What type of gamer are you?

Yay! I've learnt how to jump on a turtle... Oh. Hang on...
Yay! I've learnt how to jump on a turtle... Oh. Hang on...

Are you a performance-orientated gamer or a mastery-orientated gamer? Have you even considered what 'type' of gamer you are? Have you even got the faintest clue what we are on about?

The latest analysis of the psychological underpinnings of the different types of challenges presented in videogames throws up some interesting theories about the different drives which lead us to spend (far too much of) our time playing games.

Performers and masters

Pixel Poppers breaks it down into two distinctive types of challenges offered by different game genres: performance-orientated and mastery-orientated.

"To progress in an action game, the player has to improve, which is by no means guaranteed – but to progress in an RPG, the characters have to improve, which is inevitable.

"It turns out there are two different ways people respond to challenges. Some people see them as opportunities to perform – to demonstrate their talent or intellect. Others see them as opportunities to master – to improve their skill or knowledge.

"Say you take a person with a performance orientation ('Paul') and a person with a mastery orientation ('Matt'). Give them each an easy puzzle, and they will both do well. Paul will complete it quickly and smile proudly at how well he performed. Matt will complete it quickly and be satisfied that he has mastered the skill involved.

"Now give them each a difficult puzzle. Paul will jump in gamely, but it will soon become clear he cannot overcome it as impressively as he did the last one. The opportunity to show off has disappeared, and Paul will lose interest and give up. Matt, on the other hand, when stymied, will push harder. His early failure means there's still something to be learned here, and he will persevere until he does so and solves the puzzle."

Zelda isn't learning

Rather embarrassingly, many of us are all-too-quickly able to identify ourselves as 'performance-orientated', which basically means we were told how smart we were too many times as a kid.

This is extra annoying as "it is the mastery orientation that is correlated with academic and professional success, as well as self-esteem and long-term happiness."

Dammit! And we thought solving all those puzzles in Zelda through the years made us genii…

Via Pixel Poppers

Adam Hartley