Arcade Moon announced
Tactical Play

Diplomatic Play

First published (in full) on Chris Bateman’s blog, Only A Game on 16th February 2007

The landscape of personality that is mapped in Temperament Theory has a fourth region corresponding to the Idealist temperament, and we would thus expect to find a fourth play style: Diplomatic play. However, currently our research is not sufficiently developed to have any confidence as to what constitutes this play style, and more research is needed. It may be that Diplomatic play can be identified, but that it does not relate well to videogames, or it may be that there is no form of play which relates to the Diplomatic skill set (but this seems highly unlikely).

We can hypothesise as to what Diplomatic play might involve by looking at the skills that have been related to the Idealist temperament. Thus, we expect Diplomatic play to be involved in a process of unifying or harmonising through an abstractive process, and also to be rooted in communication and empathy. This relationship with communication (either the private communication of writing and art, or the public communication that takes place directly between people) suggests that Diplomatic play might be found more easily by examining multiplayer games, but it may also be difficult to separate from Extroverted play.

It is also possible, given the Idealist temperament’s relationship to narrative and metaphor, that certain forms of story play might be opportunities for Diplomatic play to be expressed. But since our current videogames are not especially good at supporting story play, this may be difficult to ascertain. An examination of tabletop role-play might be the best place to search for such a play style. We would expect a player expressing this play style in such a game to be enjoying resolving disputes and conflicts; given the general bias in most tabletop RPG play towards combat, an empirical study should easily show if there was a contrary form of play taking place in such games.


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I just completed the ultimate gaming survey which told me that Diplomatic is my strongest skill set, and I believe that is true.

In single player games, the potential isn't always there, but I love to cooperate with other characters (players or NPCs), resolve situations with non(or less)-violent options, learn multiple perspectives of story events by listening to the dialogue or pressing NPCs for every shred of dialogue they have.

In multiplayer games, I like cooperative play the most, and often participate in or help organize supporting roles -- even in the occasional FPS, where cover must be given to someone capturing a flag or spawn point -- or where cover is provided and someone needs to take the role of capturer (kind of filling in wherever I best serve the team goals) - by contrast I never play free-for-all type games.

In MMORPGs, I always spend most of my time in social circles, advancing my status through beneficial partnerships, and also participating in game politics and law enforcement if I am awarded the responsibility. I used to play a game which had an election system to basically elect Mods, and I enjoyed being one, and was relatively popular among the others, as well as among habitual rule-breakers and player-killers because of my even-handedness and understanding.

As far as analyzing tabletop RPG's - personally, I prefer running games as GM, which requires me to play both sides, and treat both equally. As a player in tabletop RPG's, I'm usually the one who keeps track of story elements and clues, and to roleplay and create mutually equitable situations with NPCs.

Diplomatic play certainly sounds like the right way to describe what I like to do.

Anyway, this article was written quite a while ago, and the idea of Diplomatic play may have already been well-conceived. But as a Diplomatic player, I realized a definition of the term immediately, so I thought I should share.

Thanks for the excellent survey and insights!

Jessica: thanks so much for posting this! We are still really unclear what to make of this implied style of play, and it's really interesting to read your account of it, which seems to broadly verify the concept.

Much appreciated!

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