Player Personality Profiles

Most of the data that I have presented has been big-picture quantitative differences between age or gender groups. In the most recent survey I collected a large set of personality data from respondents in an attempt to validate and restructure existing models to describe and understand player behavior and preferences. In doing so, I was able to gather fairly in-depth personality profiles of individual players. As I explored these profiles, I realized that they were just as interesting as the large-scale data. Here, I will present several profiles to highlight the different reasons why people play MMORPGs.

Brief Overview of Personality Scales Used

The individual profiles consist of 3 sets of data. The first is a Dynamics model developed by Edward Murray that assesses the motivations that drive an individual. This model bears a similarity to the Enneagram, but the major difference is that this model has been empirically validated. The second set of data is taken from the Big-5 factor model of traits widely accepted among personality psychologists. Traits are overt behaviors, as opposed to the dynamics that motivate these behaviors. And finally, the third set are the 5 motivation factors for why players play MMORPGs, taken from the Facets study. Each factor will be discussed as they appear below, but you may choose to read brief descriptions of each factor before proceeding.

With the Big-5 and the Facets scales, the percentages shown in the graph are the percentile-ranks of the individual's scores within the sample of about 2000 respondents. In other words, a 75% means 25% of the sample scored higher, and 75% scored lower than this individual on this scale. With the Dynamics factors, the percentages shown are the ratios of each factor after the percentile was calculated. In other words, the Performer percentage = (Performer percentile) / (Sum of all percentiles). This is done in accordance with Edward Murray's assessment calculations.


Let's begin with a profile of a 14 year-old male EQ player.

This individual has the attributes of a stereotypical young teenage male MMORPG player. Looking at the Dynamics factors, the high Performer and Leader scores imply that he derives most of his satisfaction from high-energy activities and asserting control over other people. Maturity changes how people channel their motivations. So immature Leaders may be bullies or tyrants, while mature Leaders provide guiding leadership and inspiration. This player's low Trait scores in Trust, Compliance and Modesty reveal that he is competitive, perhaps confrontational, self-confident and has a general mistrust for others. His high scores in Extraversion and Assertiveness go hand in hand with his high Performer and Leader scores - again a desire to assert himself in social situations. The high Leader score along with low scores in Compliance, Modesty and Trust imply that this player's social assertion is more malevolent and destructive than constructive, and this is reflected in the high Grief score in the Motivation factors. In other words, this individual enjoys tormenting and bullying other players in MMORPGs.


Here is the profile of a 57 year-old male UO player who plays for very different reasons.

In the Dynamics graph, the high Aesthete score implies a desire to connect with larger cultural or existential issues. Aesthetes may be artists or musicians, or they could be part of a not-for-profit or religious organization. Individuals who have high Manager scores derive satisfaction from order, rules and control. Immature managers oftentimes appear obsessive and stubborn, even fanatical. Mature managers are able to use their organizational and planning abilities constructively. The high Trait score in Duty matches the high Manager score, and we get a sense that this individual has a strong sense of moral obligation and this is the focus of the Manager dynamic - duty arising from a need for order and control is very central to this man's personality. Within the game, it seems to be the Aesthete dynamic that drives the dominant motivation to be immersed in the fantasy world - to be part of a collaborative story, a mutual suspension of disbelief that arises from role-playing heavy crowds.


Here is the profile of a 25 year-old male EQ player whose Dynamic data looks very similar to the first profile shown, but we'll see how important differences in the Traits differentiate these two individuals.

Again, we see high scores in Leader and Performer. The high Performer score implies an active lifestyle, and the high Extraversion score implies this is a very socially active individual. Compared with the first profile, this individual is less assertive and is more cooperative and easier to work with. While having a low sense of duty and obligation, this individual has a high need for organization and planning and is moderately driven to achieve. The high Leader score implies a desire to influence other people and this translates into a desire to lead groups within MMORPGs. Notice that while the teenage male chose to exert his control over other people destructively, this individual is exerting his control constructively. The high Manager score and the high Need for Order score hint at a joy of understanding the rules and mechanics of the game and deriving satisfaction from achievements within the bounds of those rules, and this is probably why this individual is achievement-driven within the game. This is a good profile for a guild leader or officer.


And finally we end with a profile of a 21 year-old female DAOC player.

Individuals who score high in Relating derive satisfaction from intimate relationships. Immature Relating individuals may be manipulative and self-serving (instilling guilt in others) to get more affection from others. Mature Relating individuals are truly unselfish and empathetic, and have a more giving kind of affection. Loyalists seek security from group allegiance or relationship loyalty. Immature Loyalists are self-effacing, and cling to powerful figures for security, while mature Loyalists are loyal to others and are trustworthy and dependable. This individual scores high on both Loyalist and Relating and enjoys using the MMORPG world as a way to form intimate and supportive relationships. The high Modesty and Compliance scores, together with the high Loyalist score, hints at a more immature Loyalist whose sense of security is so weak that they are self-effacing and that she gives in easily to more powerful figures. This is supported by the very low Assertiveness score. She seeks out authority figures to control her fears and insecurities (also supported by the high Duty score) - a self-deprecating form of loyalty. The high Role/Immersion score is probably a function of the moderate Aesthete score.