5 Surprises from Our Demographic Survey

7 September 2017 | 100 Comments

If you’re looking for the results of the 2018 survey, please click here.

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.


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

Leave a Comment

100 Comments on “5 Surprises from Our Demographic Survey

  1. My experience with my play group is that all genders enjoy SM games (Between Two Cities, Scythe, etc.), but as far as I know, I am the only one to fill out the survey.

    I think you should consider the flaws of your survey mechanism (I mean that in a non-judgemental way). How many subscribers to the SM games are male/female? I would bet, that survey audience is skewed, not the actual audience of the games.

    This is a an amateur version of real market research. It takes time and money. Relying on those gamers that are signed up for the email blast is a mistake. The surveys will only tell you about that specific demographic.

    So, the deductions you can make, is that the SM mailing list is primary signed up for by men between the ages of 20-50. In other words, the BGG crowd. The demographic that has shown it will go online and interact with the hobby in that specific method.

    But just by relying on an online survey, you have already skewed your survey results:

    While this doesn’t show a gender bias, more research might show one regarding who is more likely to sign up for a newsletter, who is more likely to respond to a survey email, etc.

    I think this is a very common problem in the board game industry. Companies do not know who is buying their games or why. They assume that the people they meet at Gencon (etc.) are the face of the average player, when really it is the face of the average game convention consumer. How big is the difference? I don’t think there is reliable data in that regards.

    I personally would recommend putting survey postcards in your games. That will at least give you some information on who is buying your games. Maybe include some information about who the buyer plays with.

    Very cool to see you take some steps in knowing your players. Most other companies (FFG, Plaid Hat, Z-Man, Steve Jackson, CMON, et. al. ) do not and instead decide internally who their games appeal to (which is kind of backwards) and then work from there. Best of luck.

  2. As a statistician, I look at those first two questions differently. You would have to collect more data, but my guess is that the difference has more to do with who is a subscriber and who is filling out the survey, rather than who is playing your games.

    I regularly play Scythe with my ex-wife, and have played Viticulture over 150 times with my girlfriend (as well as at least 50 games of other SM titles combined). Those two games are their favorite board games. I also play with a mixed group that is about 60% male. That being said, I think only two of the guys and possibly one trans female filled out the survey.

    For age, while we have a teen that plays board games with us. That being said, she is not the type to fill out a survey, as I think would be the case with more teens.

    So again, looking at who is a subscriber (those who will get the invitation to fill out the survey) and who is willing to fill out a survey, most likely has more to do with the results than who is actually playing and buying your awesome games.

  3. I found it interesting so few female gamers responded, but as a gender-queer/female gamer myself, I’m not entirely surprised, though my personal experience skews very differently. In most of my gaming groups, women outweigh the men, and in another it’s about 50/50 (and in THAT group the women tend to be the die-hard gamers) but in all of those groups it tends to be the guys who would be more likely to investigate, research, or somehow get involved in games outside of playing them despite many of the women being just as voracious about playing.

    As far as age goes, my groups tend to be in the 30s-40s age range, though in my 50/50 gender group it is younger into the 20s but it’s in a National Park — meaning workers tend to be seasonal and thus young, with little else to do, and if they’re rangers they tend to be geeky anyway. :)

  4. I am a teacher and I run an after school board game club. It is pretty large and while there are slightly more boys than girls. We do still have a lot of girls. So I am going to assume I am not the only one and that a lot of kids play your games. I will say that when I need to get a hold of them to change a date or schedule a day during vacation Instagram is certainly the way I reach the most of them.

    I only filled out one survey but I actually reach many people. So that skews the data slightly also. Especially, if there are more like me who run some sort of game night.

