GWS 2023: Does it matter where you live?

By Jon Freitag

Does a gamer's country or region have an influence on how a gamer games? What are some of the attributes that may drive gaming style or tendencies? Whether considering table size, game venue, group size or a handful of similar attributes, do differences exist between historical miniatures gamers spanning the globe?

Luckily, Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy's Great Wargaming Survey offers some clues to answering this question.

In today's instalment, I examine a half dozen of these gaming attributes with respect to country / region from the eyes of, primarily, the historical wargamer.

Focus on primarily historical gamers

While most previous analyses examine tendencies across all primary interests (Historical, Mixed, Fantasy/Sci-Fi), the following analyses look at wargamers having a primary interest in historical wargaming only.

Graph of the distribution of gamers by primary interest
Figure 1: distribution of gamer types

Figure 1 shows survey respondent counts by primary interest. The scale spans from '0' (Entirely historical) to '6' (Entirely Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Based upon earlier study, wargamers having a primary interest in historical were demonstrated to fall into the '0' and '1' categories (Figure 2).

Graph of distribution of gamer types, highlighting historical gamers
Figure 2: Historical wargamers

With historical wargamers defined, what do any gaming tendencies suggest for this group of gamers if their country or region is known?

Now, in rapid fire sequence, let's look at some of these attributes.

Entirely-historical wargamers

If historical wargamers are bifurcated between their commitment to historicals as illustrated in Figure 3, then survey results suggest that historical wargamers in the UK and Ireland are more committed to preferring purely historical wargaming than other regions. While UK/Ireland respondents see themselves as purely historical gamers about 50% of total, the Rest of the World (RoW) sees a make-up of about 40% of total. Why do these historical gamers tend toward purely historical wargaming more than the rest of the world?

Graph of historical wargamers by region
Figure 3: Historical wargamers by region

Note that "Region-Other" has (much) lower total counts than the other regions so it will not be included in these relative comparisons. It is included only for completeness in the data.

Group size

On gaming group size, UK/Ireland wargamers again stand out (see Figure 4). These gamers are more likely to prefer solo gaming over the RoW. When up to four players are included in the group setting, the RoW catches up to the UK. About 60% of all gamers participate in games having four or fewer participants. Note here that Australia/New Zealand and UK/Ireland stand out as having 16+ participants about 10% of the responses. Why the increase in group size for these two groups?

Graph of gamer group size by region
Figure 4: Group size by location

Game venue

When stratified by preferred gaming venue (see Figure 5), one result is remarkable. Almost 30% of UK/Ireland gamers game at a club. Few game at a game store. All but North America follows a similar tendency. North Americans choose a club as a preferred venue in less than 8% of the responses. Gaming at a game store jumps to almost 17%. For North Americans, is gaming at a game store similar to gaming at a club for the RoW? 

Looking at the sum of private game settings (At Home, At Friend's Home), nearly 70% of North American respondents prefer these private settings. Is this due to population dispersion and distances to travel, sociability or the availability of private, dedicated game spaces?

Graph of gaming venues by location
Figure 5: Gaming venue by location

Game frequency

Gaming frequency offers interesting results as well. When stratifying by how often one games, Australia/New Zealand and UK/Ireland (see Figure 6), on average, game more than the RoW. These two groups tend to game at least bi-weekly in more than 50% of the responses. This result likely reflects the tendency of these groups to attend club games. Fewer than 40% of North American respondents game more than bi-weekly.

Graph of gaming frequency by location
Figure 6: Gaming frequency by location

Game duration

What if game length is considered? Do any tendencies emerge? From Figure 7, survey results show similar results across all locations with some variation. Across all groups, about 20% prefer games of 1-2 hours, about half prefer games of 2-3 hours, and roughly 30% prefer games exceeding three hours.

