5 Surprises from Our Demographic Survey

7 September 2017

Last week on the Stonemaier Games monthly e-newsletter, I shared a demographic survey with our 30k subscribers. The intent was to learn more about the people who follow Stonemaier Games beyond those who engage with us on social media. I focused on questions with actionable results.

I learned a lot from the survey, the results of which featured a few surprises. Today I’ll share that data with you along with my conclusions and questions.

I asked this question because I think it’s important to the long-term success of Stonemaier Games if our games are appealing to all genders. The same could be said for other types of diversity–hence why Charterstone features characters of different genders, races, and ages–but gender seemed the most actionable.

The survey asked if a person was male, female, or other (a write-in result). I have to admit that I was REALLY surprised by how few women filled out the survey compared to men. We had enough responses to make me think this is indicative of our overall subscribers. The weekly game night I host is almost 50/50 men/women, so even though I know that isn’t normal, I thought this data would be closer.

I don’t know how this compares to other game companies. Does it mean that among all gamers, only 8% are women? Probably not. It may not even mean that among all Stonemaier fans, only 8% are women.

But the results are skewed enough that it indicates a significant imbalance between male and female Stonemaier Games fans. Why do you think that is, and what can we do about it?

I asked this question because I thought it might illuminate our core audience and reveal some gaps. Sure enough, there’s a huge audience missing: those who are 20 or younger.

This is surprising to me because I’m sure high schoolers and college kids are playing games. They may not be board games, but I’m sure they’re playing games. Yet somehow they’re not buying our games (or, at least, they’re not subscribing to our e-newsletter). Is this indicative of an entire generation of people who don’t play board games?

There was a time when we discussed an initiative to target college students. Perhaps we should have pursued that, or perhaps it would have just been a waste of time. I often recommend to Kickstarter creators that they focus on the backers they have instead of those they don’t have. The same applies here.

What do you think this data reveals?

I asked this specific question because I’ve had lots of discussions over the last few months about local vs. online stores and how we can support both without isolating either.

I would say that these results were a pleasant surprise. I think the game industry is healthiest when both local and online stores are viable, as they serve different purposes for different types of people. Even though it’s skewed towards online stores, 32% for local stores is still a significant number of people. It indicates to me that I should continue to support local stores while respecting the online stores’ market share (and our relationships with them).

Were you surprised by this result? What does it mean to you? I’m curious to see how these results change over time.

I asked this question because I’m fascinated by pricing economics, and I see different companies take different approaches with various degrees of success. You see a $10 game like Mint Delivery on Kickstarter raise over $100k, and on the opposite end of the spectrum you see Fantasy Flight say that “there is no maximum” price for Twilight Imperium 4th Edition.

This is also a question I ask to retailers and distributors: At what price point do they see a significant drop-off in sales?

The data is a little hard to read, so I’ll lump it into two groups: About 30% of people will pay a maximum of $60 for a game they really want. Another 30% will pay $70-$80, and the final 40% will pay $100 or more.

This amount of flexibility for a must-have product is encouraging. To me, it means that we should continue to respect consumers’ wallets when we price games, because we’ll lose a significant chunk of people if we don’t. However, it also means that if we want to release a truly premium mass-market product, there’s a significant audience for it.

What did you learn from this data?

Finally, the last question of the survey was about whether or not people would fill out a survey if there wasn’t an incentive to do so (we offered a Token Trilogy to one lucky winner). I rarely give away our products for free (we don’t do or support giveaways or raffles) unless there’s a specific return on investment. In this case, the ROI is information–without the incentive, 950 fewer people would have responded to the survey.

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I hope this data was helpful for you, and I look forward to hearing your insights and interpretations in the comments!

56 Comments on “5 Surprises from Our Demographic Survey

  1. As long as Surveys are brief I am always willing to fill one out. I will add to my vote on the survey that the prize did lead me to fill it out immediately, but i would of done it regardless.

  2. I’m honestly not that surprised by either of the first two questions, gender or age, skewing data for Stonemaier. I think the type of game, the play time, and the general style/theme would be right in line with what the data suggests. Stonemaier titles aren’t typically aimed at casual gamers, or younger audiences, are they?

    If the same questions were asked of Mint Works backers for example, or Unstable Unicorns, I think it would have a wider disparity of male vs. female, and the age range might shift down a little. For our most recent Kickstarter which was aimed at casual gamers, family gamers, and those who want a 5-10 minute pick up and play experience, I’d estimate we were much closer to 35-40% female to 60-65% male in our ~1100 backers.

