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The GAP System: Measuring Gamer/Game Compatibility

May 3, 2010

Or, How I Learned To Stop Dying, and Love Battlefield:Bad Company 2

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They say that we are attracted to those who find us attractive. I think this applies to various “relationships”, including those between gamers and games. When trying to figure out why it is that I could play Gears of War almost exclusively for 2 years (a long and passionate relationship), and yet could not play its sequel for more than a couple of weeks without losing my mind (more of a fatal attraction), I eventually realized that it was simply a matter of the game not liking me: an irreconcilable incompatibility.

Exploring this revelation further, I discovered that this gamer/game relationship was almost quantifiable by what I now call “The GAP System”. Not so unlike the “Lovers Compatibility” tests that one might find in those magazines they sell near the counters in grocery stores (hee hee), The GAP System profiles games and gamers and helps explain why some FPS/TPS games work for a given person and others don’t.

GAP simultaneously stands for “Gamer Appeal Profile” and “Gamer Attribute Profile”.  The Appeal Profile describes a given game by charting what the gamer must do or have, to experience success in the game. The Attribute Profile describes the gamer by charting the skills, attitudes, and other characteristics that he or she brings to gaming.  To understand why a game is or is not enjoyable for a given gamer, all one has to do is compare the two profiles.  As regards the hobby of gaming, I am convinced that only in rare cases do “opposites” attract, and therefore the closer that the gamer/game profiles resemble each other, the greater the potential for a long and happy relationship.

It should be noted that in the Appeal profile I use the phrase, “Importance To Experiencing Success” for rating the elements of a game.  By success, I mean “fulfillment of purpose of gaming”.  We game for a variety of purposes: entertaining ourselves, passing time, relaxing, hanging with friends.  Yet for the most part, none of these are served if we are having a miserable time playing the game. When we profile a game, we discover to what degree each element will impact our chances of having fun, and in turn, to what extent the game will be fulfilling.

In its current form, the GAP System can only be used to compare profiles between gamers and FPS/TPS games. Discerning the elements required for more comprehensive appeal and attribute profiles is beyond my knowledge and experience in the other video game genres.  It is my hope that if people find the GAP system insightful, or even just fun, that they might take this idea and run with it to make it more inclusive.

Ultimately, I have created the GAP system for myself.  It helps me to understand why I love or hate a game.

Finally, while this system is prone to extreme subjectivity, I think it can be useful if the users are honest and consistent within their own ratings, understand its limitations, and have arguments to support their choices if they claim objectivity in their scores.

As you can see by the slideshow, since I can’t aim well, I probably won’t enjoy games like Modern Warfare 2, or Gears of War 2. On the other hand, Gears of War, Left4Dead, and BF:BC2 appear to be near perfect matches.

The full page profiles are here:






Brink - Pre-release


I have created Open Office Calc templates (Gamer Appeal Profile and Gamer Attribute Profile) so that everyone can create their own profiles, or take the system and run with it. I no longer have the original OpenOffices (Or at least, I can no longer find them). LOL I look forward to hearing your thoughts and criticism/suggestions.

Update: Templates are up (please see links above)! I was chatting with Kenny earlier this evening and he mentioned interest in broadening these to cover SP gaming and the other genres!

  1. May 3, 2010 7:37 am

    Suns, serious props for this. It is completely evident that you put a lot of time and effort into this! I think it would be really awesome to compare our own gamer profiles with one another and see how they compare in relation to how we game together.

    On a bit of a random note, something i have taken away from all of this is just how important making team plays is to me. All of my favorite games L4d, GOW1, and BC2 require the use of extreme teamwork and making strategic plans. I also really dig making plays on the fly. For example, if Plan A goes down, quickly thinking of a Plan B under grave circumstances.

    Another game that has me excited is Ghost Recon. The original games were VERY team oriented. Though they also require lots of aiming abilities as well, i think you might actually really enjoy it Suns. The reason being team play outways shooting abilities. Shots are almost always one hit kills, so cover and taking things slow are very important! 🙂

    I will dig into this more in a bit.

    • May 3, 2010 5:46 pm

      PS, Suns, my internets went out again. I tried getting on PC to send you a skype message and it wouldn’t work either. Restarted router, all the classic fixes didn’t do anything. I am really starting to get pissed off at the service.

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 4, 2010 12:37 am

      Zos, I wasn’t even sure at first what had happened because XBL never even popped the message that you had left our party. I was talking for a while after you were gone. lol 😉 Ten minutes or so later, when I checked skype and saw that you weren’t on there either, I knew exactly what had happened.

