A recent survey of 4,000 participants reveals that INTPs are the biggest gamers, while ESFJs are the least interested in video games.
Daniel Navarro Blake’s earliest memory of video games was playing Super Mario Bros. 3 on his cousin’s NES when he was five years old. He got more into gaming after his dad began using video games as a way to teach his young son English. After his dad passed away, video games became about more than just entertainment and education.
“I felt like playing video games was some sort of escape from the daily routine of school and homework to that fictional world where it was all about having fun. But even more so, it allowed me to feel that my dad was still with me, helping me to jump over a pit or solve a puzzle or explaining what was the main objective of the game,” he said.
Today, at 33 years old, Navarro Blake games for at least two hours every day and streams on his Twitch channel, one2switcheroo, which has nearly 1,000 followers. Like many gamers, he says his primary motivation for gaming is to relax and have fun while challenging himself and gaining a sense of achievement.
But in a major way, Navarro Blake isn’t like most gamers. That’s because his Myers & Briggs type, ESFJ, is statistically the least likely personality type to play video games, according to a recent Truity survey.
Who is a gamer? What the data tells us
Truity’s survey of approximately 4,000 participants sought to find a link between personality type and gaming frequency, motivation and preferences. The survey found that INTPs are the personality type most likely to play video games, while their 4-letter opposite, ESFJs, are the least.
ESFJ, also known as The Provider, stands for Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging. ESFJs are sociable and compassionate; they spend most of their time attuning to the practical and emotional needs of their family, friends and other people in their lives. INTP, also known as The Architect, stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving. Different from ESFJs in many ways, INTPs are innovative and logical. They prefer to spend time alone, often deeply absorbed in their thoughts and ideas.
The study’s lead researcher, Cameron Berg, notes that the opposing personality preferences give key insights into what the typical “gamer” archetype looks like and why.
“Introverts often prefer solitary activities, so it makes sense that gaming has greater appeal to them,” said Berg. “Perceivers play more video games on average, which also makes sense since they tend to be more flexible and adaptable. You don’t typically go into a game planning exactly how you’re going to do it or how long you’re going to do it, so it makes a lot of sense that Perceivers are bigger gamers. And when we zoom out, it makes sense that INTPs play the most and ESFJs, representing the opposite preferences, tend to play the least.”
The study also looked at personality and game type and found that your personality type may reveal quite a bit about the category of game you prefer. Some key findings include:
- Casual games such as Farmville, Candy Crush and Angry Birds are consistently popular among all personality types, but ISFPs are the most likely to prefer this game type.
- Action/Adventure and First Person Shooter games are most popular among ENTPs.
- Battle Royale games are the most popular among ESTPs.
- Open World/Role Playing games and Simulation/Building games are most popular among INFPs and INTPs.
- Puzzle games are most popular among INTJs and INFJs.
- Real-time strategy games are most popular among ENTJs.
- Sports/racing games are most popular among ESTJs.
While these findings tell us a lot about what personality traits may attract someone to a specific type of game, Berg was most fascinated by the findings related to personality type and motivation. The primary motivation across all personality types is relaxation and escapism, although this was highest among ISFP and INFP types. Other findings include:
- Intuitives are more likely to be motivated by exploration games than Sensors.
- Extraverts are more motivated by competition and socializing with others than Introverts.
- INFPs are most likely to be motivated by building and creating.
- INTPs are most likely to be motivated by progressing and earning achievements.
“All types play video games but there are very diverse motivations, and that’s important for people to know whether you’re a video game developer or a player,” Berg said. “When you consider the archetype of the gamer, you imagine something really intense on a computer with multiple screens. But what you actually see is that most people are pretty casual when it comes to gaming.”
So, what is the archetype of the typical gamer?
While many personalities, especially Sensor-Feeling types, tend to be pretty casual about their gaming habits, the INTP stands out as the personality type to report the highest gaming frequency.
Podcaster Christian Rivera, an INTP personality type who has talked about INTPs and gaming on his podcast, Happy Chemicals, says that one major benefit of video games for INTPs is that they provide a fictional world to try new things and practice life skills.
“I think video games allow INTPs to explore conceptual worlds and make mistakes in a way that has minimal impact on our daily lives whilst also not having to interface with people in a way that has real-life consequences,” said Rivera. “In life, there are longer-term karmic effects of choices that can make life almost too open and intimidating. Games provide a structure, purpose and direction, which I think many INTPs crave but can't easily find in daily life.”
Like Navarro Blake and other avid gamers, Rivera started playing video games at a young age.
“I always felt like games were an oasis from everyday life and an opportunity to use my brain for what it was built for,” he said. “Solving puzzles is always satisfying and playing games that involve tracking progress and a sense of discovery usually hooks me.”
While Rivera notes many positive effects of video games for INTPs, such as getting to use the personality type’s unique strengths of deductive reasoning and experimentation, he also mentions that excessive gaming for this type can pose some risks, such as pulling the player further away from reality.
“The idea is that if virtual worlds satisfy most needs, then why spend time in our physical reality? Games can create opportunities to practice life skills, but if we only live life through games, then we become a perpetual bench warmer in our own life story,” he shared.
The survey found that the types of games most common among INTPs (as well as other NP types) are action/adventure, open world/RPGs and simulation games. Berg, an ENTP personality type, says that this could be due to the fact that these types of games tend to be flexible and often require big-picture thinking skills.
“Simulation games are very open-ended, and that’s what makes them unique, so it would make sense that NP types are attracted to them,” he said. “These types of games require abstract thinking, and the possibilities are limitless, so NP types enjoy that more than people who want more structure in their gameplay.”
The least likely gamer: ESFJ
Truity’s survey found that those with Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging preferences tend to report gaming less frequently than other types. Notably, there was a significant difference between the gaming frequency and variety of games played between Judging and Perceiving types.
“Judging types prefer structure, organization and decisiveness,” said Berg. “If they play games, they’re more likely to stick to what they understand and have mapped out – a more structured type of gameplay and less spontaneous bouncing around from thing to thing. So I don’t think it’s surprising at all that we see that Perceivers tend to play more games than Judgers, and more often.”
As for why ESFJs report gaming less frequently than other types? Navarro Blake, who describes his specific gaming style as “casual and diverse,” says it could be due to the personality type’s social nature.
“ESFJs are very socially oriented people. Myself included,” he said. “During my college years, because I wasn’t at home very often, I was more out and about with my friends, doing different extracurricular activities. I only played when I was at home and late at night.”
And what about the ESFJs and other types who aren’t playing video games at all?
“Well, I can tell you that all those people are missing out,” Navarro Blake joked. His advice? “Pick a game that matches your personality and piques your interest, and give it a shot. Let go of the self-judgment that many people still feel about playing video games. But more importantly, don't be afraid of having fun. There are a lot of things happening in the world that can bring us down, and if we could wish for a little escape window to another reality that will make us feel better, this is it.”
Berg notes that there are other factors not included in the survey that should be considered before jumping to major conclusions about gamers in general, such as gender and socioeconomic status. While the survey doesn’t tell us everything about gamers, the insights do provide an interesting glimpse into personality-based preferences and motivations.
“This isn’t the final word on video games and personality type, there are a lot of future directions we can take to continue to learn more, but this is a really good starting point,” he said. “The thing that’s most surprising about this data is that there aren’t many surprises, which is a good sanity check that the dataset is valid and the results make sense.”