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To summarize the results in a more coherent manner, each extreme of
the 4 personality scales and age, gender and length scales will be
described. Because my sample came from role-players, the factors here are
relative to the gaming population. So the introvert mentioned below is
more accurately the gaming introvert instead of introverts in general.
Also remember that very few people are extremes and the accuracy of the
following statements depends on how high or low someone scores on the
personality scales. Furthermore, the following scales interact and are not
completely independent of each other. I will draw quotes from my original survey to
illustrate what I’m describing. These quotes are drawn from people who
responded to both the survey and questionnaire.
Introvert: Introverts are people who appear reserved and shy in social
situations. They are taxed by interactions and thus prefer to be alone or
with a small group of friends. They put aside time for reflection and
introspection. Introverts often hide their real personality in real life
and put up a façade for the world. In role-playing, they allow their real
identities to be expressed in their characters. Because of this, they
often choose the same kinds of character classes or character types to
role-play. Role-playing their real selves in a character allows them to
feel more secure in the hidden self, and they might begin to think and
talk like their character in real life. To others, it might seem that the
introvert is becoming someone else. To introverts, it will feel like they
are becoming their real selves. They would find it hard to role-play
characters that are too different from who they really are. They dislike
the hack-and-slash aspect of role-playing games, but systems of classes
and types appeal to them. They probably tend to drift towards the rogue
and mage classes.
1/20: In AD&D I used to play only thieves at the beginning because I
wanted my characters to be cunning and not just do the hack and slash
thing. Then eventually I had one warrior as well just to see if it could
be fun too and finally I stuck with mages. I like the idea of a basically
very weak character in physical terms who then has magic to defend
him/herself. Especially when they are still at a low level they are a
challenge to play because they are so weak.
5/20: Yes, I usually choose the magician (or shaman). Generally very
intelligent, but fairly weak. He usually is withdrawn and afraid of
opening up to other people. Usually his family and friends are all dead or
Extravert: Extraverts are people who are energized by social interactions. They
are active and feel at home in crowds or busy places. There are usually
many people who they can call friends. In role-playing, extraverts find it
easy to role-play characters with very different personalities and
experiences. Thus, they do not have a preference for one character class
over another. They enjoy the hack-and-slash aspect of role-playing, but
they would rather be playing in a system that does not base characters on
numbers and fixed classes. The main appeal of RPG’s for extraverts is
the social aspect. They like the opportunity to be able to interact with
17/20: I actually try to vary my character types. I try to challenge
myself with different roles, as opposed to pigeon-holing one type.
17/20: Not at all. I choose
my character based on the mood I'm in at the time of the game.
I'll play any class or archetype or style of character if it means
a good story.
17/20: [On what similarities there are between the character and himself]
There usually are none. I try to play a different personality, sense of
humor, moods, actions than what I would in real life! That is the fun of
Sensor: Sensors are people who like to learn through their five senses. They
want to be able to feel and touch what they are working on. They prefer to
be realistic and to think about what is factual. They are down-to-earth
and practical. Sensors find it hard to role-play different kinds of
characters. They would probably find it hard to connect and immerse
themselves in the role-playing world because it is ungrounded and
fantastical. In the sample of 225 people, only 10 people scored below the
average. Again, this relates to the other findings of gamers being more
open, imaginative etc. Because of this, I feel that sensors would probably
not enjoy RPG’s which is why so few of them were in the sample.
Intuitive: Intuitives enjoy thinking about what is possible. They enjoy
exercising their imaginations and coming up with creative solutions. They
prefer to think abstractly and consider a problem conceptually. Intuitives
find it easy to be in the shoes of very different characters. They are
attracted to RPG’s because it allows them to take different perspectives
and they find it to be an intellectual challenge. They prefer RPG sessions
to be deep and intense and they add emphasis on character and plot
development. In taking these developed perspectives, they are able to
learn a lot about themselves and they find that they grow as a person
through participating in RPG’s. Through their characters, they are able
to better understand and resolve some of the problems they have in real
18/20: yes, I know I learned a lot because I started playing when I was
four years old … and most importantly the importance of all perspectives
in life. I saw why it was
important to have respect because I may start a fight with a friend or get
in trouble with my mother and she may "drop a slug on my head".
18/20: [On RPG Appeal] The role-playing, the fantasy of taking on a
persona, developing a history, learning the character inside and out.
18/20: Physically they often look a bit like me because that's the way I
imagine them in my mind. Their
personality often varies tremendously from mine.
The setting is a big factor in the personality type … I think of
my characters as a creative outlet for me.
I do empathize with my creations a little.
Thinker: Thinkers are objective and cool-headed. They often pride themselves on
being logical, firm-minded and being fair. They believe in standards and
almost universal laws or rules. Thinkers are somewhat detached from the
emotional and subtle aspects of the role-playing game. This is because of
their objective analytical nature. In a game setting, they are probably
the ones who know all the rules and are able to set things straight when
the players are not clear on the rules.
5/20: [On Whether People Learn Anything in RPG’s] Not really. A lot of Fantasy stuff has very real historical references
6/20: [On Character Empathy] Not really.
