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?