Graph of game length by location
Figure 7: Game length by location

Game table size

What Figure 8 illustrates is that preferred table size varies, but a 4'x6' table is by far the most popular configuration. Continental Europe/Scandinavia prefers the smaller table sizes with nearly 70% preferring a 4'x6' or smaller gaming table. For the RoW, more than half prefer a table larger than 4'x6'. Australia/New Zealand and North America top the regions for percentage of respondents preferring the largest tables.

Graph of gaming table size variation by location
Figure 8: Gaming table size by location

Game period

What if preferred wargaming period is examined? Do any regions tend toward a particular period or are all periods universally favored? Figure 9 illustrates the breakout of wargaming period by region.

Graph of preferring gaming period by location
Figure 9: Preferred gaming period by location

What do the results suggest? As might be expected, among historical wargamers, WWII and Napoleonics are number one and two across all regions. Besides these two major wargaming periods, do any periods see focus regionally? Yes. While Ancients sees similar global acceptance outside of North America, Pike & Shotte is played more in the UK and Ireland. Medievals are more popular in Continental Europe/Scandinavia and ACW is more popular in North America. Surprising results? I think not.

Does it matter where you live?

The survey results show that location can play a role in how we game. Region also affects what we play. While hints of relationships between attributes have been suggested, perhaps a holistic approach to combining these attributes to show correlations between attributes (or groups of attributes) by Region would offer insight? Previous analyses have shown that age is a driving factor in preference and choice.  Although past analysis demonstrates that older gamers gravitate toward historical gaming, perhaps extending this analysis to examine Age Group over these six gaming attributes would provide insight as well?

How do these survey results compare with your own gaming tendencies based upon your location? Similar? Different? In what way(s)? Do you recognize other notable tendencies in these data?

Always enjoy reading your comments.


@Andy, the survey shows that about 15% of respondents fit your preference of historical, solo gamer.

Jon Freitag

@John, where I live in the US, I see much the same as you. That is, the only wargaming B&M stores cater to fantasy/sci-fi and we tend to be a scattered, independent lot.

Jon Freitag

Does not correspond to my experience in the Netherlands. Purely historical solo player.

Andy Fuller

USA. where when I certainly think that covid has influenced the where when & how we game. Locally, we have lost a brick & mortar store & gained a pizza & gaming store. Generally, I find American gamers to be very independent and getting them to agree on anything is like herding cats. Also, I find our community to be elderly with few fresh fish. Sorry, an opinion of a very small sample.

John Curtin

Hi Robert, thank you for reading and responding to this post. Always good to see that these posts are given some thought and occasionally prompt a response.

On your comment about “forcing” the venue analysis, you ask a reasonable question on margin of error.

The observations presented in the analysis are just that, my broad observations. Looking at the proportion of those gamers who prefer to game either at home or at a friend’s house, as you note, 68.3% of US/Canada gamers prefer these venues while 62.2% of UK/Ireland gamers prefer these venues. You suggest no “serious” difference but what does computing the margin of error suggest?

At the 95% Confidence Level, the margin of error is +/- 1.91%. Since the proportion difference between US/Canada wargamers and UK/Ireland wargamers is greater than the margin of error, results suggest there is a location difference in these preferences.

If you are curious how others have responded to this topic, please visit

Jon Freitag

I thought the “venue” analysis was a bit forced. “Almost 70% of prefer to game at home or at a friend’s home!” Well, yes. 68.3%, actually—as opposed to 62.2% in the UK and Ireland, 66.1% in Continental Europe and Scandinavia and 66.3% in Australia and New Zealand. What do you suppose the margin for error in the poll is? I’d say the only serious difference is that the US and Canada play less often in clubs and more often in game shops. Taken together, just under a quarter (24.2%) of North American wargames take place in a venue supported by dues or shop patronage, where elsewhere it’s 29.8% to 32.8%—not shockingly different, but still a much greater difference than the other, and likely to account for the somewhat greater number of home games. I was a little surprised there wasn’t more difference in venue, actually.

Robert Piepenbrink

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