GWS 2021: Inspiration!

Wargamers take inspiration from a variety of sources. A spark for inspiration may originate from a quick conversation with a friend or a manufacturer’s advertisement. Perhaps a blog entry or a film triggers inspiration? Whatever the source, a kernel of inspiration can spawn a new project or breathe life into an old project. The 2021 Great Wargaming Survey contained two questions related to wargaming inspiration. One question asked about a gamer’s primary source for inspiration. The second question focused on media and its influence. In this instalment of analyzing survey data, I examine the primary source of inspiration.

Primary Wargaming Inspiration

In the 2021 survey, respondents could choose up to three primary inspirational sources. Each response was aggregated to generate the summary table shown in Figure 1. Looking at Figure 1, is seeing “My gaming friends” a surprise to find at the top of this list? Since gaming friends are often the most regular contact for many wargamers, seeing them at the top of the list is not surprising. In the aggregate, “An article or post about another wargamer’s models” comes in as the second most chosen source of inspiration. For me, blogs offer great inspiration and have pushed me in the direction of more than one new project. “A game report” is a source of inspiration for many but I also derive inspiration from actually playing a game. I wonder where that source of inspiration can be found in the survey? [Noted - JO] Notice that a manufacturer’s advertisement rounds out the Top 10 sources of inspiration at about 2.5%. Do advertisements no longer inspire? Has this percentage declined with the passage of time and the availability of more accessible inspiration sources?

Primary Wargaming Inspiration by Age Group

While there are a number of attributes that can be utilized in classifying and breaking down these summary results, this instalment focuses on Age Group only. Are there tendencies that emerge from these results? Do certain age cohorts gravitate toward certain sources for inspiration? Figure 2 illustrates these aggregated results by examining Age Group distribution by Inspiration Source. The distribution of articles, whether fictional or historical, should come as no surprise given previous analyses. The 40 and under groups find inspiration from articles on fictional events while the 51 and over groups are inspired by articles on historical events. Anything else of note? Notice that the 51+ groups derive inspiration from manufacturers’ content and reviews of rules and figures more so than the younger age cohorts. Also, notice that the 50 and under groups find inspiration from movies/TV and game reports more than the 51+ groups. What if the data are transposed to show Inspiration Source by Age Group? Figure 3 illustrates what that manipulation produces. Does Figure 3 provide any additional insight into primary inspiration source by age group? While wargamers seem to rely on historical events for inspiration increasingly from age 31 and above, it surprises me that only a small percentage of respondents utilize fictional accounts for inspiration. This result is especially startling in the younger age groups, where past analyses show a definite leaning toward sci-fi and fantasy genres. Also of note is that manufacturers’ advertisements and kickstarters provide little inspiration for the masses. Outside of articles on historical events as described above, reviews, writings on another’s models, and gaming friends tend to offer the most inspiration. None of these three sources dominates the pool. Interesting!

Personal inspiration

As thoughts of Wargaming projects and direction are constantly evolving, so is inspiration.  From where do I draw inspiration from the list in the survey?  While many of the survey choices provide inspiration, my top 3 today are:
  • An article or post about another wargamer's models
  • A game report
  • My gaming friends
Do these results reflect your tendencies for wargaming inspiration? From which of these sources do you draw inspiration? In another instalment, I return to this topic to examine various media as sources for inspiration.

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