      Kenny and I have discussed the possibility that maybe your are tin-canning your neybors wifi, but I think if you were piggybacking, you would have much better service. Your provider is so sh!tty, it can only be something one pays for. I take this a full proof that indeed, you are paying premium price, top dollar for your connection. LOL

      Much <3.

    • May 4, 2010 11:13 am

      Agree 100% on Ghost Recon. I’m planning on picking up the new one if it’s as promising as the past titles.

      Hey Chief, gotcha raka-lanka?

  2. xk3zofrenik permalink
    May 3, 2010 10:49 am

    Ah I finally see what you were talking about many nights ago in BC2. This is a cool system to profile a game.

    I think one that would be interesting to see dissected like this would be Shadow Run, and of course TF2!

    I didn’t like GRAW/GRAW2 later on because randoms started using the sniper rifles like Assault Rifles. But it was fun with people from 2old2kwit.

  3. Average permalink*
    May 3, 2010 2:19 pm

    Great job Mike. Good to see your efforts finally revealed for everyone to read. Congrats on such a brilliant idea.
    Send in your GAP System patent/copyright ASAP before Activision gets here.

  4. May 3, 2010 4:50 pm

    The main conclusion that I see here is:

    a) certain games like MW2 / Gears 2, favor a certain type of player.

    b) games like L4D and BC2 have a broader approach. Various skill sets are needed. Everyone can contribute favoring their strengths and avoiding if possible their weaknesses.

    I think of all games, BC2 exemplifies this contribution due to both a) score awarded b) influencing the outcome of the game. L4 D exemplifies this not so much by score but by “moments” like the one where Blankman got the last fuel can in. I don’t know if he was the high scorer for the team, but he “rose” to the occasion and made it memorable.

    • May 3, 2010 5:45 pm

      Agreed on Left 4 Dead scoring. I almost never even pay attention to those statistics because they don’t really represent the contributions a team player has made! The overal team score is the only one that shows it.

    • Average permalink*
      May 3, 2010 6:02 pm

      Jim, I actually think its the opposite. I think MW has a more broad approach to gamers because its a solo game where they are awarded for individual instead of teams.

      BC2/L4D type games have a smaller audience because of the skill and maturity needed to work together.

    • Blankman permalink*
      May 3, 2010 7:53 pm

      First of all, big props to Mike for his hardwork! Awesome stuff, brother! There was a lot of thought put into each of those categories and tons of work for the interface. Can’t wait for the templates to be available for people to formulate their own profile.

      Second, I agree with Average on games like Halo & MW2 being both more accessible and appealing to the broader audience. Many gamers, casual or hardcore, are individual players whether you want to call them Rambos or “lone wolves.” It takes maturity, discipline, and the ability to “know your role,” in order to be a team player. The selflessness that is required for class-based & team-based games make games such as L4D & BC2 less appealing to those that don’t want to commit to teamwork. There are a lot of gamers that care more about their K/D ratio than taking one for the team.

      In regards to “rising” to the occasion in that specific L4D game last week, I see it as a team effort. If rED didn’t run that last fuel can close enough to the generator, we would have lost the game. If Razor hadn’t picked up rED’s can and moved it just that much closer, we would have lost. The chain of events allowed me (the only one that wasn’t incapped) to essentially take that “baton hand-off” and run it past the finish line. Everyone knew what the objective was (get the fourth can into the generator) to secure the win. We all had to work together in order to achieve it. That’s why that win was so epic. As Hannibal from the A-Team said it best, “I love it when a plan comes together.” 😀

    • Average permalink*
      May 3, 2010 8:30 pm

      I love me a KD Ratio. I most definately failed on the Communication, I don’t talk enough usually.

      Btw, Blank and everyone on Saturday night, wasn’t high (don’t smoke) but drunk and having great difficulties playing. Not the greatest idea I’ve ever had, Suns you musta got on late saturday night since I missed ya.

  5. bootlegbaker permalink
    May 3, 2010 5:55 pm

    Wow, holy bat-crap! That’s impressive, time to apply to Cliffy!

  6. 3Suns permalink
    May 3, 2010 9:43 pm

    Thanks for the props, guys! I had a lot of fun putting this together. I look forward to profiling some of the upcoming games after their release.

