Kae at Dreambound with the help of Nertok has been running a survey of the personality types of Warcraft players. The instrument they are using to measure personality type is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This attracted the Innkeeper's eye because she happens to know that her Bartender, when not spilling mead all over the customers, has a great deal of professional experience with MBTI and Jungian psychology. As all employees know, when your boss e-mails you and says, "it might be a good idea" this means "do it now or you're fired." But I don't mind the task because it will keep her distracted and not notice that the barkeep is into the goods (if you follow my (hic!) drift) and that this is the real reason yours truly spells tips as "tits".
Since it's tradition in the MBTI community to always reveal your type when talking about type, I'm an INTJ. This post assumes you know what those letters mean as it's beyond the limited space here to introduce the whole theory of the MBTI.
The first note I want to sound is a note of caution. The MBTI is an instrument and like all instruments it's only as useful as the competency of the person who wields it. A person's MBTI result is frequently an inaccurate description of their true personality type because responses to the questions are subject to cultural, social, and age-related influences. The MBTI should always be used as a starting point; not treated as a final answer. The single biggest confounding factor in any web based survey using the MBTI is the reality that there is no way to tell if the person is recording their genuine personality type; professional assistance is required.
Despite this caution about the accuracy of type identification, the results recorded by Kae and Nertok are for the most part what Jungian theory would predict. If you had asked me prior to reading the results who most role-playing gamers are I would have said the dominant type would be an INTJ. Certainly IN. Everything about on-line gaming screams INTJ for the same reason that this type dominates in research, academia, and the law. It's a quiet activity where individuals can use their analytical skills to create systems that push the boundaries of the possible. The concept of an ordered progression (gear levels, class levels) is what we mean by judging (J). That data is taken in and manipulated analytically (think Elitist Jerks) is what we mean by thinking (T). That this activity takes place in an imagined space is part of what we mean by intuition (N). That this activity takes place in a space of limited extroverted interaction is part of what is meant by introversion (I). The common remark that INTJs are the unusual combination of imagination (N) and reliability (J) is well illustrated by reputation grinds, dailies, dps rotations. Once they find something that strikes their imagination they just want to do it over and over again, sometimes well past the time that is healthy. Alexander the Great (ENTJ) raided Persia; Napoleon Bonaparte (ENTJ) raided Russia; INTJs raid Ulduar.
As this table shows, the overwhelming majority of the respondents are introverted or intuitive and of the top five types three are introverted intuitives. Interestingly, the top two introverted personality types are the INTP and the ISTP. Both of these types are actually dominant thinkers and secondarily intuitives. The two dominant intuitives are the INFJ and the INTJ. The poor representation of the INFJ and the middling representation of the INTJs suggest that Warcraft is less of a game for people with imagination than it is for people who think. With the lone exception of the INFP, all the top introverted types use thinking as their dominant or secondary function. This makes perfect sense if you consider that most of the community around the game is based upon sites that emphasizes the usefulness of data (Wowhead, Thottbot) or thinking through the possibilities in data. Elitist Jerks is a beautiful example of the INTP personality writ large.
To those who don't know much about how Jungian personality types work the popularity of the ENFJ might seem a real outlier. But ENFJ is the description of the extroverted type that is most interested in exploring the values of others in the world. They are the prototypical socials that Gevlon likes to deplore; the ones who want everyone to win; the ones who will sell their Runed Orb for 10g to help out the guy around the corner. I would also guess the type most likely to be casual players as Warcraft would be only one of the many activities they do. For reasons to complex to get into here, I would also suspect that they are almost entirely under age 30. ENFJ are also a very popular type in fields like career counseling and I suspect that their dominance in the results also comes from seeing the MBTI advertised. They are one of the extroverted types most interested in personality, although almost always another's personality and never their own.
One aspect of the data I found puzzling is the Feelers. Role playing gaming is intrinsically structured imagination; it's not a feeling activity at all. So while the absence of the ENFP is to be expected, the presence of a large number of INFP respondents is remarkable. The American cultural female stereotype is INFP. It's possible that many of these players are women brought into the game by their boyfriends to do the traditional female role of healing. There's some support for this in the fact the data shows that most of the feelers are in classes that have a healing role (Druid, Paladin, Shaman) and that feelers shy away from the classes known for tanking (Warriors, Death Knight). In other words, the feelers are not into the game as an end in itself but as a way to support their feelings about others. This theory is further buttressed by the almost complete lack of any sensing feelers in the game. It would be most illuminating to know where those INFPs came from and their sex. If they were American women then boyfriends is reasonable answer. If they are not, it's an interesting development warranting further research.
Kae's and Nertok results are right in line with what Jungian type theory would predict about who plays role-playing computer games: introverted intuitives and introverted thinkers. The top four types (baring the ENJF) are the INTP, INFP, ISTP, and INTJ all of which are either primary/secondary thinkers or primary/secondary intuitives. The results so far suggest that thinking types are dominate but a surprising large numbers of intuitive feelers, most likely drawn to the game in support of their feelings about others. In particular, the involvement of the INFP in Warcraft is an area warranting future investigation.
1 week ago