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2019 GWS - the Basics

Over the last few months Jon Freitag and Miles Reidy have taken time out of their busy schedules to start the proper analysis of this year's Great Wargaming Survey and it's time to start reporting. But first, a big thank-you to both of them. Without their help, any reports would have not have been published till much later, and without the depth they have provided.

The Great Wargaming Survey 2019 - basics

Before delving into the details in future blogs, it's probably a good idea to start with the very basics of this year's survey. It ran from August 1st till the 31st and gathered 10,795 responses, with a 93% completion rate. The former is a record (8% more than the previous record of 2016), and the latter is average. 97.8% of respondents identified as male, 1.7% as female and 0.6% as other.

The North American contingent of the respondents was slightly bigger this year than any year apart from 2014 at 36.5% and the British & Irish group was the biggest ever at 35.3%. The growth in respondent numbers was largely among these two groups.

Age-wise, there seems to be little change. There was a slight increase in younger participants, but the 'age pyramid' still very much looks like a stereotypical wargamer: a large bulge in the middle. That suggests that, though young wargamers are definitely joining the hobby, there's an 'age bubble' moving through the hobby.

Finally, this year we asked about respondents' age when they started wargaming. It appears that the great majority (76.7%) rolled into the hobby before reaching adulthood. That of course doesn't mean they didn't take a break at any time and come back later, but it does mean it's essential to generate interest as early as possible, as only 14.3% take up the hobby in their twenties. It drops off very quickly after that.

The good news, and it really is good, is that once people are in, 97% of respondents indicate high levels of enthusiasm about their hobby. If this was a company satisfaction survey, it would be bonuses all-round.


Update on the prizes, as not everyone seems to be getting our newsletters. The Rubicon sprues have shipped, the Sarissa kits are expected in this week and will be shipped immediately, and Wargames Atlantic has promised the first sprues shortly.

6 thoughts on “2019 GWS - the Basics”

  • S Christopher Smith
    S Christopher Smith November 21, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Is the age bubble a real bubble or just a result of that age group filling in the questionnaire? Can this ever be determined?


    • Jasper Oorthuys

      It's certainly consistent from survey to survey. What we might suggest is that we've got better reach into the historical wargaming community, which is on average older. It's always as result of the age group of the respondents, but as I said, it is consistent from survey to survey and roughly 60% is new every time.

  • Miles

    Chris - While there always is a bias in any survey, I think the age bubble is real. When comparing survey from the past 6 years there is a definite shift from the 40-50 bracket to the 50-60 bracket and 60+. The trend is consistent with each survey and only moves in one direction - older. Remember we are asking about historical gamers and are likely under representing younger non-historical gamers, which does appear to be a growing market and, hopefully, an opportunity.

  • peter holland

    Would it be beneficial to have a survey at each show/convention? One question being have you attended other shows (how many/which). That way you may catch a greater number.

  • Jonathan Freitag
    Jonathan Freitag November 26, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Chris, you may find my follow-up post, The Battle of the Bulge or “OK, Boomer” of interest in addressing your question.

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