GWS 2020: Top settings, part 3

Top Eras by Age Group

Breaking out survey responses by age group, I find a fascinating exercise. Well, I find all of this data exploration fascinating but age demographic studies more so. Why? I suppose I enjoy seeing how gaming preferences change as one ages, and if my own experience fits into these tendencies.

The table below displays the total counts for each era by age group. Only a respondent's top five ranked choices were included in this tally. While a reader can divine a sense of these tendencies across eras and age groups from this table, spotting takeaways at a glance requires a bit more work.

To help identify these Era by Age Group insights, colored rankings are added. For example, wargamers in the 31-40 age group rank their era preferences as,

  1. Fantasy
  2. Sci-fi
  3. Warhammer 40K
  4. Warhammer Age of Sigmar
  5. WWII

What, if any generalizations can be made from these results? Some results may confirm accepted, common knowledge but others may provide a surprise or two.

My take-aways from the era preference by age group analysis suggests the following:

  • Age groups 51+ prefer historicals to fantasy/sci-fi.
  • Fantasy makes the Top 5 for every age group except the 61+ age group.
  • WWII makes the Top 5 era preference for all age groups and the top choice for age groups 41+.
  • ACW and Pike & Shotte seem to be mainstream eras for the 61+ age group only.
  • Napoleonics (Ranked Choice #2) and Ancients (Ranked Choice #3) are very popular for the 51+ age groups.
  • Warhammer 40K is very popular for the 40 and under age groups.

Final Thoughts

Well, not so much final thoughts but my current and evolving thoughts based upon these data. Looking at these results, I keep returning to the recent debates on the potential demise of historical wargaming. Is historical wargaming dying? What do these data suggest?

With WWII gaming making the top five in every age group, it is difficult to classify historical wargaming as a dying genre. Yes, WWII is more popular in those 41+ age groups but the younger age groups dabble as well. ACW, Ancients, Napoleonics, and Pike & Shotte seem the domain of the 51+ age cohorts. Let me term this group of gaming eras as the Classics. Is this absence from the younger age groups due to lack of interest, lack of exposure to the subject matter, a change in gaming style, barriers to entry, or something else?

When I envision gaming the Classics eras, I expect large armies covering large tables in big battle games. Perhaps gaming styles have changed? No longer are big battles with thousands of troops possible or even desired among the younger age groups? Painting thousands of figures takes time, money, more time, more money, and a lot of determination. Building up armies of this size requires many years spent at the painting desk. Certainly, these are not armies to be fielded in a short period of time.

Smaller armies in smaller battles or even skirmish gaming is a more accessible entry into the hobby. Perhaps WWII skirmish gaming and an explosion of figures in plastic are two reasons WWII is popular across all age groups?

Gaming style, whether big battles, skirmish gaming, or single figure, may be a contributing factor in wargaming era preference. Perhaps location matters? What about figure size? Gaming style, location, and figure size, I leave for consideration at another time.

I encourage readers' thoughts and comments on favorite gaming period. Why do you game what you do?

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