Quantic Foundry — the game research institute co-founded by Nick Yee, and not to be confused with Quantic Dream maker of games with sad robots — has a Gamer Motivation profile survey thinger. Your profile is free, but of course the data is then onsold in aggregate to other interested parties.

Should that not bother you it’s an interesting little insight piece. Angie of Backlog Crusader tagged me into giving this one a go. Turns out though that like Wilhelm, I’ve done this in the past. Unlike Wilhelm I apparently didn’t bother to save a profile when I did, so I can’t offer a direct comparison against my old results. Boo.

Action-Oriented, Proficient, Ambitious, and Social

So describes my Gamer Motivation Profile as it stands, September 1st 2019.

I like such a stupidly wide array of games and genres I was pretty curious how this would come out. The ratings provided as a percentile — i.e., a 70% percentile in Action means there are 30% of respondents who rate action more highly in importance than I do.

But more interestingly, and insightful is the next level down — the secondary motivators which drive the primary. Second thing of note: The 12 secondary motivators are a spectrum, or continuum and so can be read in two directions. I’ll get to this a bit later.

Still! I was surprised at just how high the ‘Destruction’ metric ranked in the secondary motivators. To such an extent I went back over the questions asked and answered to see if I could tell where it was coming from.

But as I went through… I remembered I put Just Cause 2 as one of my favourite games as all time. And that there is a question on whether or not you like being an agent of chaos to which I said, ‘Oh yes, very much.’

But like Wilhelm noted in his commentary on the survey — it’s all very contextual. In a Just Cause game of course I adore it. The open world fully destructible sandbox is essentially the full allure. It certainly isn’t the voice acting or the story.

But if the question is meant more specifically as do I enjoy being an agent of chaos in just any ol’ game? Then no! Not so much. I didn’t adjust my answer for now despite perhaps being a little unclear on the intent here, but thought it worth a call out.

Terminology of ‘Achievement’

As a top level category I object to how ‘Achievement’ seemed to be defined around hunting down all collectables or 100%ing a game. Yuck.

Who has time for that?

But I still like doing things that have some sense of meaning. Downing a raid boss, doing something in an unusual or more difficult way. If I’m also being rewarded with a dopamine inducing pop-up saying, ‘Yay you! We see you there — doing the thing!’ then even better.

But that’s not really what they are talking about.

You can see the spectrum descriptions for all categories here.

When you break down the two sub-motivation spectra that forms the Achievement category, it at least starts to make a little more sense on why my rating is where it is — even if the word choice still makes me quirk a brow.

My sub-results for ‘Achievement’.


Wrap Up

If you want to check your own Gaming Motivation profile so you can either sit in awe of its accuracy or nitpick terminology *cough*, you can do so here.

I already linked this above, but if you want to check a little more into the detail of the twelve motivation spectrum used to drive the six top level ‘primary’ motivators, you can find that here.

And finally, while a little dated being from back in 2016, Nick Yee did a talk on creation of the model, how it was started and some of the refinements and findings to that point. The clustering effect — whether I like the terminology or not — is quite real and extremely fascinating.


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.


Bhagpuss · September 1, 2019 at 7:46 pm

I’ve done this test in the past and found it all but useless. I don’t know who formats it but just look at that last screenshot. Does it make any logical sense at all?

Assuming that it reads horizontally, with each entry being a corrolary of the others on the same band, on what planet is “Dragon Nest” an example of “Self Driven” gameplay where you decide what to do for yourself in “sandbox/open gameplay”? Has the person who wrote that even seen someone play Dragon Nest, let alone played it themselves?

Dragon Nest is a great game but it’s a purely linear progression in which you play an all-but pre-made character. (You have a full backstory which is revealed to you by NPCs as you play. ). Progression is via a series of instances which you have to complete in order to open the next. It’s the very definition of “on rails”. It’s entirely “static”. It meets all the definitions given in the band it’s not on!

Compared to DN, World of Warcraft, on the opposite band, even in it’s Live form, is open, with huge opportunities for self-directed gameplay. How anyone can take the results of a test seriously with a gross error like this in the definition beats me!

Even more insane is the final box in that panel. According to Quantic, self-driven sandbox/open gameplay is defined by completing tasks and quests and collecting stars and trophies, while “Flat progression” sees you begin with “Full developed characters from the start”, which also “start weak and grind” to “Level up character/stats”. Those are mutually exclusive concepts! A character can’t start out as “Fully developed” and yet “start weak” and progress from there. It’s nonsense.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. Look at the single word definitions in the middle box. The lower band is defined as “Growth”. Again, how can your character “grow” if it starts out “fully developed”? Did no-one sense-check this stuff before they put it online? I also take issue with “Completion” as a one-word summary of a playstyle defined elsewhere as deciding waht to do for yourself. What if I decide I want to start a load of things and drop them when I lose interest, rarely completing anything, which is exactly how I play all games of any kind? “Completion” would seem to me to be almost the antithesis of playing a “sandbox” game.

Innacurate (to be generous) definitions presumably lead to inaccurate results. Doesn’t really matter so long as Quantic harvest the data they need, I guess. They’ve been going for a long time so it must be working for them.

    Naithin · September 1, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    The line does run horizontal, but it is indicating spectrums running from one end to the complete opposite, other. So let’s take the ‘Completion’ line as our starting example (and put aside for the fact I think this might be a poor word choice for the line, possibly leading to some of the confusion here):

    On the far left end of that spectrum is the essentially saying ‘I am not motivated by completion’, and how that shows up in games is a tendency to show a preference for games that allow you to decide what to do for yourself and set your own goals.

    Examples of THAT gameplay type being RimWorld, Kerbal Space Program, etc.

    On the far right end of that spectrum is where the respondent has indicated, ‘I am strongly motivated by completion’, and this tends to show up as a preference for set tasks they can complete, or a set of tangible objects to go after (e.g., stars and trophies) — of which, like you mentioned, Dragon’s Nest is a good example of with a linear quest to follow.

    The second spectrum of Power (or Growth):

    Left side: ‘I’m not motivated by growth’ — therefore give me fully developed characters.
    Right side: ‘I love to feel growth in power when I play’ — therefore give me a weak start and let me power up as I go. e.g., WoW.

    Hopefully that clarifies it a bit!

Bhagpuss · September 2, 2019 at 2:41 am

Ah! Thanks for setting me straight on that. No wonder it didn’t make any sense! I was basically reading it backwards! Or inside out. Probably should have had a coffee before I looked at it. It’s fairly clear when you bother to read the heading, which I didn’t.

Apologies to Quantic. I still think the test is unlikely to tell you very much about yourself, though, based on the thing everyone always points out, which is that the questions expect a level of conformity that many respondents won’t exhibit in normal gameplay. I guess it gives you some kind of generalized baseline, but if what you mostly do is break the pattern becasue you’re highly mood or whim based I’m not sure how helpful that can be.

All tests of this type do that to a degree, though. The ones I’ve done that attempt to avoid it are insanely detailed which is a problem in itself.

    Naithin · September 2, 2019 at 7:25 am

    “I still think the test is unlikely to tell you very much about yourself, though…”

    Agree. This is not a ‘why you game’ which could have been personally interesting, I think, and instead focuses on preferred play styles — which I think most of us aren’t really going to be much surprised by the results of.

    This is far more of interest as a data set to the researchers and their clients than us, still, I’m keen to have my own preferences in there to try even slightly to shift the data set toward things better for me. Although frankly I’m pretty easy to please. ;)

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