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If You Play Games, You’re One of These 9 Types of Player

Are you more of a "pew pew" or "mwah mwah" kinda gal?

Berdly wants a kissy from a gamer girl

Despite Red Dead Redemption 2 being a game about nasty, stinky outlaws who spent their days killin’ and robbin’, I found myself playing the game with a romanticized ideal version of the protagonist, Arthur Morgan. I enjoyed the sense of peace and purpose I got from taking care of his basic needs: cleaning himself up, riding peaceably through towns, hunting for food and money … you know, living an honest life, the sort of life Arthur was always waxing on about how he wished he’d had.

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But then, a friend of mine came over and wanted to try the game, and within five minutes of getting a hang of the game world, my Arthur—my sweet, sensitive Arthur—had suddenly become Valentine’s No. 1 Criminal. My friend would delightfully cackle as they found new ways to jump the law, hiding behind trees and bushes, and I’d watch in horror as my honor bar—so carefully raised, dutifully so—was steadily reduced with every little “Bad Cowboy” ding.

At the time, I was both amused and horrified, praying to god that my save didn’t get overwritten. But in reflection, there was something kind of delightful and interesting about that night, and the many nights like it between myself and my friends. By and large, how a person decides to play a game doesn’t dictate who they are entirely, but it can certainly be a revealing surprise to see how their particular brains approach a challenge.

For instance, this friend of mine is a happy-go-lucky person, who painstakingly worries over other peoples’ wellbeing and has dedicated their life to helping others. But underneath that life’s mission lies their natural inclination towards being a complete and utter servant of debauchery, so it honestly made complete sense that they had a Dirty Harry moment to let off steam.

In reflecting on this, I realized there’s quite a few different ways that people engage in the games we play, and that it’s kind of delightful to recognize these types and acknowledge them. So, after a bit of “research,” these are the types I could come up with—which one(s) are you?

1. The Tactician

Fire Emblem: Awakening Screenshot.
(Nintendo)

Whether playing a top-down RPG, a turn-based RPG, or just any RPG with some level of finessing to beat, these players take their strategies waaaay more seriously than just mashing X and Y. They know every little skill and secret to get past various parts of the game, mostly related to combat. If you’re feening for some cheese, these guys are cheesing in spades; they can help you out.

They also plan their character builds not with a role in mind, per se, but with a set plan of skills, buffs, and talents that will help them get through the game in the “best” possible way. I’ve played with these guys numerous times, and they always sigh with disappointment when I care more about my half-elf’s origin story than her choice of cantrip. Because what do the little details matter when there’s deathclaws to take down???

2. The Min-Maxer

A Fallout screenshot of a character with low intelligence replying in conversation.
(Black Isle)

These guys terrify me. Imagine committing to a bit the second you load up a game, with absolutely no room for wiggling lest you want to strap yourself in for a bad time.

“Min-Maxing” means prioritizing some very specific skills over other ones, to create a very specific sort of character from the jump and never straying from that path (until it’s doable, at least). This could mean having a super strong Courier in Fallout New Vegas who also happens to be an anti-intellectual nightmare, the sort that companions will follow out of pity and concern for their wellbeing. Or, making a super spongy glass-cannon mage in Dark Souls, who will obliterate bosses from afar but GOD FORBID those bosses get too close.

3. The Loremaster

Skyrim Arcanaeum screenshot.
(Bethesda)

Recently, I hosted a get-together that ended with some wind-down games, and Fire Emblem Warriors happened to be the thing I had downloaded on my Switch at the time. Unfortunately for me, I really outed myself as a capital G Geek, because every time my friends wanted the characters to do something they couldn’t do, I’d tell them, “You can’t play as Ingrid because Ingrid is from the Kingdom of Faerghus, which is on the opposing side, and in any case Ingrid wouldn’t join the Federation because she’s loyal to Faerghus and wants to be a knight and the Federation probably doesn’t even know how to take care of pegasi so what would she even do in that scenario, you’re just gonna have to stick to a wyvern-rider because that’s all we have, well yes, I could TECHNICALLY make one of the characters ride a pegasus but that’d be super lore-breaky and—oh my f*cking god did I really just say that.”

Yes, reader, I really did say that. Some people (cough cough) retain a lot of lore information from games, to the point where they’ll end up having all this useless information just coasting in their brain. It’s a cozy feeling when you return to the game itself, as you’ll feel familiar in its world. And some people even go as far as collecting bits of lore you might have skipped over and making entire theses or video essays about them. But at the end of the day, for some of us, collecting these pieces of lore feels so natural that it’s shocking to learn other players don’t know any bits of lore at all.

