Category Archives: Game Theory and Design

The Road Not Taken

I probably spoke earlier in the year about my various disappointments regarding WWDC 2013. I applied for a scholarship and I did not win.

Someone I met somewhere I can’t remember who talks to me on Twitter told me about another conference happening at the same time, GLS 2013. GLS stands for Games Learning Society. It is an interdisciplinary group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is made up of tech people and education majors who are trying to create a learning experience through games

This conference opened my eyes to a multitude of things I had never considered. They showed me tools that others had developed with the express purpose of teaching children how to code by creating their own games.

This spoke to two things that I hold very dear: Gaming and using games to learn.

I grew up playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and “Oregon Trail”. I never had a video game console or any of the “fun” games my peers had growing up, but I had games. I loved games.

I can only learn is something is interesting to me. I am very compelled by story. The only reason I know anything about astronomy is because of the vast multitude of celestial object that are named for mythological characters.

For me, the GLS conference was a life-changing experience. It really focused my attitude towards not just becoming a developer, but becoming a game developer.

I wonder how different things would have been had I gone to WWDC.

There was some focus on gaming at WWDC, but the vast majority was focused on grand-master programming. They focus on people who want to scale a code version of Mt. Everest.

I go back and forth. Sometimes I really want to be an elite-grand master programmer who scales Everest because it is there. Other time, I just really want to share my thoughts and ideas with the world and create nice tools that other people can use.

I am beginning my last full semester of school for programming. I am on a track that I hope to continue to take. Right now I am kind of taking inventory of where I am, where I want to be, and who I am right now.

I had a very turbulent summer that I intend to write about at some point. It is still hard for me to talk about, so I hope that if you read my blog you will be patient with my lack of responsiveness over the summer.

I am planning to write here more regularly. I have been advised to keep a public blog of my projects for my development class and this one is already established. Stay tuned for the next few months. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!

Bartle’s Player Types

A few years ago I was introduced to The Sims 3. My then-fiancee and I were living with another couple and the male half of the couple bought the game. He recreated their living situation with characters based on all of us.

I was familiar with The Sims (I wasn’t living under a rock!) but I had never seen or played it before. I thought it was fascinating. Later that year for my birthday our roommates bought me a copy of the game and the World Adventures expansion.

I wound up accumulating a half dozen expansions for the game. I started really getting into programming and I stopped playing it because when I was on my computer I knew I should be coding and not playing games. I eventually deleted it off my machine because I needed the space.

Sims in College

Living la vida Sims


A few months ago my husband got bored and started playing with it. The way that he played the game was completely different than the way I played it.

When I played the game I would create a bunch of different games and characters so that I could do different professions and hobbies. Any expansion that included a new hobby or another set of professions was one I had to obtain. I really like the Supernatural one and I wanted to get the University one before I put my life on hold for programming.

My husband only created one game and one character based on himself. He chose the profession that made the most money, ate the Sims equivalent of ramen noodles, and set about taking over the town. He saved up money so he could buy a business. Then he bought another and another. He kept asking me how many expansions I had and for every one he asked, “Can I buy that business?”

After he went through every expansion I had, bought every business he could, and bought the biggest house he could buy, he stopped playing. I doubt he will ever pick it up again.

I thought his playing behavior was insane. Why on Earth would you play The Sims to go out and buy every business in the town? The money isn’t real. It isn’t a microcosm of what it would be like to actually own a business in the real world. Why bother with doing that when there are so many options to explore?

Last night I learned about Bartle’s Player Types. These types are named somewhat after the different playing card suits:
Card Suits
A) Diamonds/Achievers: These people are Diamonds because their objective is to accumulate riches. This can be game currency, reaching the top of the leader board, etc… All other parts of the game, like socialization and expanding the world exist only to find new sources of treasure.

B) Explorers/Spades: These people are Spades because they like to dig around in the environment to see what is there. Explorers don’t care about wealth accumulation, socialization, or killing unless doing those opens up options for the player to explore.

C) Socializers/Hearts: These people are Hearts because the act of human interaction is the draw for them. The game is just the medium that these people use to find other people to interact with. They will help others further their goals if it allows them an opportunity to socialize with that player.

D) Killers/Clubs: These people are called Clubs because they enjoy clubbing people. These would be the stereotypical First Person Shooters players whose only enjoyment in the game is imposing themselves on others and killing other players. So these guys are the sociopaths of the gaming world.

Most people don’t fall solely into one of these categories. They usually are strongly one and have a secondary trait of another.

I found it interesting that this theory explains the different ways my husband and I would play The Sims. The Sims appeals primarily to Spades and Hearts, but there was a component in there to appeal to Diamonds as well.

The Sims is a very well-designed game that accommodates a lot of different player types. I think that many times if you are designing a game you are creating something that appeals to your player type only without thinking about adding components that would appeal to the other types.

This was a revelation to me about how many different types of people can all play the same game and how my husband’s way of playing the game, while not the way that I would have played, was not wrong.