Friday, February 3, 2012

RPG Gaming Survey - YOUR Help Needed!

All right here it is: the “secret” project I was talking about earlier.

I don’t think there’s enough good hard data on RPG gamers, nor D&D players specifically. There are a lot of assumptions out there that get tossed around the forums and the blogs and the over-the-table discussions, but there just isn’t a lot of true, hard data.

I want to rectify that.


So, I’ve put together a little survey. Well, actually, not that little…it’s 125 questions, though most of them are “yes/no” or “mark ‘X’ in the box.” It’s a ton of information, including demographics (age, gender, race, nationality, current residence) and information about when and how one got into the game…not to mention preferred editions and feelings about a lot of game related “stuff.”

This is NOT a marketing survey…there aren’t any questions about whether you are going to buy 5th edition or the AD&D reprints. In fact, it doesn’t ask about games purchased at all…it asks about games played. There are a couple-three (yes/no) questions about technology appearing at the game table and print books versus PDFs, but I think that’s pretty useful, generic info. It’s one thing to THINK people prefer to “own a print book,” but let’s get some actual numbers and percentages on it.

Anyway, I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a capital-I Important survey (as in “important” to the industry), but I DO think the information will be incredibly helpful and interesting to look at.

So here’s how it’s going to work:

Go to the download page at the link listed below, and download the GAMING SURVEY. The document is an MS Excel sheet. Read the instructions at the top; then enter the information in the open cells (the “colored boxes”). Except for the answer boxes, the cells on the document are all locked, so you can’t accidentally type over a question or anything. Once you’ve finished, save the document and then email it to the following email address:

gamingsurveyresults AT

[this email address is also located at the bottom of the document]

The more information you can provide, and the more honesty you can provide, the more useful the survey will be. However, you do not have to answer all the questions…if you feel some are too personal or you don’t really have an answer, just leave it blank. The information you DO provide will still be useful. The idea here is to get a SNAPSHOT OF THE GAMING HOBBY AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME…that is, at the beginning of the 2012 year. This is going to show a bit of the “state of the hobby” BEFORE a 5th Edition is release, BEFORE the re-release of the AD&D books. Who knows how those things (and other developments) might change the state of table-top gaming?

So Here's The Help I Need: I need YOU, readers, to download the document, complete it, and email it back. If you have a BLOG, I would ask that you post a link to the download site (you don’t have to link to my blog…I’m not doing this for publicity). If you have friends or associates who play table-top RPGs, especially Dungeons & Dragons, or WHO HAVE PLAYED THE GAME IN THE PAST BUT DON’T ANYMORE, please email them a copy of the survey to fill out, or direct them to the download.

I want to get as many responses as possible. This isn’t just “old school” stuff. It’s not just “current D&D players.” You can be a White Wolf LARPer or a Forge-ite Indie game designer or a 4E power gamer or the spouse of a gamer who’s just happened to have play the game a couple times (regardless of whether or not you’d do so again). Even though it’s a lot of questions, none of the questions are asking for comments or essays or a huge ton of brain power…they’re just data points to get some hard statistics on real RPG gamers, not just assumptions.

I will be collecting data for at least the month of February, and maybe early March. I am hoping for at least a couple hundred responses, but ideally I'd like to get into the 500-1000 range. I don’t have that kind of blog readership, so to any of you “big boys” that do: PLEASE promote the survey, even if you don’t especially promote ME. The information will be interesting (and perhaps useful) to EVERYone in the hobby.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.
: )

The survey can be downloaded right here.


  1. I'm on it! I'll be working on this over the weekend! Looking forward to diving into it!

  2. I'd love too, but work blocks Mediafire. Do you have a Google Docs account?

    Also the research design and statistician in me wants to point out that it is a snap shot of only those people that read your site. Thus it is very likely to skewed in the older age demographic and the old-school points of view.

    You will need to make an effort to go where the data is, forums, blogs and the lack that support D&D/other RPG players...but not the RPG players you are most familiar with.

    I will link to it of course. Hell, send me the file via email and I'll load it on to my Dropbox space for download.

  3. I took a look a the survey, and I must admit some of the first questions really threw me off (I refuse the answer astrology-related questions, on general principal).

    Then later I got to questions about my favourite character class to play. I simply don't have a favourite class, but that is not listed as an option.

    Is a partially-completed survey at all useful/helpful to you, or should I not bother if I can't answer all the questions and end up leaving many blank?

  4. Oh, and do you want us to put any kind of name on the spreadsheet?

  5. @ Tim:
    Plan on 'making the rounds' after work; I will email you.
    ; )

    @ Kipper;
    Absolutely, partial is just fine. No astrological info necessary, though year of birth would be very helpful for
    Demographics. But ANY info is good (in the conclusions there will be a category for 'did not anwer').