    One thing I forgot to mention was that my profiles of the games were as they are “normally” played, as opposed to, for example, competitive play. When played competitively (for money), all the FPS games take on completely different profiles, focusing much more on communication and teamwork. In their natural states, however, I think I could podcast and defend any one of my profiles (at least to my satisfaction, anyway). lol

    Cheers! Love WordPress. First time to try the slideshow feature. WOO!

  7. circuitz permalink
    May 4, 2010 3:22 am

    Suns, very impressive profiling! Looking forward to more, these seem very accurate.

    Not for sure if anyone has seen this, has all the maps high resolution overhead shots for dl. Thats if you want to form a gameplan 🙂

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 4, 2010 4:26 am

      Thanks for the props, CiRCuiTz, especially that you think they have some validity. Bias is gonna happen, but if they provide some insight, then the idea succeeded. WOO!

      Fantastic Gravatar, and great link! Downloaded everything!

      Also, I have added the links to the Templates in the original blog post. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Open Office, it is a suite of applications (spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, drawing, math etc.) that is free and multi-platform. Also, it doesn’t mess with your registry and such, so installation and removal is a snap.

  8. May 4, 2010 11:36 am

    Suns, never have you able to cease to amaze me my man. Great stuff this is right here. It’s funny cause I used to always be a Lone Gun in the good ‘ol days of Socom, Unreal Championship, Halo 2, Call of Duty 2, even Ghost Recon. I pretty much thought about it as the only way to get the job done. But this was back when games had many flaws as well.

    But then once Gears came out it showed me just how important teamwork really is. You put a squad of four against say 8 or even 10 Lone Wolves, given enough time, all 10 would be dead. Stone Cold dead. That’s the thing that attracts me to squad-based games now. Just imagining training through sluts with a squad, or even a team of us. Because if there honestly is one thing I’ve noticed 99.9% when we have/had a full team of Gearhead/Stranded on a team it’s been nothing but absolute domination. No matter the game.

    Well, that’s all I can think of at the moment. Again, great job Suns! 😀

    P.S. My doc gave me a strong roid called Prednisone. Turns out I actually did have mono. Good news is that it works pretty quick and I’m already feeling ready to game again. Just won’t be top knotch comm-wise since I still sound like Helen Keller. But I’m off this week of both work and school so if anyone want to game let me know. I’m gonna try and see if I can get into the Haylow Reach beta as well. I’m always a sucker for new Haylowz. 😦

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 4, 2010 3:12 pm

      Sorry to hear that you caught mono, Grymm. Upon hearing your symptoms, I figured as much. Dang! 😦

      Speaking of Reach, I have a funny story to tell about the Beta. I was downstairs in the kitchen chatting with Zos on Skype and he asked me if the boys liked it. I had to run upstairs and ask them because I hadn’t heard a peep out of them for over an hour. Apparently, they were enjoying themselves, but I kinda chuckled because “in silence” ain’t the way we play games around here. Even when Johann is playing MW2 by himself he is quite vocal (and I don’t mean just swearing at the monitor, either).

      After a couple of hours of the beta, Tim went back to ME2 on Insanity, and Cornie back to TF2. Ummm, TF2 on the 360, you know, the version that has only five maps and none of the upgrades?

      At bedtime, Tim told me that he thought Reach gameplay was a little shallow. I told him it was the kiddie pool, and that next time he wanted to play some MP, he should hang with me for some deep end swimming. My personal impression was that, well, let’s put it this way, you know how sometimes you eat your favorite food and just happen to catch the flu that night, and then for years you can’t even look at that food any more? Yep.

      I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, though. Go for it, guys. I will hang in the party chat with you and enjoy hearing all about your exploits. That is one game, however, that I know I won’t have to buy for myself come fall. Small mercies. Small mercies.

      On the other hand, there is Brink (new awesome screenies at EvAv!)! I put up a quick pre-release profile for that puppy. Check it out and expect a keepin’-the-dream-alive post soon. 😉 lol

    • Average permalink*
      May 4, 2010 3:50 pm

      I got dragged outta the beta last night kicking and screaming..

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 4, 2010 4:19 pm

      Average, that is awesome! And I can imagine the way you will have handed the enemy their asses, they were probably kickin’ and screamin’ too.

      Good stuff. I expect to read all about it, buddy. Let us know. Hey, I don’t mind that you don’t dig L4D, much as I would like to play it with you.

      But, in a couple of months from now, I think we may be able to meet on that Archipelago, where they only serve sausage.

      And in the meantime, there is always BC2 – so much fun!

