IJsfontein Homepage

3 April 2023

When the world was made small by corona, I had just returned from the biggest adventure of my life. I walked the Appalachian Trail across the United States, 3,600 kilometres through the mountains. By myself with a tent and a backpack.

The trek felt like an exciting game
A game that challenged me (yet another mountain…), provided me options (I could also cross the river instead of walking around it), gave me confidence (I’m basically a mountain gazelle), gave me focus (daydreaming = tripping over a tree stump), connected me to something bigger (nature), and had an epic final goal (the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine). I had to get there. Not because anything depended on it, I’d feel like a loser if I didn’t, no, purely because I wanted to.


Because the experience itself was rewarding
A good game doesn’t give rewards, it is rewarding. By offering challenge, freedom and confidence, meaning and connection. This makes you want to play. And learn.

What is play for some, is not for others
Just as not everyone is eager to spend six months slogging through the mountains, not all elements of play work equally for everyone. Play is subjective. The trick is to deploy game elements that are meaningful. And that varies from person to person.

That is why UpTrek matches game elements to personality traits
By means of a user type test, which people take before training in UpTrek. User types represent the different motivations people may have for playing. There are six of them: the philanthropist, free spirit, achiever, player, socialiser and disruptor.

For philanthropists and socialisers, interaction is most important. But whereas the philanthropist mainly wants to help others, to be a ‘mentor’, the socialiser is more about (equal) communication and cooperation.

Achievers and players both want to achieve but have different motivations to do so. The achiever is motivated by mastery and wants to constantly improve himself. Think of chess, for instance. The player is mainly interested in rewards and the end result. Think of Uncle Harry who just wants to win a game of cricket and then relax on the couch with a beer.

For free spirits and disruptors, autonomy and self-expression are number one. But where the free spirit stays within the confines of the game, the disruptor prefers to exceed them. Take The Sims, a typical free-spirit game to create your own world and characters. The disruptor? That’s that person who builds a pool specifically to then drown everyone….

Your user type determines which game elements motivate you, or get in the way.  For instance, points can be rewarding for a player, but irritate a free spirit. And a disruptor wants to experiment with ethics, while a socialiser mainly wants to cooperate. In short: by tailoring game elements to one’s personality, playing becomes meaningful. 

This is how you get absorbed
And forget all the noise around you. You forget that you are soaked, shivering from the cold, twisted your ankle a little too often… The only thing that matters is that you are standing on top of Mount Washington in full storm. And the overwhelming realisation that you are experiencing something unforgettable.

Curious about UpTrek?
Get in touch with Saskia Kuin. Or visit us at the Next Learning Event on 18 April in Den Bosch and discover your own user type. For an exciting journey, you don’t need mountains. Only an UpTrek account.

by Julia Oostdam – content creator at IJsfontein