    The artwork would play another large factor here. While Scythe has some amazing artwork, my fiancee’s first impression of the box when my Kickstarter arrived was that it was going to be a long (90-120 minute listed play time), hard/complex, war-based mech game that she didn’t want to try. She loves Sushi Go, Oregon Trail, BattleGoats, games she can play in 10-20 minutes, explain to new players herself, and just enjoy relaxing.

    The price point data is the one that surprises me the most. I think this falls back to the Stonemaier demographic though. The fact that 90% of respondents were over $50, and nearly half were willing to go at least up to $100 shows people are willing to purchase quality products, and at this point I think that’s an expectation of a Stonemaier game, so it fits.

    So while I think the data is relevant and useful, I think it also fits right in line with the estimates I would have had.

  3. “I asked this question because I think it’s important to the long-term success of Stonemaier Games if our games are appealing to all genders.”

    “But the results are skewed enough that it indicates a significant imbalance between male and female Stonemaier Games fans. Why do you think that is, and what can we do about it?”

    Which game that is more successful than yours (and I assume you’d probably want to measure that in terms of both long-term sales and critical review) appeals more equally to both men and women?

    1. Paul: Well, honestly, my hope is that ALL of our games appeal equally to men and women. Viticulture is a game about making wine, so it’s gender-neutral. Euphoria is set in a brightly colored dystopian world–dystopian literature is very popular among women. Between Two Cities is gender-neutral, and while Scythe features mechs (which probably appeal more to men), more of the characters are female than male. And Charterstone has a balance of men and women and is otherwise a gender-neutral theme.

      1. Well, that was my thinking too, Jamey. I’ll think on it more but my gut instinct is that you’ve done what can already be done without risking specifically targeting one gender.

        I suspect there are more men than women that play board games, but not by nearly as much as these results show. I suspect, as others have suggested, that men tend to be more into deep research/deep engagement with games rather than just playing and enjoying the games. Certainly that is my experience from my extended gaming group.

        I think you’re doing great on this topic. I would counsel caution in changing your approach very much at all.

        1. I agree with Paul. As someone who has regularly run and analyzed surveys for companies, you have to recognize that your survey takers may not be representative of your consumers and/or target audience, but rather, it’s indicative of the audience that pays attention to the channel(s) via which you made your survey available AND of the subset of your audience that is vested in replying to surveys…

      2. There are several women in our gaming group who were surprised to enjoy Scythe as much as they did. Without playing Scythe it’s easy to assume it’s a war game (“This looks like Risk with mechs!”), and the women in our gaming group tend to dislike games that involve a lot of confrontation and aggression.

        It’s great you designed Scythe in such a way that warmongering is usually not very successful, with the main focus being on economic strategy, and this makes it appeal to a wider group of people.

        This isn’t immediately obvious from the theme, which is top notch in my opinion. Theme isn’t always indicative of how the game will play but is important for capturing peoples’ imaginations. And in our very gender-imbalanced society, what captures the average woman’s imagination is different from what captures the average man’s imagination.

        Hopefully that’ll be more equalised in the next generation. Interestingly your age data implies that most of the responders are probably parents. It would be interesting to know how they are passing on their love of board games to their children, who will become your missing demographic soon.

  4. Regarding the gender results, I’ve seen similar things in video game surveys and I don’t think it’s indicative of the “gamer” population. I think it shows more who is doing things like subscribing to newsletters, reading game websites, checking/engaging with game forums, etc.. That is, what population is engaging the community outside of the activity itself.

    My wife plays both video games and board games, but NEVER researches them. I’m the one spending time scanning Reddit, watching Youtube videos, and checking various other websites. I would bet that this is a common scenario. But maybe not. ;-)

    1. My thoughts are very much with Mike here – I think your survey shows lots of males subscribe to your Stonemaier Ambassador emails, but nothing else with regards to who is playing your games.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of couples who play these games, but the male partner is the one signing up for the emails.

      Ooh, new thought – Scythe. I’m sure that game skews the responses hugely – it’s a massive game, and leans heavily towards typically a male audience (greater core strength required to pick up the box etc ;), or more seriously, it looks like a war game (I know it’s not), and has big stompy robots on it). If a large number of newsletter subscribers come from that game, it may also be showing up in the results.