They are interesting constructs, in the same way that a favorite
character from a book or movie would be, but my own emotional state is not
tied to them or their fate. I've
done quite a bit of acting, so I guess I'm just used to the idea of
playing a role, but still keeping it separate from yourself.
Feeler: Feelers believe that emotions and personal feelings should be
accounted for when making decisions. They are soft-hearted and prefer to
find common grounds between opposing ideas so that harmony can be
achieved. They believe that mercy is far more important then justice.
Feelers are able to immerse themselves in their characters. Feelers build
characters who are idealized versions of themselves. Because of this, they
often find that they become easily attached to their characters and are
able to feel their character’s pain and joy. They too are attracted to
RPG’s because of this perspective power but probably more in the
emotional aspects. This intense interplay of emotions and personal
interactions allows them to learn about themselves in RPG’s. They too
find that RPG’s help them grow and understand their real life problems.
Furthermore, they are able to vent their pent-up emotions through their
characters. While both intuitives and feelers learn about themselves, they
are probably learning different kinds of things. Feeler learn about their
own emotions and resolve problems that are emotionally related. Intuitives
are probably less specific in this context, and simply enjoy being in
someone else’s shoes.
19/20: My characters are always smart, beautiful, assertive, independent,
and their weapon of choice is always knives.
My characters tend to be what I WISH I was in real life... Each of
my characters is a different aspect of myself.
I have an assassin character, who is very quiet and forceful.
I have a shaman character who is flamboyant, fun-loving, and loyal.
I have an elf character who is the woman of many faces, and beneath
her masks is really, really insecure. Each of those characters is very
like some things I see within myself.
18/20: Hmmm...this one's tough. I feel that I maintain a good, healthy
separation between myself and my characters. I don't get mad at a player
if their character has just landed mine in jail. Or at the DM if he's
ruled against something my character was trying. However, I
am a very emotional person … So I do have a tendency to empathize
with my characters (and other people's characters as well.) I can usually
recognize my tendency to become maudlin during a gaming session and I'll
usually excuse myself to use the restroom or get a snack or drink from the
kitchen and take those couple of minutes to calm down a bit (choke back
the tears) and return to the table.
Judger: Judgers are planners and superb project managers. They have an
internal clock that allows them to organize their duties and finish them
in time. They like things finalized and set, and are not afraid to make
decisions. Judgers are often comfortable with their physical appearance.
They are attracted to role-playing because of the logistical aspect. They
love the elaborate tables and charts and how the game system is built up.
They are less likely to be very attached and emotional with their
characters, and they have very little trouble with playing a character
with the opposite gender. They usually wait and fill in for a missing
character class or skill area in the character creation process.
4/20: I've always been attracted to the systems.
I know real life isn't something that can be defined by odds so
simple that they can be rolled out on d20s or percentiles, but I'm always
fond of the attempts to do so. I'm
pretty sure I'm the only idiot attracted to quantification of the
4/20: [On character empathy] No. Some of them are physically like me but
most are not. I try to play many different races and classes. I even play
female characters from time to time. None of my characters are even close
to me in personality. They all have some of my traits but I try to be
inventive in not being like me.
Perceiver: Perceivers are spontaneous. They want to let life live and prefer to
leave things flexible and open-ended. They are adaptable and go with the
flow. Perceivers usually are less comfortable with their physical
appearance and would like to be more physically attractive. In
role-playing, they create characters who have the physical traits that
they would want in real life. They play RPG’s because it lets them
escape from mundane reality. They tend to be attached to their characters
and empathize with them. Part of this comes from venting their pent-up
emotions through their characters.
18/20: [On RPG Appeal] The fantasy. I
enjoy being able to leave the everyday humdrum stuff behind and
participate in something that I'd never really be able to do in real life.
[On character-player comparison] Physically very similar.
Personality... I guess
about the same. They tend to
be either very head strong, sarcastic, or depressed.
I guess that's like me. [On character empathy] Not really an
extension, just a possibility of what I could have been if I truly lived
in that world. Something that I can be for a few hours, but that
inevitably returns back to me in real life.
17/20: [On RPG Appeal] I like the freedom involved... I can do whatever I
want, and be whatever I want. To get away from reality every once in a
while is a great thing. [On player-character comparison] Physically, I try
to make my characters what I hope to look like later in life. They
resemble me, but are more muscular, and generally two to four inches
taller than I am (I am 6'2", and I like a 6'4-6" character). I,
admittedly, give my characters more facial hair as both a way to assuage
my feelings of inferiority in the facial hair area, and an homage to Kevin
Nash and many of my role models (My cousin Matt is one of these).
Young role-players are more likely to feel that their characters are
closer to who they really are. They are more likely to prefer one kind of
character class or type over others, and often base their characters on
their own quirks and motivations. They tend to choose character alignments
that are different from their own, perhaps both as an act of safe
rebellion and trying out different moral perspectives. Young role-players
see the RPG as a way to escape from reality and to be immersed in fantasy.
Older role-players are usually less consistent in character choice and
prefer not to role-play characters that are based on themselves. They are
not as drawn to RPG’s because of the escapist and fantastical aspects.
