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UK wargamers according to the 2016 GWS

It has been pointed out to me recently that I neglected to report on British wargamers. Tsk, tsk! Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! How could I forget wargaming's homeland? Clearly, it's time to repair something. So here goes... The usual disclaimers apply, of course.

Wargamers from the British Isles make up the single largest group of respondents. Nearly 3500 filled out the survey. As we noted in previous years, whereas American wargamers are the oldest on average, the British wargaming population is just a bit above average. However, with almost 43% under 40 years of age, that can hardly be called a grey population. With that, the under 40s group is a tiny bit bigger proportionally than in 2014 and smaller than in 2015. I suppose that mostly shows that the group of respondents does change from year to year (and, in fact, 68% indicate they have not taken part before). Gender-wise, it stays the same from year on year with about 2% self-identifying as female and the rest, therefore, as male.

The age of discernment

For American wargamers, there seems to be a generation gap. At least, it seems that younger wargamers prefer quite different settings than their older counterparts. That seems to be the case here as well. It starts with hobby preferences. Older (*curseword* - I just realised that I fall in this group since my birthday last fall) wargamers think wargaming is most about:

  • Playing the game (69%)
  • Research (67%)
  • Hanging out with friends (64%)

Younger wargamers, on the other hand, put the social aspects first (and if there's any future promise in wargaming, that's it!):

  • Hanging out with friends (78%)
  • Playing the game (69%)
  • Painting and modelling (60%)

It's perhaps not surprising either that younger wargamers, going along with the now established trend, prefer smaller games. Skirmish or platoon level games are the number 1 preference overall, but younger wargamers put 'small skirmish with less than 10 models' second.

It'll be predictable by now that younger wargamers consider themselves, on average, more as sci-fant games than as historical wargamers. On our 7-point scale (0-6 with 0 as entirely historical and 6 as entirely sci-fant), younger wargamers give themselves on average a 4.2, while older wargamers inverse the numbers with a 2.4.

Favorite settings

No doubt the above is reflected in favourite wargaming settings. Let's see. The top 5 favourite wargames settings for older wargamers on the British Isles are (feel free to insert a drumroll...):

  1. World War 2
  2. Napoleonic Wars
  3. Dark Ages
  4. Medieval Era
  5. Ancient Era

Younger wargamers, on the contrary, prefer the following (fanfare?):

  1. Science Fiction
  2. Fantasy
  3. World War 2
  4. Pulp, Steampunk, etc
  5. Alternative History

As before, the Dark Ages and Medieval era are right behind, undoubtedly still reflecting the popularity of SAGA.

That's probably enough for now. There's more on my to-do list unfortunately. However, feel free to use the comments section to give me new ideas for questions to answer on this blog, or add to the list for the Great Wargaming Survey 2017!


2 thoughts on “UK wargamers according to the 2016 GWS”

  • Wim Van den Berghe
    Wim Van den Berghe March 27, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    I have a question for you about "Alternative History".
    What do you see as alternative History?
    I think younger gamers might think this is for example the tv series like Grimm and the likes (maybe even zombies in real world situations).
    I (aged 51, so probably an "older" gamer) see this more as, for example a campaign with historical figures where the battles have never happened for real, or the outcome is different. Alexander looses from Darius, or Napoleon wins at Waterloo.
    BTW, I'm not American or Brit, but Belgian.

    • Jasper Oorthuys
      Jasper Oorthuys March 27, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Wim
      In the survey, 'Alternative History' was listed as: Alternative History (e.g. Dust Warfare). It's hard to include extensive descriptions with each question (want to make sure the survey is doable in a short amount of time), but I would hope everyone would understand the historical eras as what they are.
      If you enjoy 'Ancients', you might play Alexander at the Granicus, or a made-up battle between Successors armies. The point is that the setting and armies are still the same and historical within the limits of the rules.
      I see Alternative History as those settings where the historical narrative is deliberately taken into another direction to include new elements, such as in, for example, Konflikt 47.

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