MMORPG Players

I’m continuing to lay the groundwork for some of the thoughts I want to share about how I see computer games in general and MMORPG’s in specific. Today I thought I’d talk about my experience with MMORPG players and how to categorize them.

Let me start by acknowledging that trying to create buckets or stereotypes of people will almost always fail in the specific. Stereotypes are useful, however, in compartmentalizing and analyzing things. If I talk about PvE gamers, we know that we’re talking about people who on the whole prefer to play against computer controlled opponents. That doesn’t mean that someone who is in the PvE “bucket” would never fight in a PvP battle, it’s just a way to group players who have similar tendencies in how they play.

The groups I tend to use when I think about MMORPG players are:

  • Player-vs-Environment (PvE)
  • Player-vs-Player (PvP)
  • Casual
  • Dedicated
  • Solo Players
  • Group Members
  • Roleplayers
  • Social Gamers

For many of you, these terms are self-evident, but I’ll go ahead and define how I see them so that when I talk in coming days about PvE game design you’ll understand the types of players I’m talking about targeting.

Player-vs-Environment (PvE)

These players prefer to fight against computer (AI) controlled opponents rather than other players. They are usually highly focused on the quests and the storylines of an MMORPG.

Player-vs-Player (PvP)

PvP players like to test themselves against other players. They get a thrill out of competing against an opponent who thinks and acts unpredictably as opposed to AI controlled mobs which are known quantities with specific behaviors.


A casual player is someone who has more limited time for playing. Many times these are older players who have jobs, families, etc. which also require their time. They may be just as driven to succeed, reach the end-game, etc. as the Dedicated player. But they also know they don’t have large blocks of time to spend on the game every day.


I prefer the term “dedicated” to “hardcore” because the latter can have other connotations in how serious a player is about the game. A dedicated player will spend many hours a day / week in the game.

Solo Players

The solo player is often (but not always) a sub-category of the casual player. These people like to play MMORPGs because of the size and breadth of the game. But their adventuring time is typically spent on their own.

Group Members

Grouping players tend to login and immediately ask their guild or the “LFG” channel for teammates. They prefer to work with others, often because the more difficult goals (along with the richer rewards) in MMO’s are geared toward groups accomplishing things that individuals can’t on their own.


Roleplayers are people who like to play in-character. The term roleplaying can mean a variety of things to different people. For my purposes I’m going to a core definition that the player knows who their character is, they know their motivations, and they make an effort to play in-character at least in some situations.

Social Gamers

Social gamers are a different breed all together. Social gamers may login to the game for a month or more and never fight a mob or take on a quest. For them the game is their social gathering spot. They would prefer to sit with friends somewhere and talk or have their characters dance in a nightclub than to go out and fight something. At the same time, they enjoy the game world of an MMO. Which is why they don’t just sit in chat rooms somewhere outside of games.


Like I said when I started out these broad categories work to classify gamers as a population, but typically break down when you try to apply them to individual gamers. For example, I have been a “dedicated solo” player myself.


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