The psychology of games: A Carepost

I believe that the way someone plays games says a lot about them.

I’m not sure how valuable that is as a concept, really. It takes playing with someone for a long time until you understand how they work, and it’s generally just going to show things that would be much more apparent in talking to someone. I’m curious as to if it’d be possible to make any sort of diagnosis from any game, though.

I’m going to be talking about four people. Me, my two best friends, and an ex-friend. I’ve analyzed everyone involved to a large enough extent that I feel comfortable making these statements.

With everyone except the last guy, I’m going to use League of Legends as an example of a game they show their traits in strongly.


I use games primarily as a means of testing my ability to adjust to situations. I generally prefer games that make me deal with this ability to adjust, instead of games that are more focused towards giving you straightforward, challenging situations.

I have no confidence in games. If I’m in a straight fight with another person in a game, I’m probably dead. My strength comes from being able to cope with nearly anything that can be thrown at me in a game and underhandedly finding a way to abuse the opponent’s weaknesses. :v I wouldn’t say I’m even average in anything I play, but I usually win due to that ability.

I have a weird restriction against going all out in games. I think this stems from the fact the only people I had to play games with as a kid were my parents and my sister, who’d get frustrated if I was remotely mean in a game. Unless I’m drunk, I cannot stop playing with an opponent and this has made people angry before.

I’m fascinated with glitches in games, and tend to love finding ways to bend engines.


This is one of my two best friends. He’s an interesting person, mentally. I have absolutely no diagnosis for how he works.

As far as I can tell, he uses games as an outlet for aggression when he needs to. If his confidence in real life or a game falters, he compensates with more aggression. He’s not angry, but he’s forceful.

He uses this confidence and confidence-manufacturing engine well, but its downside is that he will actively fight new ideas. He tends to slowly improve in games, but making him notice is a surefire way to send him back to his original style.

He tends towards trashtalk in games, possibly as a confidence booster.

When we team up, we work unbelievably well. His confidence tends to help me, and my wild tactics boost his confidence.


This is my other best friend. He is a pretty awesome person, but he has some serious undiagnosed depression and ADD going on. He’s never been to a psychiatrist, and thinks they’ll belittle him.

He doesn’t have any confidence or motivation, really. This transfers into games by making him a very meek, passive person. The combination of lack of motivation and confidence generally tends to make him afraid to try new techniques or tactics until pushed.

The most interesting, worrying thing he’ll do is to play through a game repeatedly as the same character. He’s up to four runs of Mass Effect with the exact same character. Same choices, same name, same face, and I think he’s always the same class. It might be a sign of him wanting to escape and play out a mental persona in the game, but I’m not sure.

When the two of us team up, we don’t work fantastically well. I don’t have the driving force to keep him going, and I can’t count on him to watch my back as much as I can someone else. He’s going to legitimately try, but… him and E work together much better.

I feel like the three of us generally tend to work well, in that E’s huge amount of aggression clashing with T’s passiveness helps them both out to an extent, with me serving as a wildcard to help them both.

League of Legends:

The three of us almost always play together. Our styles in this game suit what I’ve said above extremely well.

E’s almost always a melee bruiser. He seems incredibly uncomfortable in any role where he’s not dealing horrific amounts of damage, and never worries about his life in any way. Almost every game, he’ll go with the same tactics and the same build, but he’s effective that way. He’s not versatile, but he’s in his niche and enjoys it, and it fits him.

T’s generally someone uncomplex. He’s gone with Master Yi, Jax, and Volibear in the time I’ve been playing with him. We’ve given the poor dude some grief because his mental style doesn’t fit either Yi or Jax, resulting in him doing extremely poorly. Volibear’s doing much, much better for him, though he’s still very nervous about dying.

I’m the wildcard, as always. I tend towards whatever role they’ll need. This leads to me being either a support character, healing and protecting, or a magic damage character who can output frightening amounts of damage to compliment E’s. In all of these roles, I’ve never been someone who’s good in a straight fight or able to deal with anyone one-on-one.

An addendum: The Other Guy

I used to game with a guy with aspergers. Like, not… “I’m a unique snowflake and I self-diagnosed!” aspergers, legit psychiatrist diagnosed aspergers and rage issues. He had his own bundle of styles.

He was incredibly, incredibly solid in fighting games. If it’d been a straight fight at any point, I’d never have been able to touch him. Unfortunately, he’s unable to ever wrap his head around how exactly his opponent’s going to think, so he’s easily baited and any sort of trickery’ll leave him reeling. I feel like the aspergers translated extremely plainly into his style.

Then he threw a bottle through my window in a fit of rage one day, but that’s another story.

Concluding statements:

I don’t think any of this is particularly useful, but it’s interesting. It only seems to be relevant to games where you’re forced to stay on your toes, like fighting games and MOBAs. In other cases, such as RTSes, things are much more based on rote memorization and things too fast to be affected by much thought and I don’t feel like they’re as valuable for analyzing how someone plays. In twitch shooters, I think things generally go too fast to see anything except for wildly obvious things like T/E’s passive/aggressive tendencies.

Posted on February 26, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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