. Minor deviations for side-quests, but nothing that takes away from the primary quest. Direction and goals.
(Yes, I did that in Survival. From scratch. With no help or cheating. I think I died making that waterfall like twelve times...)
So then why the hell do I like Minecraft and Terraria? They’re the ultimate in sandbox games, and yet I love playing them. Perhaps it’s because I give myself clear goals (rail system to all my friends, build a keep, get the best armor, get this enchant, so on), or perhaps I just can’t deal with the hybrid nature of a game like Skyrim, which mixes sandbox with the theme-park story on rails. I'm not sure. What makes other people tick?