Adventure Together: Applying Archetypes to Game Design

Archetypes are everywhere. They are guiding, inspiring, possessing, ruling, and living through us every day.
October 20, 2021

It is an age-old question: "Who am I?" and it is a question that has been answered by philosophers, scientists, and theologians for centuries. Meaning is often found through our daily actions; and every decision we make is ultimately influenced by an archetype (or multiple archetypes) in some way. We all observe archetypes daily and we all have archetypes living inside us - it's just a matter of how aware we are to their presence!


Simply put: an archetype is a set pattern of behavior associated with historical psychology, modern psychology and literary analysis. Game design and the human psyche go hand in hand, so it's no surprise that game designers use archetypes to create engaging experiences for their players.

In studying narrative structures that take human psychology into consideration, we have benefitted from understanding archetypal patterns in order to craft better gameplay. Archetypal characters like The Hero or The Explorer make their way into our games and players find themselves unconsciously relating their in-game behavior and actions to the archetypes they embody. More simply put, players use the archetypal nature of their character to make decisions. For example, if a character embodies a warrior archetype, this character is more likely to be sent into battle, whereas a shape-shifting character who may embody a more shadowy, stealth-type archetype is better served sneaking around the landscape and avoiding direct confrontation with opponents. Inadvertently, you as the player understand the archetypal nature of your characters and you act and behave on their behalf - this has the beautiful affect of hurtling you into a state of play!


Aside from genuinely resonating with how we think about and assign meanings to things as human beings, archetypes are fun to think about. Did you know that a human being can embody thousands of archetypes in their lifetime? Throughout your life, you are and have been: a mentor, hero, threshold guardian, explorer, joker, anti-hero, anti-mentor...the list goes on. If you are aware, you can recognize the presence of these archetypes in others. One of the chief roles of a human being is to make order out of chaos, and that is exactly what our brains are doing when we think about archetypes.

Do you consider archetypal psychology essential to gameplay or game design? Join the discussion on our Forum:

Adventure Together

Adventure Together is a tabletop publishing and technology company dedicated to creating immersive gaming experiences for enthusiasts and casual gamers alike. Our flagship tabletop experience, TimeScape, is an accessible and family-friendly miniature wargame set in a captivating sci-fi and fantasy universe at the end of time. TimeScape's unique gameplay experience is enhanced by the Scape system, a modular board game system that offers endless terrain customization and replayability - so you can adventure across countless worlds. Discover the fascinating worlds of TimeScape and other exciting gaming experiences from Adventure Together by joining our community Discord or signing up for our monthly Kickstarter newsletter.

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