GWS 2017 - time to tally!
This year's Great Wargaming Survey (GWS) is in the pocket. Going by the number of respondents, it's the 2nd best edition ever with 8655 responses. Not as many as last year and, I admit, that is a bit disappointing after the insane speed with which responses rolled in the first few days. Nevertheless, the fact that 8655 wargamers took the time to fill out the survey is still awesome and I'm very grateful to all of you!
Also gratifying is that SurveyMonkey now indicates the time spent on surveys. It's gratifying in the sense that they confirm that the survey does indeed only take about 10 minutes. Pfew!
It's hardly a surprise and very similar to past surveys that over 98% of respondents are male, about 32% come from the UK and 29% call the US home. New this year is the share of German respondents: they come in 3rd with just over 7% of the total, followed by Australia, Canada and tiny Netherlands (WSS HQ) in sixth place. 1-2% of respondents each come from France, Sweden, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and Belgium. All in all, the respondents reported they live in 76 different countries, a truly international crop! Considerably more respondents (41% vs 35% in 2016) had taken part in one or more previous editions of the GWS. I suppose that can hardly be a surprise, but it's great that so many new people take the survey each year.
Sorry for the awkward title there, but we may have stumbled on our first trend after four years of running the survey. If you look at the accompanying graph, it's pretty obvious that the group of respondents who have wargamed for a long time constantly grows (from 22.3% in 2014 via 26.5% and 29.8% to 30.6% in 2017). That's what we'd expect to see if the hobby was greying. The two groups with the 'newest' wargamers (having been in the hobby ten years or less) has grown slightly as well, however (from 12.3% in 2014 via 23.5%, 23% to 24.7%). The middle two groups (10-30 years) have shrunk. Obviously, even a stable group of 'new' wargamers would indicate a steady stream of new entrants to the hobby. So perhaps this is good news?
What's going on here? It's of course possible the population of respondents has changed, and it's certainly true that after 2014 we got better at reaching outside the direct audience and readership of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy. It's also possible that the 10-30 year group is the one most likely to drop out: if you started wargaming as a kid, the odds of your hobby going by the wayside between the ages of say 20 and 35 seem pretty substantial. Once you're past the 'danger zone' of finding a steady job, house, family and all such real-life worries, and your hobby is still with you, you might get into the vaunted group of true grognards. Does that make sense?
What questions would you like to see answered (if possible) after this year's survey?