Four Kinds of People

It’s nice to have friends that know what your interested in. Santiago Gala recalled this delightful paper written in 1990 and then revised in 1996 about the different kinds of people who play in MUDs (i.e. multi-user online games, usually text based, often with an element of programming).

I found this entire paper just one long wonderful giggle fest! It’s particularly fun to overgeneralize it and map the four kinds of players the author outlines into other settings: communities, group forming, etc.

In brief it puts forth that there are three kinds of players in these online games: achievers, killers, socializers, and explorers.

  • Achievers: work to win the game and gain points and status.
  • Killers: use weapons to kill things, particularly other players
  • Socializers: build relationships with other folks.
  • Explorers: work to understand the game’s mechanisms.

He then maps those onto this little two dimensional space:


The paper is full of amusing lines. For example the socializers think the explorers are a lonely lot; while the killers would rather kill achievers v.s. socializers since there is no sport in killing socializers. The explorers find getting killed interesting.

I think I can see all these kinds in open source projects. But one thing about an open source project is that it tends to be oriented toward the world rather than the people; and hence tends to have more achievers and explorers.

He allows as some of the killers, i.e. those who strive to act upon people, aren’t killers but are instead helpers. I’ve seen some of those in open source projects as well.

Of course, only rarely does one of these amusing archetypes appear in a purebred form. Mixtures and variations over time are more typical.

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