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Tammy, Jenny, Spike, and ANR


#1

Most card-game players have probably heard of the psychographic profiles of Magic: The Gathering players popularized by Mark Rosewater. If you are not familiar, read the link to find out more.

I was listening this morning a Rosewater podcast that included a quick recap of the profiles. He described them in a nutshell this way:

Timmy/Tammy wants to experience something.

Johnny/Jenny wants to express something.

Spike wants to prove something.

Rosewater talked in the podast (Download here) about a card he designed that was a failure because it tried to appeal to both Tammy and Spike. He suggested that good cards need to lean heavily toward one type so they will be loved by those who love them and likely disliked or hated by those who do not. Cards fail when they designers try to make cards that everyone likes. Make a card someone loves rather than aim toward one that everyone likes.
(Rosewater has also created aesthetic profiles called Vorthos and Mel, which you can read about here.)

As I listened to Rosewater talk about this, a card instantly came to my mind, but not one from ANR. In my previous game, Conquest, there was a card called Ork Landa that was probably the perfect Tommy card as Rosewater describes them. It was a very high variance card that sometimes did an amazing thing but often was a dud and if tried to build your deck to make it more predictable you were probably totally wrecking your deck. Some players loved it and were constantly on the search for the Ork Landa deck. Other players considered it ridiculous, a joke, and a perfect illustration of a bad card that you would never slot in your deck, ever.

So the obvious question is how this all applies to ANR – if at all?

I think we can see players or all types in Netrunner – although Spike is best represented in the ranks of the community’s most respected players. We can also see some cards that would appeal to each profile.

I’m not much of a Spike myself, so this first judgment may be quite wrong, but I’d say Account Siphon is a great Spike card. It is not a Spike merely because it super powerful, but also because it takes a lot of skill to play it really well. When Spikes give a card a compliment that say it is “skill testing,” and I think Siphon fits that bill.

I’d say a card like Janus is a Tammy card. It is a big, dramatic card that is really hard to play but does a really neat thing if you ever get it to work. I also think there are some cards that were meant to be Timmy cards, but did not pan out. Push Your Luck and Windfall are examples of cards that feel like they are trying to appeal to Tammy but do not produce enough payoff to generate the “wow” factor that causes Timmy to accept and even embrace the variance.

Is the Professor a Jenny card? He seems like the clear-cut case for a Runner that does not have “wow” factor and certainly is not just plain “good.” He seems to be a card meant to appeal to the player who wants to do something unique and special.

Can you think of other card examples? And which type best describes your approach to the game?


#2

I really, really hate those psychographics. They’re so reductive.

(not having a go at you personally, they’re very commonly used terms)


#3

I love Ork Landa and my favorite tournament win was with a deck built heavily around it. :smiley:

Psychographics are reductive, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful. The goal isn’t to accurately capture 100% of every player’s unique motivations, but rather to understand general motivating factors that can help improve your design.


#4

My favourite thing about those profiles is how neatly they map onto the main runner factions. Not in terms of which faction will appeal to which players, but in terms of the in-universe characteristics of members of those factions.

Spike = “Of course I steal from the rich. They’re the ones with all the money.” = Criminal

Timmy/Tammy = “Watch this. It’ll be funny.” = Anarch

Johnny/Jenny = “Hand-made code is like hand-made art.” = Shaper


#5

Timmy is often reduced to “big things”, but it can also be seen as making bold or impactful plays. Siphon into Inside Job or using events to feed Leela are things Timmy might like, even though neither might fit the definition at first glance.


#6

The comparison definitely only applies to flavour. Account Siphon into Inside Job is definitely something a Timmy player might like, but in-universe, criminals like Gabe and Leela use Account Siphon and Inside Job because they’re effective and efficient, not because they’re bold and impactful.


#7

Only questionably on topic: I’m a psychologist, and I have been tempted for several years (assuming this isn’t already a thing) to create and validate a questionnaire that can formally and accurately assess these player archetypes. I think it would lead to some pretty cool opportunities for understanding how people think about card games like this.


