At least that’s what BrainHex says.
But what is BrainHex, you may ask. Well, BrainHex is a player satisfaction model developed by International Hobo which is a game design, narrative design, and script-writing consultancy. The games they worked on have collectively sold over 10 million unites and they are also responsible for 21st Century Game Design, Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames, and Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Towards Better Videogames.
According to their website, “BrainHex model depicts gameplay behavior in terms of seven key elements in the human nervous systems – the hippocampus and sensory cortices, the amygdala, epinephrine, norepinephrine, the orbito-frontal cortex, the hypothalamus, and the nucleus accumbens.” Through a series of videogame related questions, BrainHex determines your gamer class and each of the classes is associated with a particular play style. There are seven BrainHex classes in total—Seeker, Survivor, Daredevil, Mastermind, Conqueror, Socialiser, and Achiever.
Here’s a detailed description of the classes taken from the BrainHex website:
“Seeker (Seek): finding wonderful and curious things is what the Seeker enjoys. This stimulates the part of the brain that processes sensory information (the sensory cortices) as well as the memory association centres (hippocampus). This produces a chemical called endomorphin whenever we see something interesting or curious. The circle at the top of the icon thus represents this interest mechanism.
Survivor (Escape): some people hate feeling terror, but some people really enjoy the intense excitement of escaping from a terrifying threat. Fear is an experience produced by a particular part of the brain known as the amygdala. The large diamond to the left of the icon represents the amygdala, and the experience of fear.
Daredevil (Rush): this play style is all about the thrill of the chase, the excitement of risk taking and generally living on the edge. Excitement of any kind involves adrenalin, which is technically known as epinephrine. This is represented by the small diamond to the left of the icon, which is lit up for the Survivor, Daredevil and Conqueror classes, since these all involve excitement.
Mastermind (Solve): a fiendish puzzle that defies solution or a problem that requires strategy to overcome is the essence of fun to this class. Whenever we face puzzles or must devise strategies, the decision centre of the brain (the orbito-frontal cortex) is involved. This is represented by the square on the BrainHex icon. Because the decision centre is very closely tied to the reward centre (see below) the Mastermind class shows both the circles in the centre lit up (most other classes show only one circle in the centre lit up).
Conqueror (Defeat): some players aren’t satisfied with winning easily – they want to struggle against adversity and fight tooth and nail for victory. When we are up against impossible odds, the body produces both epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine. This latter chemical riles us up, gets us angry and motivated, and when we eventually earn victory the result is especially rewarding. It is represented by the small diamond on the right of the icon. Like the Mastermind, the rewards of struggling against adversity are particular intense so both circles in the centre are lit up in the Conqueror class icon.
Socialiser (Relate): people are fun to the Socialiser – they like talking to them, they like helping them, they like being around them. There is a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus which serves as the social centre of the brian. The hypothalamus is represented by the large diamond on the right of the icon. When relating positively with other people, a chemical known as oxytocin is produced from this region, which gives a feeling of unity. This in turn is rewarding, and hence the Socialiser icon also has one of the centre circles lit up.
Achiever (Collect): the Achiever is the most goal-oriented of all the classes, and players who enjoy this play style will collect and complete everything they can find – no grind is too arduous for such a player! All the individual classes involve the pleasure centre (nucleus accumbens) which is shown in the centre of the BrianHex icon as a double-line circle. Three of the patterns – Mastermind, Conqueror and Achiever – have both of the circles lit up to show that they are especially rewarding, and hence addictive. All the others have a single circle lit up in the centre.”
After going through the BrainHex test, I was classified as Conqueror, with a subclass of Conqueror – Mastermind.
Here is the breakdown of my test results:
I was told that I “like defeating impossibly difficult foes, struggling until you eventually achieve victory, and beating other players as well as solving puzzles and devising strategies.According to your results, there are few play experiences that you strongly dislike.”
That’s pretty accurate. The Daredevil’s thrill of the chase leaves me almost completely cold and while I can get obsessed with something, I am usually not bothered by any sort of collection or completion challenges like an Achiever. I typically do not enjoy horror games or movies and the last Survivor type of game I played was Left for Dead 2 which I enjoyed a lot, but not because of the survival aspect, but mainly due to the collaboration with others (which is reflected in Socialiser value). I do like exploration and the joy of discovery—the open worldness of one of my favorite games, Dark Souls, being the perfect example—but in general I prefer strong narrative and story driven games.
All the top three values of Conqueror, Mastermind and Socialiser are spot on. Conqueror enjoys “defeating impossibly difficult foes, struggling until eventually achieving victory, and beating other players”. Dark Souls comes to mind again, as does Call of Duty, Starcraft, or DOTA 2. DOTA 2 is first and foremost a team game in which working together is absolutely crucial to achieve a victory. Guess what – that is exactly what a Socialiser likes. Finally, with the traditional point-and-click adventure games (such as Monkey Island, Gabriel Knight, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, or Quest for GloryDune 2, Warcraft 3, World in Conflict, or R.U.S.E) being two of my three most favorite games genre, the high score in the Mastermind class comes hardly as a surprise. (In case you were curious, my third favorite game genre is RPG).
The test was a good fun and I encourage you to take it (if you do, please do share your results in the comments below!). But more importantly the BrainHex model provides a very useful classification of gameplay experiences and helps a game designer better understand his or her audience. Is the game you are working on primarily a Seeker game? If so, what type of challenges should you include? What type of activities? What type of rewards? Furthermore, knowing who your core audience is and what they enjoy also directly translates into your business model and marketing efforts once the game is published. If your game is for Seekers, what type of marketing activities can you come up with that will talk most to this audience? What should be the content of your advertisements? Which aspects of the game should you highlight? Can you base your revenue model around things Seekers like to do?