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Richard Allan Bartle (born January 10, 1960, in England) is a British writer and game researcher, best known for being the co-author of MUD1, the first MUD. He is one of the pioneers of the massively multiplayer online game industry.

Life and career[]

Bartle received a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from the University of Essex, which is where he created MUD along with Roy Trubshaw, in 1978.[1]

He lectured at Essex until 1987, when he left to work full time on MUD (known as MUD2 in its present version). Recently he has returned to the university as a part-time professor and principal teaching fellow in the Department of Computing and Electronic Systems, supervising courses on computer game design as part of the department's degree course on computer game development.[2]

In 2003, he wrote Designing Virtual Worlds, a book about the history, ethics, structure, and technology of massively multiplayer games.

Bartle is also a contributing editor to Terra Nova, a collaborative blog that deals with virtual world issues.

Bartle did research on player personality types in massively-multiplayer online games. In Bartle's analysis, players of massively multiplayer online games can be divided into four types: achievers, explorers, socializers and killers.[3] This idea has been adapted into a popular online test generally referred to as the Bartle Test.[4] The test is very popular and scores are often exchanged on popular MMORPG forums, or networking sites.[5]

He presently lives with his wife, Gail, and their two children, Jennifer and Madeleine, in a village outside Colchester, England.

Bartle as critic[]

Richard Bartle has been quite criticial of historic games[6] and is critical of contemporary games, maintaining that most are poorly designed.[7] Famously, he declared that if he had control of World of Warcraft, he would shut it down, "I just want better virtual worlds. Sacrificing one of the best so its players have to seek out alternatives would be a sure-fire way to ensure that unknown gems got the chance they deserved, and that new games were developed to push back the boundaries."[8]

Bartle as a Player of MUDs and MMOs[]

Bartle has said that he does not find them playing MUDs or MMOs fun in the same way as regular players. As a designer he does not look at a game in terms of "just fun"; finding that he sees the game in terms of the art of its design. Like a magician who goes to watch another magician's show; he knows how all the tricks work, but enjoys the execution and mechanics nonetheless. Extending this analogy, a magician can invent new tricks all the better because of his different perspective.


  • International Game Developers Association "First Penguin Award", at the 2005 Game Developers Choice Awards, for his part in creating the first MUD.




  1. Bartle, R: "Interactive Multi-User Computer Games", section 1.5; Retrieved on 2009-01-05.
  2. "University of Essex Module Details - EE224-5-FY: Computer Games Architecture and Design"; Retrieved on 2009-01-05.
  3. Bartle, R: "Players Who Suit MUDs"; Retrieved on 2009-01-05.
  4. RPGDot, "You Shuffle, I'll Deal,"
  5. "Bartle Test - gamerDNA"; "Number of times taken: 532,945"; Retrieved on 2009-01-05.
  6. "Interactive Multi-User Computer Games"] Richard A. Bartle January, 21, 1999. See particularly "Reviews - Rest of the World"
  7. "Why Virtual Worlds are Designed By Newbies - No, Really!" opinion by Richard A. Bartle on Gamasutra.Com November 3, 2004
  8. "'I'd close World of Warcraft!' MUD creator Richard Bartle on the state of virtual worlds" interview on games blog by Keith Stuart, The Guardian Tuesday 17 July 2007

External links[]

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