Johnny, Spike, Timmy & EVE

Warning: very long and possibly rambling post ahead.

First of all, I highly recommend that you read this:

It is where game designer Mark Rosewater talks extensively about the psychographic profiles of players specific to the game Magic: The Gathering.  It is interesting stuff although much of the terminology is specific to MTG.

I have edited down the profiles and applied them to EVE.  This is a heavily derivative work and I am quoting extensively from the above article.

Keep in mind that these are all PVP profiles.  But since EVE is a PVP game, I think they apply quite nicely.  Also, players don’t always fit cleanly into a single category.  Probably, most players have a dominant category but recognize traits from the other categories as well.

So, on to the profiles…

For Timmy, the entire reason to play is having a good time

Timmy wants to experience something. Timmy plays because she enjoys the feeling she gets when she plays. What that feeling is will vary from Timmy to Timmy, but what all Timmies have in common is that they enjoy the visceral experience of playing. As you will see, Johnny and Spike have a destination in mind when they play. Timmy is in it for the journey.

Timmy plays with ships and fittings and methods that make him happy; things that create cool moments; fleets that make him laugh; ships that allow him to hang with his friends; ships that cause him to have fun. Winning and losing isn’t even really the point (although winning is fun – Timmy gets that).

For Timmy, the entire reason to play is having a good time. If Timmy loses 7 out of 10 matches, but wins 3 decisively then it was worth it.  Some Timmies LIVE for overkill.  When they win, they like to win big.  Gate campers and Hot Droppers are usually Timmies.  They may waste a lot of time waiting, but it is with friends and they are having fun on comms.  Sometimes a roaming fleet catches them and wipes them out.  Sometimes they catch a hauler or some blinged out ships.  If it made for a good story, then it was fun and it was worth it.

Timmies are also the ones that emphasize fun social interactions in a positive way.  They are the players that organize events like theme roams, frigate-free-for-alls, and other player events.  Another category of Timmies are the ones that always want to try new things.  They are the ones that move from Manufacturing to Wormholes to Nullsec to Faction Warfare to…whatever.  Finally, some Timmies just live for the adrenaline rush of the game.  They like to fly by the seat of their pants and be unpredictable.  They will engage in any battle – just to see what happens.  They are the true pirates of EVE -they get great fights and great kills, but are usually broke.

Let me end this section on Timmy by stressing that of the three profiles, Timmy has probably gotten the worst rap. Timmy isn’t an idiot. Timmy just chooses his ships and fittings for his own purposes. It’s not the reason Johnny and Spike choose theirs, but then that’s the entire point of psychographic profiles – to explain how different players are motivated by different criteria. I hope after this article, a lot of readers will realize that they themselves are Timmies.

Johnny wants to express something

So why does Johnny play? Because Johnny wants to express something. To Johnny, this is an opportunity to show the world something about himself, be it how creative she is or how clever she is or how offbeat she is. As such, Johnny is very focused on the customizability of the game. Your ship and your style becomes an extension of yourself. When your style wins, you win. When your ship fitting gets complimented, you get complimented. It is this principle that drives Johnnies.

They are the EFT Warriors and Fleet Comp builders.  They are the strategists that pore over tournament fleet combinations and build winning combinations.

They are also the creators of the theme fleets that are weird, but wildly effective.  The idea for RvB and Brave Newbies and EVE University may fall into this grouping.

Johnnies also see the game as a form of self-expression. Some of the talented role-players and artists and bloggers are Johnnies.

Some Johnnies build their ships based on sheer stubbornness. To them, no ship or module is too bad to find a use for. They thrive on doing the undoable like building Battle Badgers and Combat Covops ships.

Before I wrap up with Johnny, I feel obliged to point out that Johnnies aren’t restricted to just the in-game expression.  The common bond to all the Johnnies is that they are on a mission to show the world something about themselves. What they’re showing varies tremendously, but at the core of each Johnny is a similar motivation: “Look at me world! Look at me!”

Spike gets his greatest joy from proving something by winning

So why does Spike play? Spike plays to prove something, primarily to prove how good he is. You see, Spike sees the game as a mental challenge by which she can define and demonstrate her abilities. Spike gets her greatest joy from winning because her motivation is using the game to show what she is capable of. Anything less than success is a failure because that is the yardstick he is judging himself against.  If Spike wins 9 out of 10 times, but he knows he could have / should have won the 10th time then he is disappointed.  She wants to win.

Most Spikes are min/maxers.  They try to squeeze every advantage whether in pvp or trading or space domination.  They want to be the best.  Some Spikes focus on the metagame.  They win by understanding their opponents’ (or the game’s) weaknesses.  They win sovereignty battles before they start and make fortunes on patch speculation.

Some Spikes focus all their energies on perfecting their own gameplay.  They are the consummate pvp pilots who are always perfecting their craft.  They make videos, share tips, and dominate tournament play.  In industry they make trillions.

Finally, there are some Spikes that absolutely drive CCP crazy.  They pride themselves on their ability to find and exploit broken game mechanics.  They know how to make use of game mechanics for personal benefit in ways that CCP never dreamed of.

The most important thing to understand about Spikes is this: To them the game is a means to test themselves. As such, their enjoyment comes from marking their own progress. While that usually means winning (however defined), there are Spikes who measure their success in other ways. For example, some Spikes measure themselves not against winning or losing but by how perfect their play was.

The last thing I want to stress is that Spikes are neither limited to organized play nor are they necessarily good. There are Spikes who play casually. There are Spikes who are downright horrible. Being a Spike is measured against why you play not where or how well you play. (And the inverse is true for Timmy.)

Feel free to disagree, but so far, I would say that Rubicon was a Timmy/Johnny expansion.  It is an expansion that encourages alternative game play and makes proving-by-winning a bit more complex.  In fact, with the space exploration bit, it feels like perhaps CCP is embarking on a long Timmy/Johnny arc.  I think maybe Jester was alluding to this when he made this post a while back.  We shall see.