  5. My wife and sister in law both happily play boardgames Inc lots of viticulture but I don’t think either of them have ever actually bought one. Not sure if this dynamic of dudes being more involved in buying decions as opposed to just playing games factors in as your game designs are certainly not unfriendly to females so that result really surprised me

  6. Age and Gender – It’s plausible these results are due to differing ways people engage with both the internet in general, and boardgame publishers in specific. No evidence for gender that I know of but e-mail, which is how you informed people about the survey, is starting to become more age specific, and that age isn’t just ‘pensioners are less likely to use it’ anymore – https://techcrunch.com/2016/03/24/email-is-dying-among-mobiles-youngest-users/ which may have biased the data in both cases (though as I say I don’t have any figures for how likely different genders are to subscribe to an e-newsletter)

    e-mail isn’t as universal a medium as people sometimes thing it is, basically, and while I get you wanted to know about the people who engaged with Stonemaier more closely and figure out what that demographic was, the way you defined that – subscribe to your e-newsletter – may have hidden some portions of your core demographics.

      1. I’m not Stephen, but I’d say more engagement with social media, specificially Instagram and/or Snapchat. I do surveys on the first day of my classes each year and one of the questions is always “which social media app do you use most frequently?” and for the past few years Instagram and Snapchat have dominated the top spots. Twitter is dropping off significantly, and I find it skews more heavily to my older students. Text, IG, and Snapchat are how my 18-25 year olds connect.

        1. This is a good reminder that I really need to figure out Instagram. It’s a weird platform for me because it’s built for mobile creation and consumption, while I try to look at my phone as much as possible (compared to my computer screen with a normal keyboard). But I appreciate the insight, and it sounds like I need to venture into it!

          1. I agree very much with what James commented. Social media is where the kids are. I’ve learned enough from your blog I’d be happy to share some of my experiences with you on the topic of Instagram. I run social for Razer and we boast almost 2 million followers with a massive average engagement rate of over 55k likes per post.

            Feel free to reach out via email if you’re interested. Either way really appreciate the content you produce. One of the few great examples of content marketing in the board game space.

      2. Without changing the people you were trying to get responses from – people more engaged than simply following on social media? That’s an interesting one, and may be down to how people can engage with Stonemaier more deeply than social media, if there’s a gender and/or age difference in the use of e-mail (and there certainly seems to be with age) there may be a gender and/or age bias in the way you’re distributing the information in the newsletter, rather than who’s wanting to engage with you as deeply as the newsletter. At the moment, how can people engage with Stonemaier more deeply than following on social media if they don’t read e-newsletters, which might be a demographically biased set.

        Your blog is currently focused on design lessons, with a current news page that updates each month (which in turn doesn’t trigger wordpress update notifications, or at least doesn’t trigger my blog update e-mails that I get when you make a kickstarter lessons blog entry) and an archive of old news entries. Switching the news to a blog (possibly separate from kickstarter lessons) could e-mail people subscribed to the newsletter but also notify people who use rss feeds for blog updates.

        Additionally, it may be worth considering making news videos with the same information as the newsletter in, on top of the favourite mechanic and kickstarter lesson videos, as I know Portal Games does with weekly updates on what’s happening in Portal Games of interest to people engaged with them as a brand.

        Of course, different methods of engagement may require different approaches to how you distribute information in them.

    1. I suspect that experiences with overt and structural sexism in public discussions of games has persuaded many women that engaging with online communications or store employees isn’t worth it. Even it’s supportive 90% of the time, that 10% can be revolting enough that it’s not worth the risk.

      I think there are some ways that’s being deliberately changed, but I fear it’s a terribly slow process using only the methods I know (most of which are obvious, anyway). Hopefully others have more innovative and successful suggestions.

  7. I wonder if the reason you are not seeing so many younger people, is that it is more likely someone else (e.g. a parent) bought the game for them and so the parent is on your mailing list, I guess it depend son who signs up to your mailing list, historically it would of course have been people buying your games on your kickstarters but now more people will be siging up via the website and even here on facebook.

    Also you could check your demographics for your Stonemaier Games community on facebook (assuming facebook treats communities the same as pages then go to the Stonemaier Games Community click on insights and then on the next menu click on people near the bottom of the left hand side. Be interesting to see if that matches up with what your survey told you.

    1. Andrew: Sure, that’s definitely possible about parents buying games for their kids.

      As for the Facebook demographics, it looks like 12% are women and 87% of men. The ages align with the e-newsletter survey.

