What Makes Gamers Tick?


Gamers are fickle beings. The gaming community is among some of the worst social communities. These communities have the tendency to erupt at the smallest tick, when a gaming decision that is out of their control does not go their way. Not only that, games in general have their own ideas that can mesh or cause friction with their audiences.

The team at Quantic Foundry developed a model, one they call The Gamer Motivation Profile, to be able to test out new features that fans want in games, based on responses filed in a survey. The study suggested that the number of “factors” that emerged across three different regions was identical. By using a factor analysis, they were able to test survey inventory and improve existing scales, or modify theory based on gamer input.

The study is actually quite fascinating. The team at Quantic Foundry tested 12 different factors and then tested them to see how they related to each other, using a dendrogram. The dendrogram collects the 12 factors as individual hierarchies and then a calculation algorithm clusters them together based on similarity.


The twelve categories cluster together as shown above, with a breakdown as follows:

Immersion: Gamers favor ideas such as customization, settings control, and engaging narratives that allow for deep immersion. Correlates with fantasy and stories.

Creativity: Tailoring of a gaming experience to the gaming world; correlated to design and discovery.

Action: Gamers that seek to jump into the fray and enjoy being surrounded by chaos. Correlates to destruction and excitement.

Social: Gamers that enjoy interaction with other players or surrounding environments. Correlates with competition and community

Mastery: Games that favor strategic depth and complex decision making. Correlation to challenges and strategy.

Achievement: A tier that goes hand in hand with those that enjoy collecting, accrue rare items, powers, etc. Correlated to completion and power.

The study is unique for me because it’s the first time I’ve seen gaming be classified in hierarchies and through the use of computational algorithms. It takes a subjective idea and finds ties that enumerate the motivations of gamers. It does have a few weak spots that could be ironed out in future models, but this idea definitely is an intriguing one that could help analysts get a little bit into the heads of their consumers and fans.