    • Average permalink*
      May 4, 2010 6:24 pm

      haha Suns, I meant dragged out of the beta kicking and screaming by yourself and Blank last night. BC2 was a lot of fun though and its always nice to be on the same team as everyone without cringing every time I kill a friend who’s stuck on the opposite team.

    • May 4, 2010 4:42 pm

      I will say this about the Beta Suns (I just played a few games of it).

      It is something new that’s for sure. The whole Classes aspect, all the new/uprgraded guns, and most importantly/disappointingly is the control scheme. Now I don’t know if they did this on purpose, but the melee button is now the right bumper while the B button is to switch grenades. And the ‘use equipment’ button is the left bumper. I’m so damned used to Haylow 3 I eff up almost every single firefight I get in. The first game I did ever play though was pretty amazing though if I do say so myself haha. But I’m probably just going to give this game another 5 days then hand it back. This is no L4D that’s for sure.

      OT: Anyone gaming tonight?

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 4, 2010 4:53 pm

      Grymm, check your control settings. I am pretty sure the boys were playing with their H3 settings, including Johann’s unusual “jumper bumper” setting.

      Yes to gaming. I fully plan on it, and the boys will be on all afternoon, too.

    • May 4, 2010 5:27 pm

      I only glaned at the Control Schemes, but didn’t find anything too appealling. I’ll have to take a second-look. Any idea what time you wanna game later Suns? I still need to play The Passing!

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 4, 2010 5:31 pm

      Not for a while. It is 2:30 am here so I have been up almost 24 hours. (I think I need to go back to work so I can get more rest! LOL)

      Probably the usual Friday eve time.

  9. saityrus permalink
    May 6, 2010 9:44 pm

    Downloaded the templates. Have to really monk with ’em in a couple of days.

  10. Ranneko permalink
    May 9, 2010 1:47 pm

    What does the modifier row mean?

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 9, 2010 11:02 pm

      The modifier row can be for whatever you define it as. For example, in L4D, playing as the Survivor and as the Special Infected is a very different experience, so I used the modifier to describe the differences. Similarly, in Gears of War, your experience will vary greatly if you are playing while in Party Chat. Suddenly, you can get information that the game was not designed to provide you with as you will be able to speak/listen from the dead.

      For the Gamer Attribute Profiles, the modifier can be used as a “margin of error”. Though for the Internet Connection Quality, I use it to describe the difference between my experience when playing locally against Japanese gamers and playing with my friends across the pond in North America. I have an incredible connection, but the distance nullifies much of the benefit. Thus, the modifier.

      Thanks for reading and asking about it!

  11. May 10, 2010 5:45 am

    Fascinating concept. It’d be interesting to see these principles applied to the setting and themes of the game as well as the gameplay elements — I imagine sci-fi buffs might take more interest in Metroid Prime and Mass Effect than Call of Duty and Gears Of War, swinging the whole thing in one direction in one fell swoop.

    A player’s preference for the mode of play could come into it, too: I can’t stand online multiplayer, for example, which could negatively affect my overall enjoyment of a MP-focused game like L4D. Maybe one could build these ideas into the modifiers?

    I realise you’re dealing almost exclusively with the MP aspects of these games here — but could this system also be applied to single-player FPS / TPS games? Again, an interesting idea.

    • 3Suns permalink
      May 10, 2010 9:42 am

      One should be able to either modify the current profile, or create completely different profiles to accommodate the other elements as well as entirely different game genres. As I mentioned in the article, that is just simply beyond my experience…or I would have been all over it. lol Dang it if I don’t like my FPS MP gaming to the exclusion of all else. 😉 Thank you for your comments, froley.

      By the way, I definitely like the science fiction theme/universe more than the fantasy/reality universe.

    • Blankman permalink*
      May 11, 2010 12:19 am

      I’m in the same boat with the Sci-Fi universe versus the reality universe. One clear example for me is how I simply could NOT get into GTA4 no matter how much I tried to finish the game. The reality aspect was something that I simply couldn’t get past. However, I’m chomping at the bit for Red Dead Redemption and they’re both open world & story driven. Although the Old West was reality in the past, it’s not a time that can be repeated in today’s society. That’s the thing that makes RDR more appealing to me.

  12. rEDChief55 permalink*
    May 11, 2010 7:29 pm

    Suns after looking at it, I tried changing around the categories so that a person’s tendencies were more visible. Next time you’re on skype I’ll send it to you to show you what I mean

  13. 3Suns permalink
    May 29, 2010 12:06 am

    Today’s Penny Arcade made me think of both Gears of War and The GAP system.


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