Player Traits

The Games User Research (GUR) community has been collectively working towards understanding how player preferences and experiences can be understood and classified. A validated model of player motivations and behaviours can help game designers create games better targeted to their audience. But despite the efforts of the community and the recent advances, we still lack a definitive player traits model and a validated survey to score people on each trait. Therefore, after years of research, the HCI Games Group developed a new Five-Factor Player Traits Model, based on the existing literature and our own research studies.

This player traits model measures player preferences for five different styles of gameplay. Each person will have a different score for each player trait. Thus, a complete player profile includes a score for each trait. A player profile can be obtained by taking the player traits scale survey. The five traits in the model are:

Social orientation

This trait measures the player’s preference for playing together with others online or in the same space. Players who score high on this trait generally prefer to play together with others. They enjoy multiplayer games and competitive gaming communities, whereas players who score low would prefer to play alone.

Aesthetic orientation

This trait measures the player’s preference for aesthetic experiences, such as exploring the game world and noting the game’s graphics, sound, and art style. Players who score high on this trait enjoy aesthetic experiences in games, such as exploring the world, enjoying the scenery, or noting the quality of the graphics, sound, and art style. On the other hand, players who score low might focus more on gameplay than the aesthetics of the game.

Narrative orientation

This trait measures the player’s preference for games with complex stories or narratives. Players who score high on this trait enjoy games with complex narratives and stories, whereas players who score low usually prefer games with less story elements. Players who score low in this trait might also skip the game’s story or cutscenes and feel that sometimes the story gets in the way of gameplay.

Challenge orientation

This trait measures the player’s preference for fast-paced and challenging gameplay. Players who score high on this trait generally prefer difficult games and hard challenges. Contrarily, players who score low prefer easier or casual games.

Goal orientation

This trait measures the player’s preference for gameplay that involves completing quests or tasks, collecting digital objects, or similar experiences. Players who score high on this trait enjoy completing game goals and strive to complete games 100%, explore all the options, complete all the collections, and so on. On the other hand, players who score low might leave optional quests unfinished, and are usually more relaxed if they do not complete a game 100%.

Take the test!

Would you like to know your player traits profile? Take our player traits scale survey!

Help our research!

We are looking for volunteers to take part in a new study to find out the preferences of a person when playing games. We are especially interested in learning how individual preferences vary per country or cultural background. The goal is to learn how to design better digital applications and games.

If you decide to volunteer, you will be asked to complete a 25-minute online survey. Survey questions focus on your preferences while playing games or using gameful digital applications, as well as personality and demographic questions.

Please note that you must be 16 years or older and familiar with digital games to participate in this study. In appreciation for your time, you can enter your name into a draw for one of three USD $50 international Visa gift cards.

This research is conducted by the HCI Games Group. This study has been reviewed by and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee. However, the final decision about participation is yours.

Click here to participate online.

Publications

The following publications present our player traits research:

“I don’t fit into a single type”: A Trait Model and Scale of Game Playing Preferences

Gustavo F. Tondello, Karina Arrambide, Giovanni Ribeiro, Andrew Cen, and Lennart E. Nacke. 2019. “I don’t fit into a single type”: A Trait Model and Scale of Game Playing Preferences. In Proceedings of INTERACT 2019, LNCS 11747. Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-29384-0_23

Player Characteristics and Video Game Preferences

Gustavo F. Tondello and Lennart E. Nacke. 2019. Player Characteristics and Video Game Preferences. In Proceedings of the 2019 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play – CHI PLAY ’19. Barcelona, Spain. ACM. doi:10.1145/3311350.3347185

Towards a Trait Model of Video Game Preferences

Gustavo F. Tondello, Deltcho Valtchanov, Adrian Reetz, Rina R. Wehbe, Rita Orji, and Lennart E. Nacke. 2018. Towards a Trait Model of Video Game Preferences. In International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction 34, 8: 732-748. Taylor & Francis. doi:10.1080/10447318.2018.1461765

Use the scale in your research

Please see these summarized instructions to use the scale in your research project: The Five Factor Player Traits Scale.

The player traits infographic is licenced under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence by the HCI Games Group, using icons licenced under a CC BY 3.0 licence from game-icons.net.