The (Gaming) Gods Must Be Crazy
Positive Game Design

BrainHex: How Do You Play Videogames?

BrainHex International Hobo is proud to announce the launch of its new audience model and player survey, BrainHex. This model is the culmination of several years of work, examining data from previous surveys and comparing case studies to the latest neurobiological research.

You can take the BrainHex test yourself and learn about how your brain responds to videogames, while helping us further our research into how and why people play games.

You can also go straight to the BrainHex site and learn about the different classes in this new player satisfaction model.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the alpha and beta testing of the model, and to everyone who takes the test and contributes to this new study.

Please feel free to pass the test link on to anyone who might be interested! Thank you!


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I can't agree with any of the options for "attitude to videogame stories". In some kinds of games (adventures, RPGs) I find stories to be the absolute most important thing, but in other kinds of games (platformers, strategy) I find their presence irritating or worse. So I'm saying "stories can help me enjoy a game", but that's only occasionally true.

Yeah, that's the thing. I'll play a different type of game depending what I feel like, and I'll enjoy different things in different types of game. I do play a wide range of games. Particular games can also be more interesting if the genre is a sparsely populated one, or when good games of that type are rare.

Forget that, what was with the absurd "Cat or dog?" question.

Oh right, the test.

I got Conqueror-Daredevil.

For exceptions I got:

No Mercy: You rarely if ever care about hurting other players' feelings - mercy is for the weak! - This makes me sound like some kind of prick :(

No Fear: You do not enjoy feeling afraid, preferring to feel safe or in control. - Yeah, if I see a terrifying foe I want to defeat it, not run away from it!

I got Daredevil-Seeker, but I feel like the only reason I was placed that way was because of the very last set of questions, where I had to say what I preferred. And that was a really tough question. If I had the option, most of those would be given an equal number. But I wasn't given the option. Daredevil and Seeker weren't significantly higher numbers for me than most of the other classifications.

Thanks for the discussion everyone! Here are a few quick thoughts...

Mory: the narrative in games question has not changed from the previous survey - if you'd come to me with your issues a few years ago, we could have improved the question this time around! :)

Oh well... As I'm sure you appreciate, it's very difficult to get general categories for these kind of things, but statistical research requires that we make specific distinctions. I will certainly consider your issue for the next survey.

Sirc: well believe it or not, we found statistically significant differences in play style based on people's pet preferences! This sounds crazy, but statistics can be a lot like that - I imagine some hidden variable accounts for the distinction. I included it again in this survey to see if we found the same statistically significant patterns this time around.

(Originally, I included this question in an earlier survey because I was interested in seeing if Myers-Briggs type preference correlated with pet preference; I wasn't expecting to find play style correlations in connection with it!)

Sirc: this description of you sounds like the way you write about your play. :) How do you feel about it? Sound like you at all?

And I'm curious: do you care about hurting other player's feelings...? You're certainly happy to dump on other people's favourite games without concern of hurting their feelings! :p

Mory: if your scores all came out at a similarly high value you might be an "all rounder". We got a few of these in DGD2 as well - players so into play that they didn't type very well. Obviously the class designations at the end are only intended to give the respondent a sense of how they tested - if you can see that your numbers are close, you should feel free to think of yourself more as an "all rounder" player in terms of this test.

Anyone else what to share their results and thoughts?

Chris, read your Beyond Game Design book. Very interesting theory you have there about brain areas correlating to Roger Caillois' gameplay types. I am not sure about this brain hex model though. It's a tough claim that these mainly sociological findings should relate to neurobiological measures. I do EEG player research and would find it interesting to check the correlation of your questionnaire with brainwave activity. Let me know if there is a way to use your questionnaire in one of my studies or even some of your data. Thanks!

I assume the comments/designated types are purely based on the scores?

My scores (bearing in mind that in about 30% of questions I could have just as validly chosen another option so may do differently on another day):

Mastermind: 19
Conqueror: 16
Socialiser: 14
Seeker: 12
Survivor: 10
Daredevil: 10
Achiever: 3

I think that with a snippet of code to display results, this could become the next LJ test that folk annoy others by promoting... ;-)

Anyway, I mainly just posted to say that I wanted to retry the test today and see if there was any difference but it seems to be offline (timing out).

P.S. I hypothesise that the reason Mory didn't point out that issue before was that the previous test was longer so it didn't seem as (relatively) big a factor?

The old tests certainly seemed longer...

Or maybe it's just that there were loads of problems before in his eyes and the test's actually relatively simple and fun to take now.

Sorry, Mory. I don't mean to speak for you.

Haha, you should've put in an answer like "Hellll no, I hate all animals except the ones I can eat!" I would've chosen it.

And that's a good question... do I care about hurting other players' feelings. I think first we have to define what we mean by other players, because that's a lot more specific than just saying people.

If we're talking players as in someone you play a game with, we could look at the classic example of what you say to someone after playing online with them. It's pretty common for someone to say something like "u gay fag" or "noob u hav no skill" etc etc (usually after they lose). I would never do that, so in that sense I guess I do care about hurting other players' feelings. Though admittedly I'm not sure anyone's feelings could actually be hurt (and if they are, it's negligible) by stupid online comments from strangers like that.

About my blasting on other peoples' favorite games, come on. If someone's feelings are hurt just because I didn't like a game they need to stop being such a pussy.