      1. That’s interesting our facebook insights are 21% female, 78% male. Age wise it is like yours in the middle with 25-34 and 35-44 both taking 33% (i.e. 66% total between 25 and 44) but we do have 11% in the 18-24 age group

          1. When I go to a big con… mostly men. When I go to smaller, invite-only events, definitely way closer to an even split (although never 50/50). I think the more intimate the event, when women know the people who are attending, the more comfortable we will be. If it wasn’t for work, I wouldn’t ever go to a big con again. I far prefer either gaming at my own house with friends I am very familiar with or going to a small event (100-ish people or less) where everyone has been vetted by a long standing attendee (there are several events I do that are like this). In those cases I know everyone will be cool. No creepers. (Super important for women) And that we will feel like family soon if not already. I have no idea if other women feel the same way but from the numbers attending, I suspect so. :)

  8. Barry and Mike: I think there might be some truth to the idea that more men buy and consume game-related content, whereas a higher number of women actually play games. Do you think that should impact the way a publisher markets their games (whether through game selection or advertising)?

    1. I think this is true, in general, from what I see… I’m the abnormal one here as Richard lets me do most of the research and buy most of our games… but that is probably because I am in the industry so naturally do some of that as part of my “job”… other women in gaming that I know seem more content to get together and play but don’t talk about consuming game related content on the internet to the degree my guy friends do. I think Stonemaier Games has done a great job in being inclusive (such as providing strong female characters in Scythe for us to play) and that is all really we can ask right. :) It is nice to see a variety in art style and such too… Charterstone will bring in more women I think because of the cute art… and once they are hooked, it may spark some interest in checking out your other games.

    2. I buy games a lot based on theme and sometimes it is based on a theme that really appeals to me, but other times it is based on it being a theme I think my wife could really get into, or my kids. I have kids from gradeschool up thru college age playing and interested in your games (and a wide variety of other games), but none of them engage in any way beyond the gaming table. Except my wife researched extra Dixit decks once and she’ll fwd me Amzn deals on games when she sees them.

  9. You missed the most important thing Jamey… who won? Or should I say when shall I be expecting an email to confirm my address :D

  10. I would say the age question is “relatively” easy… I would bet every age group plays games. However, with the prices of top tier games increasing, it’s more likely that people who are more financial established can afford to buy game after game. ie. ages 30-50 as reflected in the survey.

  11. You may have already seen this, but I love the survey information that Quantic Foundry has shared on their web page about “board gamer” characteristics (e.g., gender, solo players; see their blog: http://quanticfoundry.com/blog/). While it’s all interesting, I find their gamer motivational model particularly fascinating. I guess it’s kind of like the Myers Briggs for board game enthusiasts. It helped me understand why I have more (or less) fun with certain friends when playing games.

  12. I have seen a lot of talk about diversity in gaming recently, particularly with regard to women. My personal experience (which I recognize isn’t necessarily the same as other people’s) is that I have always felt very welcome and included. I have been in this hobby for 12 years and I can honestly say there isn’t a single time ever where I felt out of place or unwelcome as a woman.

    I’m not sure why more women don’t game…. I suspect that it is simply that on average, more women prefer to do other things. I’ve never been a “typical” girl. I never enjoyed shopping (I loathe it, actually). I don’t enjoy “girls nights,” going out, getting pampered at spas, or other things like that which many women and girls love. I am lucky that I have always felt at ease with guys, in fact more at ease than I feel with other women, by a significant margin. That has left me with very few girlfriends, but very at home in the gaming community. I suspect that the main reason that many women don’t game is that they 1) Simply don’t enjoy the activity of gaming itself and/or 2) Don’t feel as comfortable as I do in rooms that are 90% men. (several have told me that is the main issue for them)

    The first… well there isn’t much we can do about that I think. If they don’t like playing games then what are you gonna do? :) People just like different things. For the second point we can try to entice more women to play but I have to caution this… the ONLY time I felt insulted in the past 12 years in gaming was when someone invited me to a gaming event “because we need more women!”. I’m sure they meant well, but the thought that I am invited somewhere specifically because of my gender is actually insulting and offensive. I am not one to take things like this very seriously so I didn’t get super upset but if I’m being honest even I felt a little insulted by this. I want to be treated like everyone else and what I want is for my gender to be completely irrelevant. It is on par with what I’m sure many minorities feel if someone insinuates that they only got a job or got into a college because of their race. It is insulting. So, please guys, be careful when including women that you aren’t going so far out of your way to encourage them to participate that they get the idea that you only want them because of their sex.

