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Myers-Briggs-Blizz, Part 1: The Primer

September 30, 2011

Dear Reader,

As promised, I’m going to be using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to take a look at WoW in various ways.  I’ve conceived this as a 3 part series; today, we’re going to look at the eight qualities measured by the Myers-Briggs, then over the next two correspondences, we’ll look at the sixteen combinations, some real world people who fit them, some WoW NPCs who fit them (when I can come up with any), and some various play styles that might utilize them.  To be fair and give a quasi-citation, most of this comes from my own ed psych background, my wife’s work, and a bit of a refresher on … yes… Wikipedia (ugh – but it’s not much, I swear!).  So without further ado:

Myers-Briggs-Blizz Personality Dichotomies

Attitude: Introvert v. Extravert

The first dichotomy measured by Myers-Briggs was whether a person was more turned inwardly, or introverted, or turned outwardly, or extraverted.  An introvert prefers to spend time alone with their thoughts, preferring deeper relations and more substantial interactions with others.  An extravert is the opposite.  They prefer to spend time with others, having frequent interactions with a broad variety of people.  They prefer knowing a little about a lot of things than pursuing deep knowledge, and they are far more action oriented.

The game applications here are obvious, and WoW does a great job of catering to both types of player.  There is a ton of solo content for introverts as well as very deep encounters requiring a substantial relationship (hours of practice) with others.  Guilds, too, can cater to introverts by providing a place to foster deep relationships with others.  Theorycrafting, too, is an excellent place for introverts as it requires extremely deep thinking, experimenting and confirming, all of which require depth of knowledge rather than breadth.

On the other side, WoW is great for Extraverts for some of the same reasons.  Guilds, for example, can cater to extraverts as well by providing them with a platform to meet a lot of people.  There’s a broad variety of experiences in WoW available for extraverts to dip their toes in, sample, and move on.  Extraverts can become experts in the basics of each class with their excellent breadth of knowledge, though they may not know every talent point in every tree.  WoW, then caters very well to both.

Information Gathering: Sensing v. Intuition

The next dichotomy in the MBTI is the way in which we gather information.  The first category, sensing, is all about the dataz.  A sensing individual wants concrete information able to be readily perceived by the senses.  They don’t like hunches, gut-feelings, or guesses.  On the other hand, a intuitive individual trusts more in broad patterns than hard data.  They trust their gut, and when inspiration strikes, they follow it.

Once again, WoW does a good job relating to both types of players.  Sensing players have a lot of data available, though often not directly from Blizzard, but from the community that surrounds it.  They can check dps meters, raid logs, go to a variety of informational websites like WoWhead, Tankspot, or Elitist Jerks.  There are many, many math-filled forums around from which they can glean hard data and irrefutable proof of which talent point in the third tier of the druid resto tree is best – nature’s swiftness or living seed (I never remembered to use NS in time for it to be useful.  LS all the way.)?

On the other hand, bosses can’t be downed with just math (at least, not any more), and it’s necessary for the intuitive players to look at the overall boss mechanics and see the pattern involved.  Intuition plays a huge role in creating boss strategies, looking for weaknesses in monsters, or exploitable environmental features (anyone remember that nook you could drag Prince into where no infernals fell – someone had to have a gut feeling about that spot).  These players don’t worry as much about recount or EJ but go with their gut about whether to spec into Ancestral Swiftness or Telluric Currents (it’s really a question of whether or not you need more mana).  Once again, then, WoW’s great for both, though the community may be harsher to the intuitive crowd from an efficiency standpoint.

Decision Making: Thinking v. Feeling

The third dichotomy of the MBTI is how we make decisions.  Thinking individuals prefer to look at things from an emotional distance, objectively, and make decisions based on the most reasonable outcome.  They aren’t actually smarter, you see, but they may seem more cool and calculating.  The feeling individuals can come to just as rational of a decision, but the way they reach that decision is far more subjective.  They work from the inside of situations, looking at variables including people’s feelings, the need for fairness, and the emotional outcome of the group as a whole.

In WoW, there is room for both of these types of players, but the simple fact is that most end game content is tuned to the thinkers.  Raids and rated BGs have to have carefully crafted groups, and often when there’s too many sign ups, people’s feelings have to be hurt by a thinking leader to make sure the groups can function efficiently.  Raid leaders need to have this quality because there will always be players who get benched at some point, and the leaders need to be able to do so without letting their own emotions get in the way of their decision making process.

That’s not to say there’s no place for feeling players, but often their role will be as an officer, the person sent in to smooth out guildie differences or to put a benched players’ ego to ease.  There’s plenty of other content for feelers, too, but the end game content must be approached from a more detached standpoint.  Here is at least one place where WoW discriminates to some extent, though only really from the end game perspective.

Lifestyles: Judging v. Perceiving

The final dichotomy covers whether individuals prefer to come to final decisions or leave their options open.  Judging individuals prefer to close matters with finality, whereas perceiving indivuduals prefer to wait and see.  These lifestyle choices are heavily influenced by the previous two dichotomies, with a level of interplay really too deep to get into in this correspondence, but if you’re interested in it, I encourage you to investigate.

For WoW, little investigation is needed, as the game does a great job of appealing to both groups.  There’s plenty of circumstances in the game that need to be decided with some finality at least; raid strategies, PvP strategies, specs, and gear spring to mind.  Players need to know with final specificity what their role is, where they need to be during an encounter (raid or PvP), and for which stats they need to be reforging, gemming, and enchanting.  Each of those decisions needs to be made and closed, which would make a judging player happy.

On the other hand, there’s plenty opportunity to leave things open, too.  Respecs are only a few clicks away.  Gear can be upgraded, reforged, re-enchanted, and so forth.  Boss and PvP strategies require some fluidity, allowing improvisational changes mid-encounter.  Patches often bring sweeping changes which thrown judging players out of whack, but perceiving players enjoy the changes since they can tinker and experiment with their gear and specs.

So in the end, dear reader, WoW’s really for every Myers-Briggs type.  Certain parts of the game may favor one type over another, but there’s always activities available for every kind of player.  It makes me wonder, really how carefully constructed such an open world was from the start or how much of it emerged from player feedback as the game evolved.  Either way, it’s stunning to see how open and inviting the game is to so many types of players, regardless of how many complaints we see on a daily basis.  Whatever else may be said, here, at least, Blizz did a great job.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (ISTJ, The “Inspector,” for the last seven years, which prior to today was the last time I took the test)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2011 11:45 am

    Great post :) Can’t wait for parts 2 & 3 :)
    Issy, who needs to leave stuff open _so_ much that she wavers between
    INFP – The Idealist and INTP – The Thinker
    *grin*

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