So yeah, I guess I only care insofar as hurting other players directly. If they're hurt by things that aren't even directed at them, such as saying I don't like a certain game, then I don't really care.

I really like this new player model - it combines the best of Bartle's types, Meyers-Briggs and astrology (you know, the animals for each type). :)

I'm a Seeker-Socialiser, which was quite an eye-opening revelation for me. I knew I was an Explorer kind of person, but I'm also introverted, so it wasn't until recently that I realized I'm also a Socialiser. But I am. It all makes sense now. How liberating. :) Thank you!

Anyway, I started a thread on the Mochi forums to see what the Flash game developer community thinks of this model. (click my name for the link)

It's gotten quite a response in a short amount of time - an encouraging sign, I think. :) I thought it interesting to note that almost everyone who responded there had either a Conqueror or Mastermind aspect or both. Hmmm...

axcho: I posit that introverts are more likely to feel more comfortable socialising on the internet. I know I certainly am!

Lennart: how marvellously synchronous - Alessandro Cannossa and Anders Drachen were about to put me in contact with you! :)

I agree with you that there is a bold claim embedded in the assumption of being able to track these findings directly through to the brain - but of course my work in this regard must be understood as hypothetical. It absolutely needs testing, of course, and I fully expect that testing will reveal something different other than the hypothesis - but isn't that how these fields usually progress? :)

Alessandro is supposed to be putting us in touch - happy to co-operate with you in some way... I would be delighted to put the model to the test; even if it were completely disproved I'm certain we would find something interesting! Hope to speak to you soon over email.

Bezman: yes, you are correct - the classes are simply the two highest scoring classes. You scored quite low in Achiever - may I then ask: do you complete most of the games you play? Or do you sample more games than you finish?

Sirc: "About my blasting on other peoples' favorite games, come on. If someone's feelings are hurt just because I didn't like a game they need to stop being such a pussy."

And thus it certainly seems to me that you *don't* care about hurting other people's feelings. :p

axcho: Glad you like the test!

"I thought it interesting to note that almost everyone who responded there had either a Conqueror or Mastermind aspect or both. Hmmm..."

Well "Mastermind" corresponds to T in Myers-Briggs which we've already shown correlates strongly with game designers, and I have unconfirmed evidence that "Conqueror" is disproportionately common among game developers. Thanks for letting me know about this bias in that particular sample group!

Although we haven't tabulated any of the new data yet, in the Beta testing Seeker was the most popular class and Conqueror was second to bottom (Survivor was the least common).

Katherine: "I posit that introverts are more likely to feel more comfortable socialising on the internet. I know I certainly am!"

I agree! I believe this explains why the majority of MMO players test introvert in Myers-Briggs: it's a "safe" opportunity to explore being extrovert, without all the social anxiety of the real thing.

Thanks for the comments everyone!

I definitely sample more than I complete. Don't most people?

Having said that, a game can definitely 'get under my skin' and get me invested in progressing further and further down a near-endless rabbit hole, often having to endure the sort of grind I hate.

Namely, I've played a lot of Kingdom of Loathing and Gemcraft despite finding neither game all that enjoyable on its own merits.

For the record, I retook the test. Here are my scores:
Mastermind: 19
Daredevil: 17
Survivor: 14
Conqueror: 14
Socialiser: 12
Seeker: 8
Achiever: 6

"Well "Mastermind" corresponds to T in Myers-Briggs which we've already shown correlates strongly with game designers, and I have unconfirmed evidence that "Conqueror" is disproportionately common among game developers. "

Darn... and I was hoping I'd be bringing in a unique mindset... :-/

Bezman: "I definitely sample more than I complete. Don't most people?"

Statistically, yes - a study conducted a few years back now put the proportion at less than a third of players completing most of their games.

But I asked since in principle low Achievement scores should correspond with "sample not complete" and vice versa.

Best wishes!

I don't know why I didn't raise an objection to the story question the first time 'round. To be honest, I don't really remember anything about that test.

An unsurprising Conqueror-Mastermind!


The questions I struggled on were the choice between:
* Multiplayer, in the same room
* Multiplayer, over the internet
since I really enjoy both equally. I went for "in the same room" I think, because it would be even better, but the internet is an excellent substitute, and at times better for some games.

I also didn't like the "Responding quickly to an exciting situation" question, as I suspect you're getting at the fun of 'twitch'/reaction skills in a game ie: dexterity tests in a fighting game, FPS, or shooter or something of that ilk. But what someone considers 'quickly' and what someone considers 'exciting situation' could vary very drastically depending on their preconceptions.

Rik: yes, this was one of a handful of questions which gave us great difficulty with the wording. It was changed many, many times before we settled on the final version. I don't think this one will ever be perfect.

The problem is that to make this one explicit also ties it to a particular game context, which narrows its meaning.

But it's definitely one of the problem questions.

Thanks for mentioning this!

is it possible to receive a copy of the test? I'm writing my phd thesis about gamification and your model would fit perfect.

Hi Korbinian,
Yes, you can use the test kit for academic purposes. At PhD level, however, this instrument may not be robust enough for your purposes (there isn't a better option, it's just a flaw in this kind of instrument).

Use the contact link to request the test kit - you should get it within two weeks.



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