  5. I have not read through all the comments (there’s too many of them!), so this may be a repeat of what has already been said, but I feel compelled to point it out, anyway:

    With regards to the gender and online vs LGS imbalance, keep in mind that this survey is housed on the internet. Based on demographics studies, you can expect the gender of someone who follows your online postings to be male (they are far more active in online gaming communities than women), and to make the majority of their purchases online (after all, they are active online). I would not be surprised to see these numbers are much more balanced if you were able to get a 100% response rate from every one of the people who purchased Stonemeier gaming products.

    Also, I know this post is old. Still relevant, though. :)

  6. naity: That’s a great point, and I like that summary: “every customer is a user but not every user is a customer.”

    Perhaps one conclusion is that I should sell more to men but design for both men and women.

  7. Hello Jamey,

    thanks for the very interesting article. If I read your article correctly, there is maybe something that biased the result, especially when it comes to age and maybe to a certain extend when it comes to gender: the requesting method (aka through newsletter).

    I might be wrong, as much as they might – or might not – play your game, not many 20- years old player subscribe to newlettter animore. They might be off to other platforms to keep up with the news they like to get (instagram, snapchat or whatever) but the idea of thinking “I like what this company is doing, where can I find their newsletter to get updated?” seems almost anachronical in 2018 ^^.

    About gender, I have the same impression than you: I used to be active in a huge gaming group in Lyon (France) where a gaming room was rented on this purpose only, with hundreds of players being part of it and gaming night happening every day of the week with about 20-30 player per days. And it seemd equally full of mens and womens.

    Right now I am in Munich (Germany) where a friend of mine holds a weekly french speaking board game night. The representation is not equal, the groups is small (4-12 people depending on the night) but there is usualy more womens than men (I would say a 60%/40% repartition).

    I see the effort you put into making your games appealing for everyone, I love the fact Scythe for example includes female war leaders that are not hyper sexualised but just “normal” war veterans and feel like they are the equal of their male counterpart.

    Speaking of Scythe, which theme (war & mechs) seems more appealing to the traditional view of “male geek interests”, the Art of Jakub Rosalski is gorgeaous and changes the game a little: I’ve lived in Poland a little (this is where I discovered this amazing artist) and I know his art there is also very appealing for girl friends of mine – it is even the reason why some of them purchased the game in the first place.

    So my view is probably biased by the non representative ammount of “statistical subjects” but I also see about the same ammount of girls and mens playing games – including yours. but it might not be the only explaination to the results of your survey. When Ilook at all the girls and womens I know and play with, I think none of them would have taken the survey if they recieved it. They just do not care about their online presence, sharing their passion with strangers online. None of them are acive in forums (where the men/women repartition seems to be also completely off the balance). And it is perfectly fine. There might be different reasons to that – I do not have any assumption. But I just observe that their online representation in forums, comment sections… etc to be quite low. And that might be one of the aspect that falsed the results. It might be interesting to cross them with the public analysis available on your youtube channel, which might be slightly more accurate on your audience.

    Just my 50 cents, I do not know if I was clear (the language barrier is not helping) but I hope so ^^.

    1. naity: Thank you for sharing this! I agree that there’s potentially a big difference between e-newsletter subscribers and people who are actually playing/buying our games. What concerns me is that I would prefer to have a direct line of communication to our entire consumer audience, not just the men.

      Just FYI, I checked my YouTube channel analytics, and 93% of viewers are men.

      1. Thanks for the response :)

        Well, then maybe those numbers are accurate and your audience is mostly masculine ‘^^.It surprises me too though. It would be interesting to see if a “monster” like Asmodee have a big global survey on the matter and/or if a smaller publisher with lighter games such as Libellud gets to a different result.

        Also I took the chance today to subscribe to the newsletter after I spent more time on your blog. I really like the way you view the whole industry and the sensible passion and honesty taht you put into it. It is very inspiring, keep it up ;)

          1. One last thought that crossed my mind and I stop spamming your comment section: your customers are not your users (or rephrased: every customer is a user but not every user is a customer).