#8

I just realized that WotC have been banging on about “psychographics” for ten years and there’s a Netrunner card where the more the corp knows about the runner, the more disproportionately they win the game. Maybe more of what FFG does is actually clever industry satire than “Android universe,”

—Mel.


#9

It looks like nobody has linked it yet so I can link https://www.reddit.com/r/Netrunner/comments/62h30g/timmy_johnny_and_spike_wouldnt_know_a_skulljack/dfmnqsx/ which is great (I am Gabe).


#10

Rosewater has revisited these terms several times and kept building on them, creating subtypes, types within those subtypes. As much as some people want to make them stereotypes and slurs to show their dislike for the other playstyles, they’re still very interesting and useful for card design. And above all they show the motivations that draw someone to play.

As for the subtypes Tim/Tams are said to include Power Gamers, Social Gamers, Exploration Gamers, and Adrenaline Gamers. John/Jens are said to include Combo Players, Offbeat Designers, Deck Artists, and Uber Johnnies. Spikes are said to include Innovators, Tuners, Analysts, and Nuts + Bolts. These can all be mixed freely.
In most things I tend to fall roughly into a mix of UberJohhny and Innovator.


#11

My main beef with these broad profiles of players is that they varyingly deemphasize the main reason people play games: social interaction. I think that any pyscho-archetype classification which doesn’t take as paramount the types of interactions the person wants to have with their opponent isn’t something that should be designed around. It’s not a popular opinion, but I think games should work to be unappealing to those who don’t want to have interesting interaction with their opponent. What’s great about netrunner is that its asymmetrical nature/hidden information puts it miles ahead of other games in this regard.

But if you look at OP you see “x is a y card” not because of what it interactions it causes, but because of the reaction of a player looking at a card, daydreaming about it, would have. Like that makes sense if your goal is to cause people to chase a dragon for the perfect cards and deck that represents them, but not so much if you want to make a game that helps people have interesting experiences.


#12

I think your comment here is based on the assumption that everyone shares the same primary motivation (social interaction). Although social interaction may be a motivation for many people, its ranking in order of importance probably varies from person to person.

For example, my main reason for playing a game like Netrunner is mental stimulation. I enjoy deck building, reading spoilers for new cards, successfully implementing my ideas, and winning games using decks I’ve constructed. Some of those activities require social interaction, but others don’t. There are plenty of people who enjoy solving Sudoku puzzles and other games that don’t require any social interaction at all.

There are other people who thrive on social interaction and enjoy having a fun time with other people. For them, Netrunner is simply a tool or vehicle to facilitate that kind of fun social experience or event. Some people would rather organize and host a community event, tournament, or podcast about a game than actually play that game.

I think carefully considering your motivations for playing a game and then putting effort into fulfilling those motivations will help people enjoy the game more, and feel more content and accomplished.


#13

The main uses I’ve seen Mark Rosewater get out of the psychographics are two things:

  1. explaining why they printed a card you didn’t like
  2. as a guide to inspire set design so they make sure they are making cards that appeal to each of those broad groups

I’m not a card designer so I don’t have to design cards or defend them to the unwashed masses. But for me the psychographics are still useful because act as a reminder that there is more than one way to get joy out of a game, and that just because something doesn’t appeal to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be happy it is in the game, because it might be making someone else happy.

It’s good to keep in mind what the psychographics don’t cover. Other reasons, like social ones, why someone might enjoy sitting down and playing a game of Netrunner. Other reasons, like Vorthos and Melvin considerations, why someone might appreciate a card.

I suppose the other benefit of psychographics is I like sorting myself. As much fun to decide that you are a Johnny/Timmy hybrid as it is to place yourself in Ravenclaw, imo.


#14

Someone needs to do a Psychographics study of Netrunner players, call it the Beale Project, and it will be an instant winner!


