Historicals, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, or a mix?

By Jon Freitag

Having referenced the Great Wargaming Survey's question on how survey respondents classify themselves along the spectrum between purely historical and purely fantasy/sci-fi wargamers in previous analyses, I figured it high time to dive into the data to see if my early assumptions toward data reduction hold.

The particular question of interest asks survey respondents if they classify themselves as 'historical' or 'non-historical' wargamers on a '0' to '6' scale. A rating of '0' identifies an entirely historical wargamer while a rating of '6' denotes an entirely fantasy/sci-fi wargamer. Respondents could choose any point along this continuum. In the following analysis, this classification of response range from '0' to '6' is labeled as 'Genre Scale.'

What are the results of tabulating these counts? The table below shows that the largest proportion of gamers fall within the middle band ('2'-'4') of the distribution with the middle value, '3', having the largest count. Seeing that the extremes of "entirely historical" ('0') or "entirely fantasy/sci-fi" ('6') are similar in counts provides comfort that the survey is not biased toward one demographic.

In an effort to reduce the range of responses from seven to a more manageable and intuitive grouping, I introduce the notion of 'Primary Interest'. When considering a respondent's Primary Interest for past analyses, I classified those responses having a Genre Scale of '0' or '1' as being primarily historical wargamers. Those respondents having a Genre Scale of '5' or '6' I classified as primarily fantasy/sci-fi wargamers.

To consider period choice, favorite wargaming periods are tossed into the mix. In a separate question, each respondent could choose up to three, favorite wargaming periods. Counting up responses, was this Primary Interest aggregation scheme reasonable? Let's examine the period make-up of each Genre Scale by looking at the Top 5 periods within each group.

For the entirely historical category of '0', the Top 5 periods are all historical. This is a good start. Notice that WW2, Napoleonics, Ancients, and American Civil War comprise the Top 4.

For those respondents choosing '1' Genre Scale, the Top 5 still are all historical periods. While the Top 4 remain in the same ranking as the '0' grouping, Medieval replaces 18th Century at #5.

Genre Scale #2 still holds WW2, Napoleonics, and Ancients in the Top 3 but one non-historical period makes the list in the Top 5. Dark Ages slips into the Top 5. Is the Dark Ages period a gateway to non-historical wargaming? Perhaps, it is the converse and Dark Ages wargaming is a gateway from non-historicals to historicals?

Genre Scale #3 falls midway in the selection range. At the halfway point on the scale, one could expect a mix of historicals and non-historicals. This is the result seen with WW2 still holding the top place but three non-historical periods making the Top 5. Science fiction takes the #2 spot in the survey. The mid-range classification shows a bias toward non-historicals that I did not expect. How long can at least one historical period last as the results increment through the Genre Scales?

Perhaps not long. At Genre Scale #4, WW2 remains the only historical period in the Top 5 with non-historicals taking over the Top 3 spots. Science fiction moves into the top spot.

By Genre Scale #5, all of the Top 5 are represented by non-historicals. Is the Pulp genre historical or fantasy/sci-fi? Hmm. I suppose it could fall within both groupings.

The final classification, "entirely fantasy/sci-fi" is composed of all non-historicals with Warhammer 40K taking top honors.

Showing the Top 5 wargaming periods by level of interest is, well, interesting. Looking back at the distribution of counts and Primary Interest, selecting '0' or '1' certainly identifies a Historical wargamer. Similarly, at the other end of the scale, a '5' or '6' definitely classifies a Fantasy/Sci-Fi wargamer.

The results suggest that examining Primary Interest allows for reasonable data reduction and provides a sense of validation to the survey.

In which bucket are your wargaming interests found?

1 comment

“Seeing that the extremes of “entirely historical” (‘0’) or “entirely fantasy/sci-fi” (‘6’) are similar in counts provides comfort that the survey is not biased toward one demographic."

Given that there are many more fantasy/SF wargamers in the world than historical ones, this data actually suggests that historical gamers are over-represented in survey respondents compared to the overall population of wargamers.

Derek Hodge

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