2012 BPA Survey Results—Games
Jan. 12, 2013

Just who are we who frequent this oh-so-unique annual reunion of kindred spirits called the World Boardgaming Championships? If one judges by our survey response, we are 90% male. However, that is almost certainly overstated if one adds the Juniors (a near even split of the genders among the rugrats) and significant others who spend more time shopping than playing games or responding to surveys. A census of the 2012 paid attendees found a 86/14 split. Still heavily slanted to the guys at better than 6:1, but the gals have been making ever more visible in-roads of late.

Age is a bit harder to predict as the young seem less inclined to vote as well as answer surveys and are therefore probably under represented in ours with a parent responding for the entire family no doubt skewing it older still. Nevertheless, our survey response broke into the following age groups which accurately defines us as the more mature group one might expect of boardgame hobbyists:

  • 17 & Under: 1%
  • 18 to 24: 4%
  • 25 to 34: 13%
  • 35 to 44: 22%
  • 45 to 54: 34%
  • 55 to 64: 22%
  • 65 & Over: 5%

If we look a bit closer and examine this through the prism of avowed primary interest, wargamers are the oldest group with an average age of 49.8, while Euro gamers form the youngest group at 42.5 years, Not only are we an older group but we seem to be a loyal one when it comes to attendance at this annual gaming conference. Less than 11% have attended only once, while 18% have attended 2-3 times, 21% have attended 4-6 times, and 49% have attended seven or more times. 76% of our respondents attended last year and 96% have attended within the past five years which suggests the logical conclusion that those who have lost interest in WBC over the years are less likely to respond to a survey about it. As such, it reflects the inherent bias of any group predisposed to like a conference and thereby maintain their interest sufficiently to respond to a survey about it. That is reflected by the 96% approval rate of those who are likely to return “based on their most recent experience". Even so, when you consider 76% of those respondents were present for the 2012 air conditioning issues, that’s impressive so I’m inclined to think that, for the most part, we’re a bunch of happy campers.

We’re still primarily a group looking for kindred spiriits to share our gaming passion. 59% of our respondents attend alone while the remaining 41% bring along an average of 1.94 family members. 83% of those family members actually join in the gaming while the rest presumably take in the sights, go shopping, or work on their tans at poolside.

But what games do they play you ask? For while we’re all boardgamers presumably, there is still considerable underlying angst about whether one genre of games is getting more attention than another. If one were to judge solely by the numbers of entrants an event attracts, one would assume that Euros enthusiasts far outnumber the rest. Not according to our survey. When asked to identify their “primary interest” wargames led with 47% of the response followed by Euros with 39%, train games with 8% and sports/racing games with 6%. When blurring the genres to increase the range of positive responses to include “some interest” those percentages changed to 29%, 32%, 21% and 18% respectively. So, obviously there is a lot of cross pollination going on with interest in multiple genres. However, the main source of the friction is seen when one examines which genres elicit “no interest” in other genres. 17% of those identifying wargames as their primary interest professed no interest in Euros while 37% of Euros players had no interest in wargames. Read into these numbers what you will, I still believe the jury is out when it comes to which group dominates WBC. Clearly, Euro events generate more player numbers but that is largely a matter of shorter playing times with Euros enthusiasts playing 7.2 events while wargamers average only 4.8. Wargamers, whether more numerous or not, tend to vote with more regularity in the annual Membership Drive and thereby heavily influence the return of the smaller wargame events.

What You’d Like to See... What You Want Not to Change How I See It...

Genre Quotas 4: I would like to see a number of slots reserved for wargames as it seems the Euros are beginning to crowd them out or push them all toward Pre-Cons. / I would prefer to see a lot more wargames and/or more strategy games and less train/race/sport/Euro games. There are a lot of really decent/mid-level complex strategy games out there that are between wargames and Euros that I would like to see played more at WBC. Sure, it is fun to play small games and I think it is important to have variety for the families but if I drive 12 hours to get to WBC for a $500-$1000 week, I want to play as many wargames/strategy games as I can. / I want more wargames and fewer of the silly Euro, train, sports games I could play with my 3-year old and don’t have to travel across the country to find someone to play with and about which the idea of a tournament is borderline absurd. Tournament Pro Golf, really? But that’s not really anything I can do much about other than try to convince people to play my favorite games and try to persuade people who do play my favorite games to come to WBC.

Tournament Variety 31: Wide variety of tournaments that are fun for our whole family, from wargames to Euros to trivia to Slapshot! / Wide variety of games, including those that aren’t played that often locally.

Fraternity 1: The best part is being part of the communities that have grown up around annual play of many of the tournaments.