4. The Roleplayer

An orc in the Elder Scrolls series.
(Zenimax, Bethesda)

This one is probably the one I associate with the most. These are the players that get hella into whatever role they’re in, especially if they get to create their own characters. They don’t care all that much about stats, or buffs, or whatever. They want the story, baby—that sweet, sweet narrative that allows them to fall seamlessly into a role of their own making.

Normally, these players gravitate towards games where they can make their own character, like the Elder Scrolls series, or get really deep into choice-making, like with Divinity: Original Sin 2. Conversely, games with strict narratives and character-design, like The Witcher 3, can be a little hard for them to get into if they can’t really “relate” to Geralt McSteakHands of Rivia.

5. The Poli-Sci Student

The Inquisitor meets Dorian Pavus, one of the very few Asian characters in a western fantasy RPG
(EA)

These guys crack me up. They take the political situation of a video game and anachronistically apply real-world parameters to it, sometimes in order to get people to hate on a fictional character or nation.

And, look, just like with lore, it’s perfectly well and good to engage with a game in a way that you find stimulating. But these guys don’t even seem to enjoy what they do: they start arguments, join arguments, go to great lengths to make arguments about why XYZ is a fascist, why ABC’s mass murder was actually good for the people, this and that, etc. etc.

The thing is, often, these people have a good core point in their arguments, and they raise issues in a game’s writing that the actual writers would be wise to take note of. But when it gets to the point where minor game discussions become small-stage Model UN scenarios, I think it might just be healthier to go outside, take a walk, and call a friend.

6. The Serial Romantic

Max kisses Chloe for the first time
(Square Enix)

Once upon a time, diehard Fire Emblem fans watched in horror as an onslaught of new fans joined the franchise for Awakening’s new romance mechanics. These same fans prevail today, in whatever capacity, always checking to see if a new RPG will have romance mechanics, and sighing in disappointment if they don’t. (Why, oh why, can’t we romance the hot priest in Outer Worlds?)

Typically harmless, albeit sometimes a little unhealthily attached, serial romantics take romance in video games very, very seriously. If there’s a cute ship to be had, you bet your ass they’ll start making fan art of it, and that fan art might even get a little ~spicy~. Sometimes, they’ll even try a game they normally wouldn’t, just for the romance. That’s kinda why you’ll see a fair amount of crossover between the visual novel crowd and the fantasy RPG crowd.

7. The Goblin

Alistair fighting an ogre
(EA)

The more popular term for this type of gamer is “Murder Hobo,” but I don’t want to disparage the houseless here, and in any case, I think “Goblin” really conveys the point better. Goblins don’t see the game as a reflection of reality. Goblins see the cold hard facts of the matter: This is a virtual playground. And mama, these little guys are here to play.

So hide your gear, hide your loot, and hide your virtual husbands. You don’t have to come and confess. We don’t even have to look for you. You’re just out there, doing crimes and drinking wine. You’re a goblin. Embrace it.

But, you know, remember that you can’t be a goblin in real life. Sorry(?).

8. The Completionist

Korok from Zelda BOTW
(Nintendo)

Must get all achievements … no matter the cost …

No, but seriously, I don’t quite know what to say about this type of player, because I am 100% the opposite of a completionist. I play a game until I get bored and want to do something else. I can’t imagine continuing to play the same game until I unlock every little ditty, get every achievement, find all the Korok seeds, etc. … I think it would actually break me. But I can only assume that the mental gratification of getting that 100% & Platinum trophy is euphoric, so kudos to you and your diligent perseverance!

9. The Goodie Two-Shoes

Dusa excitedly talking to Zagreus in Hades
(Supergiant)

We’ll end with one of my personal favorites, because this type is so funny to me, and because I’ve been known to dabble in digital brown-nosing myself. These guys will see an option to be good and immediately blank out any other alternative. They’ll bring Morrigan to Redcliffe and lose all of her affection points because they can’t help but act out of the goodness of their hearts. Did they need to rescue Bevin from the closet? Save the blacksmith’s daughter? Defend the town from undead? No, not at all, but they did because the idea of being anything other than perfectly virtuous was unthinkable to them.

It’s certainly an exhausting and frustrating way to play a game, but ultimately, getting a little fed up with the tedium of altruism tends to pay off for these guys more than the guilt of Goblining around. Oh what, you think you’re gonna do it this time? You think you’re gonna kill either Isolde or Connor instead of go all the way to the mage’s tower? Well good luck, Mr. Peanutbutter, you know your boyfriend Alistair is gonna chew you out and make you regret that decision for the next five real hours.

… So, what do you think? Are you any one of these types, or perhaps a mixup? Or did we leave any out of the mix? Share your thoughts in the comments!

(featured image: Toby Fox)

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Author

Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).

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