    I think we should be friendly and supportive to all people who are testing the waters in our hobby…. not push people who aren’t into it do it (My mom and sisters in law for example all enjoy a little dabble in it but essentially don’t have a love of gaming like I do. No need to pressure people. That does not make people feel welcome). I think we should make a safe place and make sure we are watching others enough to be aware if someone is violating the safe space women need to feel to be comfortable. If a man is being pushy, overly flirty, or otherwise inappropriate or offensive, it is important that you make sure it is taken care of and that woman feels safe. Women are physically weaker on average and that is scarier than most men probably imagine. I have been assaulted physically… and while different (I was shoved to the ground and robbed at gunpoint) it left a lasting impression on me how vulnerable I am compared with men. Others may have had even worse experiences that leave them frightened to be in the company of many men, even if they don’t admit it publicly or talk about it openly. Helping to make sure that women aren’t “creeped out” by men in our hobby is important. :)

    That being said, I want to say that I personally have had excellent experiences with men in the hobby. I have felt I have been treated better by men in board gaming than men in the world in general. :) That’s for sure. :) To some degree, you see what you want to see… and I think I generally see the best in people and am oblivious to any bad intentions until things become painfully obvious. :) But not everyone is like that, and making sure that women feel safe and comfortable is a good start I think. Being welcoming and friendly but not creepy and having board game events in places that don’t seem like dungeons (so, they generally smell nice and have good lighting) lol would also be a step in the right direction I think for enticing more female players. :)

    One more note… and I might get some push back on this… because it sounds kind of mean… but this is coming from someone who spent years as a “single” gamer, years dating someone outside the hobby, and now some years dating someone inside the hobby… I can say that gaming was somewhat more problematic before Richard. :) If you are single, guys, please keep in mind that a new single woman in the hobby isn’t necessarily looking to date you, or anyone else. In a hobby with 80+% men, you can’t even begin to imagine how annoying it can be to feel like “fresh meat” :) I’m pretty good at getting to the point and making it clear that I’m not interested. So for me it hasn’t been a huge problem. But not all women feel comfortable dealing with that situation. Some girls are shy or just don’t want to hurt people’s feelings… and that could be something that discourages single women and girls from such a predominately male dominated hobby. I personally know a number of single females that have all confided in me that they have been approached and you could say “pursued” by the same couple of males as I was in my single days. I know it must be hard to refrain sometimes and I know having a girlfriend who games is probably attractive in many ways… please make sure you aren’t part of a circle of vultures, frightening the new girl. :)

    That being said, many people have met their partners in gaming, so what do I know. :)

    Balance and moderation in everything I guess… Be nice to us, show us we are valued for our minds and not just our bodies, make us feel safe…. and the minority of us that love gaming will stick around and encourage others to do the same. :D

    1. Cynthia: This is extremely informative–thank you for taking the time to write this. While I haven’t invited people to my game night because of their gender, what you said about that type of invitation is really good to know, as well as how some women may not feel comfortable at gaming events because of the sheer number of men there (and the way they’re treated when they attend).

    2. Well said, Cynthia. I somewhat regularly attend several different game nights where there are usually just 1-3 women out of 12+ gamers. I have never been treated unkindly or offensively, but it still feels super weird. If I weren’t motivated by wanting to try *all the games*, I’d be very unlikely to return. And so the cycle continues.

      But that dynamic is largely outside a publisher’s control. What’s going on in game publishing that might be less interesting to women? Off the top of my head: art using comic book tropes depicting women with physically impossible proportions and ridiculous clothing; games that have no female characters in them at all; a lack of diversity in themes (although I think that’s improving); a lack of women’s names on game boxes…

      I don’t think Stonemaier is the problem here, but is in an industry where there are still a lot of problems.

      1. Exactly… I’m willing to play a wide variety of games but art is important to me. I’m less likely to enjoy a game that depicts females with unrealistic bodies which are over-sexualized. That tells me that the publisher is making this game for men and don’t care if they create things offensive to women. I like female characters being included (although for me it isn’t crucial) but if you are going to include them, try to make them strong characters but not overly sexy, or only stereo-typically feminine (princesses). Scythe already does a great job of this. Female characters in Scythe are ones you would be proud to be. Some other games aren’t doing as well. lol but over all I think publishers are starting to get it. :) I’m encouraged by the direction.