#15

@merkator I’m with @rwknoll on this one, social interaction may be a common factor but there are many that barely care about it. Yes some people have it as the main focus, but others exist that strive to minimize it.
I personally have almost zero interest in the social part of games. To me social interaction is a byproduct of playing a game with other people, and I have just as much fun playing with a computer or something like against myself with two decks running based on logic. Adding a human opponent simply adds complexity.

@Sanjay the expanded psychographics do cover those however, as social gamers are a subset of TimTams and Vorthos+Melvin are also incorporated as a second spectrum.


#16

I think the psychographics map pretty well to Netrunner, but classifying social gamers as TimTams (and the classification makes sense, they are motivated by pursuing experiences) does highlight a limitation of the specific categories.

I’m think of so called “prison” decks. While they can have Spike and Johnny appeal, the goal of setting up a board state where you are absolutely stomping your opponent is a Timmy sentiment. In general, being a griefer is a Timmy thing to do. However, the people who, motivated by social factors, avoid decks that make their opponents miserable because they make their opponents miserable are also Timmys.

If the goal of the psychographics is merely to put everyone in a box, saying social gamers are TimTams is perfectly fine. But if the goal is to talk about different ways people enjoy the game, you have to consider that chasing your own experiences and trying to build towards having a good game are different.

I may be misremembering my Rosewater, but one thing I found really useful is his realization that Melvin+Vorthos is not one spectrum, but two. There is a “Not Melvin” - “Melvin” spectrum and a “Not Vorthos” - “Vorthos” spectrum. I think the same is true for all the psychographics.

How much do I get Jenny type enjoyment out of the game?
How much do I get Spike type enjoyment out of the game?
etc.

To this end, there’s no fundamental limit on number of ways you can enjoy a game that exist. While sometimes pursuing your Spikey dreams might get in the way of your Tammy sentiments, there’s no inherent reason why you can’t enjoy the game for both reasons.

Is there enough reason to separate TimTam into multiple different ways to enjoy the game? I think there’s a good case for it being made here, at least as far as Netrunner goes.


#17

I don’t really agree with that. I think “absolutely stomping your opponent” is pretty much Spike, especially if we have to interpret the board state a bit to get to that assessment… “I never score any agendas, and I only do two net damage to you each turn” doesn’t really sound like “TIMMY STOMP!” But Spike can assess it as “I have advantage here, with my opponent unlikely to overturn it”.

To me ANR Timmy wants to score Government Takeover, or install Monolith, or rez a Brainstorm their opponent can’t break. Big plays, blowout moments, powerful cards. Not “a combination of six or seven cards that leads to a very gradual but insurmountable victory”


#18

It’s not so much what cards you play, but why. There is a kind of Timmy called “Griefer Timmy” who enjoys the experience of making his opponent miserable, so he might play a prison deck for that reason.

Spike might enjoy a prison deck if it takes skill to set up the prison or to maintain it, or he might play it anyway because it’s a powerful deck, but there’s nothing implicitly appealing about that deck type to Spike.

Johnny might enjoy one if he designed it himself and the opponent is not expecting to be locked down in that way so that they can be impressed by the uniqueness of his deck.
Several kinds of Johnnies might be attracted to prison decks. “Combo Player Johnny” might make it if he discovers a particular combination of cards that lead to a prison. “Offbeat Designer Johnny” might set himself a challenge to lock down an opponent in a particular way, and then put the cards together that allows him to do that. “Deck Artist Johnny” might be trying to capture the flavour of the game in a particular way, although his decks usually don’t follow game plans that are so direct to victory. “Uber Johnny” might make a prison deck if it was so complicated to set up that it was extremely unlikely to win, just so he could see if he could ever pull it off.


#19

Aw, you are making me cite sources? How rude:

https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/latest-developments/yang-timmy-2009-03-13

I admit that Prison has some Spike appeal too, but locking your opponent out of the game, cutting off all their options, is a Timmy goal. Spikes want to win.

There’s a reason why people get salty when their opponents concede games when their opponents feel like they have no chance to win: they built the deck to bask in that moment.