            It is inherent to tabletop gaming (or as we call it in france and in germany: society games) you play with people and not everyone needs to buy a copy of the game to play. This simple truth crossed my mind when rethinking about the board game group I play with in Munich: a girl organizes it, the participant are 60% feminine and 40% masculine, but the games are brought 75% by the mens (we are 4 to provide the games for the game evenings: 3 guys and a girl). As a matter of fact, the girl organizing the evening does not own games (or just a few, she does not have the financial means to afford buying boardgame).

            In a lot of gaming couples I know, the men buys the game (mine is an exception, my girlfriend is much more into gaming than I am). Maybe it is beacause of persistant patricarchal values (men strong, men work, men provide), maybe it is out of financial balance (global survey still show big differences between mens carreer and revenue potential, more housewives than househusbands) but it could be that both observations don’t contradict themselves: 50% of the users of your games could be womens but they would also be 5-10% of your customers.

  8. I hope you read this since it is important to my wife. She appreciates a equal cast of male and female characters. She does not appreciate genders being forced into a games design. Some designers are creating games that only have females or a unequally weighted toward females where the forced inclusion distracts from the theme and story.

    Board games are not like video games where some males enjoy creating scantily clad female characters to watch as they slice and shoot up monsters. To be blunt, every board gaming group I’ve played with, the men always choose male characters unless the female had a special ability and there were no males left. The women mostly choose female characters.

    If you trust your statistics (and most everyone elses questionnaires statistics), most gamers are male. Create games for your male demographics, while allowing females to join. (Duel sided playboards with males on one side and females on the other). Don’t overcompensate for the lack of female gamers by forcing female characters into a game to try to be inclusive. For my wife and I, it comes off as being disingenuous.

    I know this is a “sensitive” topic for some people and they want to respond with their feelings, but use hard statistical data to formulate a plan and not justify or explain away the male dominance in board games.

    1. Jon: Absolutely, I read every comment.

      I totally understand where your wife is coming from for the gaming industry in general, but not for Stonemaier Games. Our games feature a wide diversity of people.

      I’m actually really surprised by this comment: “Don’t overcompensate for the lack of female gamers by forcing female characters into a game to try to be inclusive. For my wife and I, it comes off as being disingenuous.”

      I’d like to challenge that a little bit with respect to your experience. Please don’t assume that publishers are “forcing” female characters into a game. If you see a female character in a game and dismiss it as a publisher “forcing” it, that’s a big dismissal without understanding the publisher’s intent. There could be a number of reasons why the publisher chose that gender, and sure, maybe one of those reasons might be because they value diversity. There’s nothing wrong with that. But more likely they chose that character because that’s part of the story they want to tell with the game.

      At Stonemaier Games, we both value diversity AND story. In most situations, we’re not going to sacrifice story with a generic character who could be either male or female. Rather, we’re going to tell the story of a specific character, and hopefully both men and women will be able to identify with that character.

      1. Thanks for the excellent response. You really are quite amazing with the dedication and commitment to connecting with the public.

        I hope my statement didn’t come off as targeting Stonemaier. This has never been our experience with your games.

        “I’m actually really surprised by this comment: “Don’t overcompensate for the lack of female gamers by forcing female characters into a game to try to be inclusive. For my wife and I, it comes off as being disingenuous.””

        This is refering to games like “One Deck Dungeon” and “Legacy of Dragonholt.” I just had a pretty horrible discussion on BBG for Dragonholt and I requested the thread to ne locked. My family enjoys and connects with your games and we just don’t want something like Dragonholt to happen here.

        It’s important for everyone to connect with characters in games, otherwise it alienates potential customers. You’ve done that without forcing any kind of characters to feel displaced in these worlds.

  9. On game night what are the percentage of women who show up with a significant other? I would think that’s why you have an abnormally 50/50. I read constantly how the game market fails to interest females at most age levels. As far as playing games, I see way more girls at work playing games on their phones than guys, the dudes are reading stuff and talking about cars, guns, people, girls while the girls tend to escape using games and social media platforms.