        I’ve heard a number of complaints about not having enough female game designers. But… I don’t get it… it can’t exactly be helped that far less women even attempt to design games. :) And I wouldn’t want a woman’s game to get special treatment just because she is a woman. So, until more women get interested in the designing part of our hobby (I have no interest in it myself, although I love playtesting) that won’t change.

    3. Regarding the age topic, I am very certain it does not say much about who plays your games (although I suspect they do skew older seeing your topics like Viticulture), but mostly about 1) who reads you website/supports you on KS – because they make up the majority of your newsletter group and 2) who pays for games as opposed to to who plays them (see disposable income topic in previous posts) and c) the email medium being for the elderly.
      If you asked the same thing on Twitter or facebook, I suspect results would differ.
      I know we play a lot of board games as a family and so do most board gamers I know, but my kids would never hear of your or your survey – doesn’t mean they don’t love your games. :)

  13. For the gender split, I am not surprised by it… there are just overwhelmingly more more male gamers than female gamers, and men are generally more invested in the games than the women who play. Just from personal experience, the bi-weekly board game meetup I go to usually has about 30 people, composed of on average 28-30 guys and 0-2 girls. At the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC), about 75-80% of the gamers were guys, with an even higher percentage of that getting through to the semi-finals/finals. And just in my family, me and my brothers will play board games every week, while my sister and sister-in-law will only play a few games, if we ask them to because we need another player. They have fun when playing a board game, but it’s not their first choice of an activity.

    I’ve read articles about studies where men’s brains are on average wired more to activate the reward center when doing things like playing video games, which I assume is the same with board games. Obviously this isn’t universal, but on average, that’s just the way we were born.

    So while you can try to make your games open to both genders… I wouldn’t expect you to ever come close to a 50-50 split, unless the game is overwhelmingly a “girl game”, in which case you would lose a lot more male sales than you would gain in female sales. So as long as your games are inclusive and not offending either gender, I wouldn’t worry about the gender split, it’s just reflective of the overall gamer gender split.

    1. I have to agree… I think aside from making your games inclusive and inoffensive, I don’t think you can control much about how many women play them. I think as PLAYERS we can help some by making a more inviting environment to play, and that will help. But that isn’t something Stonemaier Games can really do much about.

      I don’t think we will ever see as many women wanting to play board games. And I think that is ok. As long as we aren’t driving them away.

  14. The response about where games are purchased is intriguing to me. I’ve heard multiple times and from different folks in the industry that the vast majority of games are purchased from local game stores. It was one of the arguments put forth last year why ANA’s 2-tiered pricing structure would not impact that many people overall–that local sales dwarf the online sales. Yet, your responses indicate much the opposite. How well does this 2:1 split correlate with your non-KS game sales?

  15. On gender- my group changes depending on day and game, but usually playing are me and one other man, and 2-4 women. For Scythe, we’re typically a 2M/3F split. But, I tend to be the one backing kickstarters and buying board games. So even though the majority of our players are women, I’m the one who is probably going to fill out a survey.

  16. The age discrepancy between those under 20 and over 20 really does not surprise me. Consider these two factors:

    Factor #1: Board gaming requires face-to-face interaction, which in turn requires transportation. When you are younger, you do not always have easy access to transportation. The ubiquity, depth, and breadth of online gaming obviates the need for transportation, so younger people naturally gravitate toward it if they have the inclination to play games. This probably starts in the early teens and carries on for some period of time until the next factor.

    Factor #2: Aging is no fun, and two things happen to humans when we age. First, our perception of time speeds up. This is due to a number of factors like changing levels of certain neurochemicals, and for any given time period, it will always be an ever shrinking percentage of the life we’ve lived. The other thing that happens is we become less quick. Quick-twitch muscles don’t fire as fast, and reaction times slow. So at some point, we just can’t hold our own against the 14-year olds of the world in PvP games, or fail to hold our own in PvE games. So naturally, as aging gamers (now with cars), we look for other methods of gaming where we can still be competitive.

    Of course, there are always exceptions on both sides of this, but I’m guessing that these two factors generally hold true for the large majority of people…even if it’s not a conscious decision to start gaming one way or another. I’m also sure there are many other subtle and not so subtle factors at work, but this is what occurred to me when I saw those results.

