Your Nit-Picky, Paranoid Playstyle Teaches Civilization's Creator How to Make Games

Illustration for article titled Your Nit-Picky, Paranoid Playstyle Teaches emCivilization/ems Creator How to Make Games

For as long as there've been video games, there've been attempts to classify the various types of people who play them. It's a bit of a parlor game that reveals bits of human behavior. What do you call the person who tries to parse a game's inner workings? Legendary designer Sid Meier's coined his own categories and says that each personality type can help creators figure out various aspects of games they're working on.


So, the Civilization creator says the take-no-prisoners Mr. Kick-Butt is great for testing difficulty levels. All he cares about is winning and see the hardest settings for a game as the challenge most worthy of his skills. Ms. Genre, on the other hand, is defined by all-consuming love of specific genres but any deviations from that category will generate complaints. However, the feedback from a Ms. Genre would be useful for understanding genre conventions, just how far to stretch them and where to break them completely.

Then you have Mr. MinMax, Meier offered. He needs to understand every algorithm in a game and how to squeeze out every possible benefit the These behavioral proclivities can let a designer understand how players engage with a game's mechanics, since Mr. Minmax tries to reverse-engineer a game and find advantages in exploiting the way it works.


Ms. Paranoid's behavior is self-explanatory, and she's always convinced that a game is rigged against her. This type of player thinks that the computer knows her moves before she even makes them and the entire experience is stacked in the game's favor. The lessons learned from Ms. Paranoid, Meier says, are how to let players know when they're getting the better of the game.

Gamers of the Mr. History archetype are incessant fact-checkers who want to pull apart the architecture of a game's fiction and point out plot holes and errors. So, make sure that architecture's tight, says Meier. Mr. Bubble Boy remembers only one bad part of a game and that memory becomes the whole experience. Coming to grips with this personality type is useful for learning how to present setbacks in a less hostile way.

The Firaxis CEO also talked about run-ins with people who have another game in mind that they wish you would've made. He call this type Mr. Designer and offered that the only real lesson such a person could teach is in setting expectations.

Meier said that he spends as much time playing the games he works on as he does coding or programming but didn't divulge which personality type he falls into. I'm thinking he's a Mr. MinMax all the way.

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Fernando Jorge

As a Mr. MinMax I wish every game had detailed manuals that made damage formulas explicit. It kind of annoys me that important info is kept from the player... sometimes it is barely made clear. How many times have I gave up on using the most effective equipment because I didn't have the patience to test how a weaker but faster gun could be better than a stronger but slower gun.

Just show me all the formulas.