    While your games are absolutely brilliant I can see very easily why females aren’t generally going to be attracted to them. Women and girls tend to be attracted to soothing things and bright flashy stuff more often than men.

    Girls are wired different,I think that getting them into the board game market would have to be done using the artwork, game play and especially the genre and name of the game. Women tend to show up and play party games, games which get them physically involved. They don’t want to try to imagine they are in a dungeon waiting for a prince to rescue them, they want to dress up and act out or role play the maiden.

    Women do not tend to be loyal to a brand the way men do, they want the next hottest thing. What’s particularly fascinating is marketing to the daughter and the mom isn’t a whole lot different.

    A couple games which I know women love to play, The Farming Game by the Weekend Farmer, Apples to Apples and Outburst, Likewise and Wits and Wagers. None of these are pink games but they all allow non-essential mistakes to be made without grave consequences and they allow the players to stick it to others while laughing at themselves.

    As far as age goes, kids are playing poker tournaments and games which they can feel empowered over the other players with quick moving rounds. Kids play games that require them to hold onto something in their hands and also they love to try to keep secrets. Kids need to be able to explain the game rules to others very quickly as well. In my opinion a game which allows players to upload their scores onto social media and compare them to there friends, who are all in say a clan or group, and perhaps those scores allow that clan to move up an online leader board against other clans.

    The problem with marketing to kids is that they are going to go to school and go off the collage and have very busy lives so they will go off and forget about you and your game. Although when they have kids of their own then they just might go back to that one game they really loved.

    Final point on kids, I see them enjoying things like darts and other arcade style games in there basements. Kids will play pool and involve themselves in things that require skill, its all about learning to establish a hierarchy within there ranks.

    I think the reason your data on price is all over the place has to do with the way folks perceive the question, when you say maximum some are going to think average not this is the cap. Consider re-asking that question and asking folks “what’s the price you would WANT to pay?” Do it in five dollar increments.

    Consider Hasbro just launched a three games for $50 deal, you gotta think how much market research they did to arrive at that price.

    I have noticed that $120 is the general price corporations are going for when selling products these days. I would not categorize a board game as a product, its an experience, you’re selling an experience. We both know that changes like the wind. Folks don’t know what they want until they have experienced it. Folks also don’t like to try things new. That’s been one of the toughest things I’ve found out when trying to lure new customers.

    Getting someone to try something new happens with recommendation more often than with marketing.

    The most successful technique I’ve seen so far has been these charity coupons that give a buy one get one, or similar — that are sold to raise funds for a program and the business only gets the sale of one item plus the tax break for the free item they gave away.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Kevin. I think we have vastly different perspectives on women (in general and in gaming). While I do have some couples in my gaming group, there are 3 regulars who are women, and they like a wide variety of games. You mentioned some pretty broad generalizations about women in your comment, and while that may be reflective of your experience, I would caution you to not apply your experience to every woman in the world (or every man). We’re all different people.

  10. I have to wonder, how much of your marketing is geared towards women? Your products are certainly fair to both genders and appeal visually to both as well, but I know in general there are more men than women that do board game reviews. While this is certainly changing recently, how often do you target female reviewers to cover your games vs men? I saw one female in the video section of your Scythe Kickstarter previews (with a man), and there was a review from a woman for your Viticulture Kickstarter as well, though she had access to the game through someone in her game group.

    I think as there is more of a female voice in the review space you’ll see more activity from women in relation to board games. There are now 3 female-only podcasts out there (all started within the past 2 years), some females venturing into videos, and a lot of women on Twitter/Instagram sharing photos and experiences with games. Plenty of women on Instagram and Twitter and posting pictures of Scythe and really enjoying the game, as well as other Stonemaier games.