Pre-Con choices are more a matter of ducking competition from other wargames rather than from Euros as there is relatively little overlap between the two genres. Wargames tend to be long and therefore have greater schedule conflict issues. Extending the convention an extra two days to accomodate their lengthy schedules is the only way those events can compete with the shorter games.

More New; Less Old 8: We need to do something about game selection for tournaments. WBC has gotten itself into a rut, and there is an opportunity to broaden interest. / Newer games. WBC has too many old games. / I appreciate that there are a lot of classic games, near and dear to the hearts of the grognards, that are worth playing and replaying, but I find it very frustrating that new (or newer) games receive so few tournament slots. A lot of great new GMT and Columbia games are refused slots so that the Avalon Hill classics can continue to monopolize time and space. Those games may have been the games that older members of the BPA grew up with, but I grew up with the new games and they are seriously under-represented in my opinion. I would encourage a rebalancing to permit more games produced in the past 20 years into the ring, while cutting the number of older games.

Event Churn 1: I like the variety of tournaments. I even like that less popular ones are dropped from the schedule so that there’s room for new things.

Maintaining Old Favorites 1: I like that some old out-of-print games are still able to be played—even if you yourself don’t have a board to bring. I think keeping the balance of old to “new kid on the block” games is a VERY important part of what makes WBC a good convention.

First you have to realize that not everyone is a fan of change or “bigger/newer is better”. Many of us would be quite content with yesterday’s WBC as opposed to tomorrow’s. Even so, change is inevitable and eventually the older games will fade away, but WBC is driven by volunteer GMs whose dedication is fuelled by passion for their favorite games. Other GMs have to gain that passion for newer titles and step forward to make greater inroads in our event offerings.

Publisher participation is also a big part of the event makeup of WBC since vendors can freely sponsor new events. GMT, for example, has been very proactive in support of its events and has never been short an event slot as a result. Other publishers, for whatever reason, have been far less involved and their event presence—or lack of one—reflects that.

More Wargames 8:

A “X” Tournament 5: Insert game title for X

More Euros tournaments 2: More eurogames offered as events. It feels too focused on wargames, though I acknowledge that is based more on member popularity.

More Events 2: I would like to see a larger number of trial events so that some of the games that have failed to garner enough votes or meet the Board’s attendance requirements can return.

More Space for Tournaments 1:

Wargame selection 7: If wargames are decreased, I will not attend. / Plenty of wargame action, despite lesser attendance than Eurogames. The “player-hour” formula seems to ensure a fair number of wargame tournaments.

Interaction with fellow wargamers 4: WBC has become the last stand for what remains of the wargaming fraternity.

Events start with a GM caring enough to run the event. If the publisher isn’t able/interested, a player can still make it happen by getting involved as a GM. BPA does not run events. We don’t have employees who do that and we don’t choose what events get run. Our attendees do through their participation. You want event X—volunteer to run it.

The Century formula is self-correcting. The more events of a particular genre it admits, the more those events conflict with each other, limiting their player pool, and serving to cut that genre for the next convention. The “less is more” argument regarding “focus” has been repeated elsewhere and is applicable here.

Quality over Quantity 1: There are lots of games that, while people play them, would probably not be missed. More focus on quality over quantity would help cement the reputation of the most important events, and probably increase the number of players even more. Late Night Events 1: I like ending each night with the social, less serious, party games like Slapshot. Ah ... but who defines quality? I suspect that would be a heckuva argument. Your “quality” is someone else’s drek, and vice versa.
Throwback Events 1: I have often heard folks lament the loss of certain tournament events—with declining attendance as those games became further out of print. It might be nice to have some “throwback” tournaments offered (GMs and space permitting) on an every two- or three-year basis. It could be a different category of event—like the “trial” events that are held every year.  

Occasionally, such events have been voted or sponsored back into the lineup. However, if they failed before, a few more years of out-of-print status does not portend any better fate the next time around. Creating yet another special category of event adds to what some already decry as too much regulation while reducing the “focus” on which WBC is based.

IPAD Games 1: Now that iPad’s support ‘real’ boardgames, look into experimenting with an event using them. Games like Caylus, Dominant Species, Titan, Smallworld, Imperial, NS Hex, & Le Havre are all real boardgames and now are on the iPad supporting multiplayer. They even have Slapshot! Pros to using the iPad are complex games can be played quickly since tedious bookeeping is done by computer and there is no setup. Little downtime, maximize gaming! Easiest is for one person to have the iPad and play ‘pass & play’ mode but if there is enough you can also play as local network with everyone using their own. Be interesting to poll membership to see if there is any interest?   Admittedly a subject for Board discussion. Technically, players are not supposed to use computer aids unless they are made available to all, but its only a matter of time before game shortages cause such substitutions.
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Boardgame Players Association Last updated 1/12/13 by kae.
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