Instead, they find that RPG’s provide a good atmosphere for socializing.
14: I figure anything that can get you away from reality is probably good.
Reality tries to crawl up behind you and bite you in the ass. It's nice to
have a whole different environment where you can just be whoever you want,
and say, "Well, my character would do that." When anyone gives
you crap. It's having the freedom of life without any of the
14: [On RPG Appeal] The ability to escape into another world where I can
be whatever or whoever I want. I
can relieve everyday stress with becoming someone else who's stress is not
only completely different but interesting. [On player-character
comparison] They usually are a lot like me. As I stated above I like quick
and intelligent characters. The personality is usually what I always would
think of saying or doing but never do in reality. My characters are closer
to my real personality than what most people see in my facade.
36: [On Appeal] I enjoy the exercise of my imagination and interaction
with friends. [On character choice] No. I try to play a variety. I try to
make my characters as unlike myself as I can. I've often played males (I'm
female) and they look totally unlike me. I find it easier to stay in
character if I'm imagining someone unlike myself.
45: [On Character Choice] No, I have a variety of classes and genre. [On
alignment comparison] Oh, yes...in AD&D term I consider myself Chaotic
Good and I find it easier to portray my own morality.
I put a high price on personal freedom but not to the detriment of
Men in general have role-played for a longer period of time than women.
Women tend to be score closer to the Feeler side of the Feeler/Thinker
spectrum and usually find themselves more attached to their characters
than men do. Women also tend to enjoy the perspective taking aspect of
RPG’s more than men do. While men prefer RPG sessions to be fun and
light-hearted, women prefer them to be deep and intense. Men are more
likely to see dice as an integral part of gaming.
of Years Playing RPG’s:
Beginners, like young role-players, tend to base their characters on
themselves and have a character class preference. A beginner’s character
often looks physically similar to the player. As a beginner role-plays for
longer, their characters often look less and less like them physically.
And as time goes on, players find it easier and easier to play a character
of the opposite gender. Moreover, beginners are more attached to their
characters than RPG veterans. Also, the escapism appeal tends to decrease
for veterans. The appeal probably shifts to other areas.
2: [On character choice] Yes; usually a character to do with knowledge.
I think it's because it's a personality that I'm most familiar with
and approve most of. Sage,
teacher, bard, singer, student, etc. usually involves a very analytical,
keen mind and an organized way about them, which is, to my opinion, the
best anyone can be. [On player-character comparison] personality-wise, it
basically the same version of myself with a few twists (such as being a
witch = knowledge of lore and herbs, being a singer, etc.). Usually I have a high charisma and beauty, which I think
leans more towards my "ideal" self.
I think that generally speaking, the physical aspects tends to be
more "ideal", and the personality aspects tends to be more
similar to reality.
20: I do not stick to any archetypes, enjoying more the attempt to
role-play or act different types of characters.
Some games I have requested a character created exclusively by the
Game Master to stretch my role-playing abilities. However it is true that
common themes run through all my characters, and that the characters all
contain tiny fragments of myself. I
amplify and expand upon little parts of myself with my characters. [On
player-character comparison] Extremely variant ... too many different
characters with too many different morphologies to be very helpful on this
question. [On alignment comparison] Of course I align my characters based
on my own personal ethical compass . . though I hadn't realized it until
just now. Thank you for the
question. As these beliefs are so core to myself, I think my ethical
structures would be the hardest to go against.
I am a good enough role-player that I could
"act" in a way contrary to my own ethics and might even
be able to do it convincingly. But
I would not be comfortable and it would certainly be the exception rather
than the rule.
Mulcahy’s original dichotomy and classification were too simplistic in hindsight. By taking more factors into account, we are better able to see how game and character preferences falls over a broader spectrum of personality, gender and age factors. Furthermore, we begin to see how complex the issue is because gender, age and the other personality factors are combined together in every person. It is useless to use only an individual’s score on Introversion/Extroversion to predict gaming behavior. Every factor adds another thread in this tapestry.
Before I move on to the extended discussion, I want to describe one group of dangling preference statements. In Mulcahy’s original classification and my own gaming intuition, it was felt that some kind of personality factor influenced whether the character was physically, mentally, and morally close to the player. This was not borne out in my sample. The three statements that measured these 3 kinds of similarity did not correlate with any of the personality factors.
Clearly the 7 player factors (4 personality and gender, age, and length of role-playing) have to interact with each other because some of the gaming preference statements appear in several of these factors. Let’s take the example of Introversion/Extroversion and Age. We notice that several gaming and characters preferences overlap. A natural question to ask is how these traits might change in introverted players as they get older.
Taking the leftmost statement. We would interpret
this to mean that extraverted players tend to idealize their characters,
but only if they’re relatively young role-players. This correlation
weakens as role-players get older and there actually is no general trend
when all ages are taken into account. The next leftmost statement is even
stranger. Introverted players are more likely to agree with it when they
are young, but will tend to disagree with it when they get old, and yet
the overall trend favors the former.
As we delve deeper and deeper into the data, we begin to feel how complex these interactions are. But then, no serious personality psychologist would claim that personality was simple and easily categorized and described.