    I think the more women share in this manner the more activity you’ll see from women in gaming in general. It just takes time. Look at the backlash that The Dice Tower is getting from moving their podcast to every other week hosted by two women! Women get nasty comments on their voices, weight, and looks when posting content online, sometimes to the point of major harassment. Until we can ensure that there’s a safe place for women when it comes to content creation so our voices can be heard, chances are it will remain dominated by men when it comes to online voices. And when it’s all men that you hear and see promoting board games, it sends the signal that board games are only for men. It’s a viscous cycle!

    1. That’s a great question. I try to send review copies to a diverse array of reviewers, though even if I wanted to only send review copies to women, that would maybe add up to a dozen people at most. There are some female reviewers whose content I really love, and I think you make a fantastic point about how having more female voices sends a much more inclusive signal to the industry than if they’re only male voices.

  11. Regarding the gender question…I wonder if perhaps the survey results are less indicative of the people playing the games and more of the people spending time online joining creators’ mailing lists. I wouldn’t have known this existed if not for a friend of mine telling me about it.

      1. Not subscribing in general, but spending time online for gaming specifically. It seems like it might be something more typical of males since they’re used to doing it for video games? This is solely based on my personal experience. In my group of friends, the ratio of gamers would be closer to 60% men, 40% women.

        1. Rachel: The group I host has a similar ratio. And you’re right, it’s quite possible that the breakdown of people who spend time talking about games online is much more male than female. I think the e-newsletter results surprised me because it’s just an e-mail, not an online forum.

  12. John: Thanks for clarifying. That’s correct that the survey was specifically geared towards subscribers (people who I perceive are paying attention to Stonemaier stuff). I am also interested in non-subscribers–there’s one question in the survey about them (who do you most often play games with), but I’ll add a few more questions like that the next time I send out the survey.

    That’s a good point to differentiate between the appeal of the newsletter and the appeal of our games. I wish there were a direct way to survey people who play our games but don’t subscribe to the e-newsletter.

  13. Jamey, are you more concerned about the demographics of those who buy or those who play your games? Your questions were definitely skewed towards buy rather than play. As others have said I purchase most all of the games for my family, and in general, I look for games that will speak to my young daughters. Charterstone appeals to me for many reasons, but it helps that I think my family will enjoy it. Does it change how you view things, if I am a man that primarily plays with women.

    One more thing to consider is the stage in life that people are at. I used to play with friends all the time. Now I’m in my 30s with young kids, as are most of my friends. My wife, who is currently pregnant, has no interest in playing games. She used to and I imagine that she will again, but right now she has no interest. Many of our friends are in the same position. I frequently invite women who are young mothers to play when I play with friends, but they are rarely interested. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that and I imagine that it will change over time.

    1. John: It’s true that 2 out of the 5 questions I mention here refer to buying games (those were the only 2 out of the 12 total questions on the survey). I wouldn’t say I’m more concerned with those demographics, though as a company that either succeeds or fails based on whether or not people buy our games, it’s certainly an element of demographics that I’m interested in.

      “Does it change how you view things, if I am a man that primarily plays with women?” –I don’t think so. Regardless of who is actually playing our games, it concerns me that I’ve only been able to attract a small number of women to subscribe to our e-newsletter. That direct communication is highly important to our brand, and it says to me that I need to do a better job of including women in the Stonemaier family.

      1. Sorry Jamey, I should have been more clear. I meant that all of the questions were from the point of view of a subscriber to your newsletter (which is probably a buyer). You asked about my gender, age, etc but not that of those that I play with.

        Also, I was ambiguous with my question for what you care about. I should have specified that I meant in the survey rather than in general.

        In thinking about it, you have the set of people who play your games, the subset of those who buy your games, and the subset of those who subscribe to your newsletter. (I’m sure there are those who buy but don’t play your games and those who subscribe but don’t buy any, but I’m guessing there aren’t too many of those )
        You also produce different “products” for each of these groups – a newsletter, a buying experience, and a play experience.

