The Four H's: Type-casting RPG Gamers

The Four H's: Type-casting RPG Gamers

True Role-Playing Gamers are a unique breed...well, four unique breeds.


ole-playing games are a special classification of escapist fantasy, for a special niche audience of gamers. Sure, you can pick up a copy of Call of Duty and slog it out for hours with friends and complete strangers. However, the narrative is only as long as it takes to finish a multiplayer map, and the payoff is in the K/D spread, or the item unlocks. Battle gaming is a sitcom, easily digestible in small, convenient chunks. Likewise Civilization, Starcraft, and other simulator games put you in the driver seat, but the only narrative arch is what you find in dominating other civilizations. The payoff is in their destruction, and when you’re finally king, it’s time to start over with a different group.

Role-playing games (at least those done well) give people an arch to the story that provides an engrossing experience that isn’t easily set aside, and payoffs that only come after hours (sometimes days) of grinding away at plot points and side quests. It takes a very specific kind of gamer to truly appreciate and, more importantly, finish RPGs. There are a few stock types that you’ll find in the MMO’s and on chatboards, and I’ll attempt to identify them here.

1)    The Hacker – This person grabs an RPG with the express purpose of making it his or her bitch. They’re going to test every nook and cranny of the designers environments, exploit every possible bug and design flaw. These are the people that post YouTube videos on how to max out skills within the first 30 minutes of the game. Want to know how to quickly raise $1 million gold without actually doing anything useful in game? These are your people.

2)    The Hoarder – This person plays RPGs to accumulate. They want points, gold, skills, unlocks, and even just random crap laying around the game world. Elders Scrolls, in particular, is a Hoarders paradise, with so many random, sortable and savable items in their game world. Even better? You can buy a house to store all of your crap! You can buy five houses! Intervention anyone?

3)    The Hero – This person plays the RPG for the story. Let’s face it, there are no Live-Action Role Play sessions going on tonight, your buddy has refused to Dungeon Master another tabletop game unless people start showing up regularly (which you have), and you’ve already seen the entire Game of Thrones 1st season six times. So you spend your Friday night (all 12 hours of it) immersing yourself in Dragon Age or Skyrim or World of Warcraft. You follow the story and decide on your role in it, you strike meaningful poses, and you look at your character a lot. These are the guys that will only save their game if it’s going to provide a nice screen-shot when they load it up again.

4)    The Hype – This person bought the game because they saw a kick-ass preview of it, or there was a write-up about it online. They played it for 20 minutes, died seven times, and have already sold it back to the shop to pick up the new version of Sims.