  17. Thank you for sharing the results! I find that really interesting. I know a lot of women who play board games, but most of them play because it is a fun way to interact with friends. They don’t read about or buy games. I can confirm what others have stated earlier, that it’s not the players that read the newsletters, it’s the geeky researchers. Some women are geeky researchers like me, but I think that 8% is an accurate number. I don’t see that as a problem you should try to solve, but it might be useful to know that most female players don’t seek information about new and interesting games. They are more likely to buy whatever they see on the shelf when they go to the book store. I think that reading the newsletters can be compared to watching a movie and then watching it again with the commentary tracks. It’s a special form of commitment, and it’s not for everyone.

    When it comes to characters, I believe that it’s important to find someone you can identify with. Usually that means choosing “your” colour, so making it possible to be the pink or purple player is often something that appeals to women. In Scythe, that’s acctually a challenge when we let people choose (we sometimes do that when people in our group feels strongly connected to a character or someone wants to try a faction they never player) because the least experienced girls want to be Togawa and often find that faction hard to play. In our group I am usually blue, and must admit that I identify more with colour than gender, but it was a pleasant surprise to see that the blue character in Scythe is nordic like me and the blue character in Charterstone looks like me. One thing that could help women identify with characters (I believe that that’s something that’s more important to women, but I don’t really know that) is to include more characters than possible players, so we have more to choose from. In Flash point fire rescue where the players are saving people from a burning building, I modified the anonymous people by printing pictures of friends and family and gluing the pictures to the cardboard tokens. That didn’t do much difference for the men I play with, but it really made the women engage in the game.

    I also agree that Instagram and Snapchat are the best choice if you want to reach younger people. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in Norway it’s very clear that a typical 20 year old see facebook as something for parents and grandparents and e-mail is something formal they use when they need to communicate with a teacher or the government.

  18. Jamey,

    Regarding the last question focusing on a prize, there is another consideration. You would risk fatiguing your pool of repliers, but it would have been interesting to see how the percents changed on other questions based only on those who’d answer for “free.” Would the gender/age/acceptable pricing columns shift based on that? I would assume the only way to know for certain would be to offer the quiz w/o prize, and then again with, and comparing. Then again, as I type this it occurs to me that maybe you can isolate the subgroup who answered they would answer w/o or did not have prior knowledge.

    Is that something you can do? I’d personally be interested to know how things shifted if so.

      1. Fantastic! Is that something you are interested in examining yourself, and if so would you be willing to share even the big strokes results? I’m curious if SM Games fandom and/or altruistic tendencies have an impact on the results, and if so how.

          1. Fair enough. I know you are very savvy about these things, but considering the pool is entirely made up of SM mailing subscribers, be careful not to end up in a “yes man” echo chamber. I was just thinking the prize-less data set might have worked as a litmus test of sorts. (Die hard fans may be willing to pay more than the average fan for your work, etc.)

  19. I’m not too surprised about the 20 and under demographic being light. Think about disposable income at that age and what a commitment a $50-70 game is. I suppose fan doesn’t necessarily mean purchaser, though. Along those lines, I’d be curious to see the purchase price demographic segmented by age. My bet is older fans are willing to pay more, as would those who might self-designate as a biased hobby gamer (why get a Bud Light when you can get a Trappist Ale?).

  20. There are probably more than 8% female gamers, but I suspect the males are generally more addicated to gaming and hence the males are more likely to subscribe to gaming newsletters and respond to gaming surveys…amoungst my gaming group we have plenty of female gamers, they generaly are not quite as obsessed as us males!

  21. My teenagers rarely check or use email so the idea of subscribing to – and reading a newsletter is foreign to them. They are playing (and loving) your games, but you’re not going to connect to them via email or a newsletter. snapchat, Instagram, and possibly YouTube are your ways of accessing them. Indirectly, you can connect to them via me – their 40+ year old dinosaur, I mean, father. :-)

  22. I wouldn’t worry about the younger age groups not playing board games as much. I grew up with your basic “clue” and “monopoly” but spent most of my time with video games. Board game cafes and Internet forums are pushing it out for more people and they will eventually look into them. With places like target carrying more board games it’s starting to also show people there are more than your basic games and then they start to look into what games are out there.

  23. Good stuff Jamey. Although this shows that women are still woefully under-represented in the hobby, I think we are finally starting to see improvement. Two years ago my numbers (backers/followers) was about 4%. So while still way too low, it has doubled! I hope the trend continues.

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