        I would imagine that you care about the demographics of all three of those groups and that all of the groups look very different.

        I guess the point that I was trying to make but didn’t articulate well is that you showed that your newsletter is either not well known by or not overly interesting to women. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with trying to get your newsletter to appeal to a wider audience, but that is different than the appeal of your games. This could be because women don’t know about or aren’t interested in your games, or it could just be the newsletter.

        I conflated buyers with subscribers, but it would be interesting to see what coverts a buyer into a subscriber and how similar the typical subscriber is to the typical buyer.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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. :-)

  17. 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!

  18. 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?).

  19. 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.)

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

      1. When answering this particular question, my best response was not among those to pick from. Personally, I am a bit more frugal, and instead of buying new games, I’m more apt to buy a used game from someone else, usually from a user’s BoardGameGeek.com auction. Since gently used games are just as fun as brand new games, but with less sticker shock, I’d rather save some money and buy used rather than new. It would be interesting to see how many others prefer to buy used games rather than brand new games.

  24. 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.

  25. 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).

      1. Hi Jamey. Thanks for this valuable data.
        There is a source of game consumer stats that is super quantitative and super counter to your stats above and is also freely available. – And that is the customer feedback on Amazon. For the old classics like Connect 4, Trouble, Scrabble, Monopoly etc the massive majority (~80% +) purchaser are females. In fact often they are the mothers of young children.
        Their motivation – to buy games for their children, family and as presents for other children that their children know.
        So their is a vast chasm between enthusiast games that are new/ niche and games that are age old popular and ingrained. My presumed rationale on this is that they want a game (whatever game) that will generally ensure happiness for their children and family and they want games that do not have a high investment in time to execute. I.e. Simple and “guaranteed” to be fun and cost effective as well.
        To an extent the female is the driver/ curator of the emotional space of the family and they are making the most rational choice to ensure that occurs successfully.
        There are a few games that buck the trend like Pandemic, Catan, Ticket to Ride. (Exploding Kittens is not even in top 100 games list!!) However notice that as the depth of game rules escalates (for games sold on Amazon USA) that there is a correlation with a higher proportion of male feedback (assumed proportion of purchasers).
        I suspect the Kickstarter and game startup stats are heavily skewed relative to the general population and the overall spread and consumption of games. Your data is relevant to your demographic but to expand sales requires looking at how the rest of the demographic operates in making choices. Simpler game play options may be an option perhaps to broaden appeal? I would suggest designing a new game from scratch to make things easier rather than alienating existing users. Slippery slopes abound of course.

        What is really interesting is that by pure volume of sales, females are driving the general vehicle of popular culture and by virtue of simplification and security that route continues propagating the past and the culture it propagates is that of a simplified rule set.
        That also has implications for the culture of how we learn how to think.

        An interesting game in point is the 2000 + year old Chinese game of Go. It has one of the simplest rule sets on the planet but has more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe! (It’s dynamic) That is apparently still the most popular game across much of Asia.

        There is change happening all the time and Exploding Kittens and Catan are examples of that. But there is machinery in the ecosystem driving against that change.

    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. :)

  26. 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: https://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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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.

    3. I’m not sure if this will be seen since the thread was so long ago. I bookmarked it and then work went bananas. I also wanted to ask my wife before getting back because I only know what appeals to me (theme is big for me personally. I hear Suburbia is great, but I just don’t feel drawn to it. I need some fantasy or sci-fi most of the time, but not always).

      I had to question my wife a bit on this subject because generally I research a handful of games and then ask her which appeals to her most. She said she doesn’t feel theme affects her nearly as much as it does me. She said gameplay is probably 60% of why she chooses a game, with the rest being theme/art, and largely time-to-play.

