In Richard Bartle’s article, "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who Suit MUDs," Bartle writes about the characteristics of people who often participate in MUDs and categorizes the personalities into four groups. Bartle focuses on the "online-self" and the way in which these groups interact with each other while participating in online games. The games which he focuses upon in this article are similar to those like Dungeons and Dragons and other popular virtual quest games. The four groups which Bartle has created for online players are the Killers, Achievers, Socialisers, and Explorers. Following are the traits, briefly, of each group. The Killers are game players who will do anything to remove other players from the game and reach higher levels of strength by weakening the players around them (Bartle par 37). The Achievers are those who wish to gain all of the information and secrets in the virtual world so that they can reach the highest level of the game with the most knowledge and become the expert players (par 31). The Socialisers are the participants who take more pleasure in meeting new people and getting to know other players through the game, rather than focusing on the game world and their surroundings (par 35). The Explorers enjoy investigating all that the virtual world has to offer and worry about finding small details in the game rather than reaching higher levels than the other players (par 33). As well as categorizing the characteristics of individual players, Bartle also examines the varying ways in which groups interact with each other. For example, "Achievers regard other achievers as competition to be beaten," (par 67) "Achievers tend to regard explorers as losers" (par 70) while they tend to "merely tolerate socialisers," (par 72) and "Achievers don’t particularly like killers [because, although,] ... they realise that killers as a concept are necessary in order to make achievement meaningful ... they don’t personally like being attacked" (par 74).
Balancing the number of players in each group tends to come naturally in MUD games. While there may be more of one group than another, the ratio of players per group fluctuates depending on the numbers in each category. For example, if there is a large group of Killers then the total number of players within a game might be smaller. On an internet site created by gamerDNA there is a free test open for anyone to take who is interested in finding out which of Bartle’s category their "online-self" fits into. The website shows that sixty percent of the people who have thus far taken the test are Achievers, fifty-three percent are Killers, forty-seven percent are Explorers, and forty percent are Socialisers (gamer DNA). I was surprised when I took the test that I was categorized as an Achiever. In our LIS 585 course we took part in an exercise in which we were put into a group of four and each person was either a Killer, Achiever, Socialiser, or Explorer. Each group was asked to create a game which included elements that would interest each of the four categories. In my group I was the Killer and I embarrassingly admit that part of me had a fabulous time focusing my mind onto the traits of the Killer. But, as I took the online test, I found that if I wanted to be true to myself then I could not tick off the boxes which I knew would place me in the Killer`s group. Would I have made the same choices while playing a MUD game? I am not sure as the only time I have taken part in a similar game is when I was about ten years old and I became obsessed with a very old game of Dungeons and Dragons (which I often think about but have not played since). But, I think it is important to note that Bartle’s categories examine a person’s "online-self," not necessarily a person’s traits that you would see in the real world. For example, we should hope that the enjoyment Killers take in tricking and killing their "opponents" is not how they think and behave in the real world. Online Achievers might be the best players in their virtual game while having the lowest marks in school. Socialisers might excel in socializing in a virtual world while they might be terrified of meeting and speaking to new people in the real world. And Explorers might have no interest in leaving their country, province, city, or street but are thrilled to explore their surroundings in their virtual game. To find if Bartle’s categories meet a player’s "online-self" as well as their "real-life-self" further studies must be done.