The Great Wargaming Survey Results!

Earlier this week, the Great Wargaming Survey 2015 ended after 35 days. All in all we got 8173 responses [WOW! Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to respond and thank you very much to all those who helped spread the news!], some 5% more than last year and, from first impressions, they’re a slightly different group than last year. There is definitely an overlap however, if only in the 30% that took the survey last year as well. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be picking my way through the even larger pile of information that came out of this survey, mostly in a fairly random order, while I try to figure out all that’s there. 

After last year’s survey, we decided to change a few things to improve this new edition. One suggestion was to remove some questions that might be returned to the survey in a year or so, but didn’t necessarily need asking every year. Next, quite a few questions had the options phrased a bit better to remove ambiguity or an overstated option. One example of the latter was the hobby aspect of “painting your miniatures”. Last year the option was “I paint my minis to the highest standards”, but what we meant to ask was “how important is painting to you as an aspect of wargaming?” Undoubtedly, that awkward phrasing caused some respondents to give a different answer than what it could (or should) have been, and that may be borne out by the fact that this year 63.6% indicated that painting the miniatures was “definitely” an important aspect of this hobby, versus only 33% last year. The final change was the inclusion of comment boxes, two open questions and “other” options with many questions, and I’m very glad we did so. Browsing through all the extra comments is not just very interesting, but especially the 6,164 answers to “What do you like best about being a wargamer?” just make me happy about this hobby. It’s great to see so many people enjoying what they do! Therefore, today I decided to take a closer look at the answers to that question. 

Obviously, analyzing answers to an open question is a bit more complicated than for multiple-choice questions. So I copied all the answers (17,886 words) into a text analysis tool. 

There a few words that, in a few varieties (e.g. Painting, Painted, etc) occur very often, other words occur less often by themselves, but are all varieties of a similar concept. For instance Friends, Meeting, Mates, Camaraderie, Community, etc, all indicate the ‘social’ aspects of wargaming, while Research, Reading, History, etc, all point to an interest in the actual, or imagined, background to the hobby. Here’s what that gave me. 

  • Painting: 463 times, and was the most mentioned word by itself.
  • Playing the game (play, tactics, competition, challenge, etc): 696 times
  • Background research (reading, research, history, etc): 533 times
  • Army collecting (collect, miniatures, figures, armies): 438 times
  • Creativity (creative, building, modelling): 247 times
  • Social aspects (friends, social, meeting, comrades, etc): 772 times!

In other words, if you read it from the answers to this question only, wargaming is a creative hobby in which you collect and paint an army for a certain background or setting, and then you play a game with your friends. Have we learned something new from that? No, not really, but it does make me want to do it some more! How about you?

Stay tuned for more ‘meaty’ results of this year’s survey!

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