      I asked her specifically if being able to choose a female character had an affect and she said “definitely.” She said she really wouldn’t like it if she had to play as a guy all the time. But she then admitted that for some games it really doesn’t matter. For Pandemic for instance (we randomly give each player several role cards to choose from) she said she just chooses who has the most useful ability. However she LOVES the women in Scythe and I know she wishes Fury of Dracula had more than just one woman to play as.

      I hope that’s in some way helpful. Again, I’m sorry for the late response.

  30. 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. :)

  31. 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.

    2. This is what I was going to mention. Among those 20-25 and under who I interact with, email is most often a secondary or backup communication channel. Texting / mobile apps seem to be primary much more frequently.

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. “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…

          1. I agree that your survey may be off. I’m a female and love Stonemaier games. I spend a LOT of time on BGG, reading and researching games along with my sister. Yet I didn’t take the survey. Not because I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know about the survey. Just because a lot of females didn’t take the survey does not mean a lack of female games playing Stonemaier games. Between my sister and I, we own most of your games and love them all.

      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.

      3. Hi Jamey,

        As a general rule, women have much less free time to devote to following game newsletters, responding to surveys, researching, etc. Although men have definitely stepped up their game in the “taking care of the family” arena, the bulk of the work of running a family still falls to women…and most of those women are also working full-time jobs…so, you are much less likely to see women respond to surveys, play extremely time-intense or stressful games, or interact on a forum. We just don’t have the mental space to add one more thing that doesn’t contribute to the overall “team good”.

        I would take your gender results with a grain of salt, as it was probably their husbands who filled it out. ;-)

        1. Yes, women may just not have the energy to play games, or at least long harder games. When I was in that space, just getting a game to the table for family night was a victory, I cannot imagine having to spend much time learning a game for that purpose, and while I did have some free time for hobbies, I am not sure I would have wanted to fill it with brain burning exercises.

          Now that I am on my own, with less on my plate logistically, I need my mind to be challenged and that is where gaming comes in.

          But in pretty much 100% of the couples I know who game, it is the men who are the buyers, researchers. Most of the women enjoy the gaming, and part of it is doing an activity with the men, left to their own devices i think they would be doing something else. there are also very few women who teach or run.

          I hate to say it but I think it will always skew male, and themes do not matter…like making a theme to be more palatable to women, it is condescending. making an attractive game with components we can ooh and aah over is much better…i was IMMEDIATELY drawn to Scythe for the art. I didnt care about anything else, i must play this game because it has museum quality art instead of bland generic fantasy (which no matter who well executed to me is meh).

          that being said, i would like to see some feminist games, not games designed with women in mind, just feminist games. i am not sure exactly what that means, i have thought on it with some ideas but no one line summary. not just female characters, but say a game about suffrage, or women gaining seats in a legislature to win…feminist themes.

          1. Hey Candy – that was very useful insight that intuitively rings very true. I treat your commentary like gold for crystallizing some plain realities about how real life interacts with the logic of choice.
            I’m looking at this page because I’m looking for demographics tips for my own game -( Injection molds currently being made.)
            I am a male but I have very little time to dig into convoluted details and avoid games that do.
            The point of a game to me is to have friendly interaction with a side serve of brain stimulation and challenge. I think that is true for most people. I believe the Kickstarter crowd in more skewed to male early adopters that have exploratory minds and left thinking and are on kickstarter looking for new ways to stimulate their active minds. Hence the weird and striking success of detailed role/ strategy games on kickstarter.
            So for me my assumption is that kickstarter departs from being an accurate predictor of the general demographic but if a good produt is released there the early adopters act to bring it credibility if they show in numbers to buy the product.

            I think it would be good to have a game you could escalate the mental challenge to suit the moment/mood you are in. So I have integrated flexibility into my gameplay.
            We’ll soon see how that pans out…

      4. I didn’t see this survey to respond to it but I’m female and all Stonemaier games are among my top favorite games. My copy of Scythe is fully tricked out with every possible upgrade as it is one of my favorite games ever.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

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