    @ Drance:
    I'd prefer it emailed back in the same Excel document.

  6. @ Drance:
    Ugh! Sorry, didn't answer the question.

    No names, please! This is anonymous info. There will be no follow-up contact with survey participants!

  7. I got it (off my phone) and sent it to address listed.

    There are some issues that might skew your data. I put those into the email.

  8. As one who does not use and therefore cannot read Excel docs, this is not something I am able to participate in. Is there another option for semi-Luddites like myself?

  9. Any reason why you didn't use SurveyMonkey for this? That would solve at least a couple of the complaints that have already surfaced above.


  10. SurveyMonkey is a good tool, but there is a limit on the number of questions a free account can have.
    Though a basic account is pretty cheap.

  11. @ Fleur:
    What Tim said.

    @ Fr. Dave:
    I'll see what I can do, Padre. However, do you not have Excel on your computer? If you do, I'd suggest taking a quick just have to click in the box and type your answer.
    : )

  12. You could load into Google Docs as read-only and then have people save it locally as an XLS or XLSX files and send that along.

  13. (Next time - a Google Docs "form" embedded in this blog. Let me know if you want help with that. I used it for convention registrations.

    You can set up a professional looking survey form that people don't need to download, embed it in your blogspot blog, and results are automatically merged into a Google Docs spreadsheet, with optional e-mail notifications everytime someone updates data.

    It's fun to watch the data appear in the spreadsheet!)

  14. (Furthermore - free, and no limits, which makes it a better choice than SurveyMonkey.)

  15. Call me lazy but you lost me at "download."

    If you can imbed the survey like Deathanddrek suggests, you'll get a lot better response from casual readers who don't feel like downloading a spreadsheet, fill it out, up load it and email it. That way it feels a lot more anonymous and we don't need to make any leap of faith about what you're going to do with our email addresses. Besides, Excel isn't as prevalent as it once was, what with freebies like google docs and Open Office eating at their market share. I haven't had microsoft office on my computer for a year or two now.

  16. @ Timrod & Death&Drek:

    I'll see what I can do, though it might be a day or two before I can do the embed.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  17. NP! If you want to ask me a specific question just PM me at KnK/DF/OSRGaming (probably easiest) but I'll subscribe to the post comments here anyhow.

  18. Wow, 125 questions and it's something I have to download and email back... instead of a web form I can fill out now in 5-10min.

    I would like to help, but those barriera are way too high.

    Also, I doubt the online/blogosphere people willing to fill this out are a statistically relevant representation of "RPG" gamers.

  19. The quiz will not allow me to download on mediafire :(

  20. Downloaded, filled out, and mailed.

    I also cross-posted this with the Old School Gamers group on Facebook. Hopefully, that will help kick up the responses.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

  21. When you ask "The number of pre-made adventures/modules I have acquired over the years is roughly" do you mean free downloads as well, or only bought printed modules?
    When you ask "The last time I played D&D with others was (month and year)" do you mean on-line as well?

  22. I posted it on a German forum and on the German RPG section of my blog and got a handful of positive comments, and just as much negative comments. People felt the amount of personal questions was violating their privacy and they also felt that using Excel was a bad idea. Some complained about the download, others complained that their Excel replacements couldn't convert the file… As for me personally, I have yet to find the time to sit down at my desktop (most of my browsing I do from a tablet) and try to use to Libre Office. And I'm also not going to answer stuff that I feel shouldn't matter.

  23. @ 3lle:

    RE Adventures: take it literally. Some folks like to make their own adventures, some like to buy/borrow/steal pre-made ones (even if only to use as a "base" they can tweak). And some people just like to read adventures!

    RE Last Played (Q#60): again, this should be taken literally. On-line or not doesn't matter, when was the last time you played D&D with others (this is different from Q#21.

    @ Alex:

    Great! Thanks! Many of the questions ARE personal, though I'm not sure how the survey "violates their privacy;" they don't HAVE to answer. And information submitted is good info...when the data is collated there will be a category for "did not answer the question."

    As for "stuff that doesn't matter," um...I'm not sure any of it "matters" in the great scheme of things, it's just a collection of data points regarding (RPG) gamers and their feelings on gaming...not how much money they make or what they spend on games or what games they buy. The questions are designed to figure what games they PLAY and how they feel about their play.

    I can't do anything about the Excel at the moment, but I'm working on options,
    : )

  24. Survey done and emailed! It seems like some are inordinately intimidated by Excel! ;-)

  25. ProTip: next you want to do a survey, consider using any of the dozens of free online survey tools out there (I won't plug them here).

    It will be easier for you to make the survey, easier for we without excel to deal with it, and easier to tally the results later.

    You can easily import the spreadsheet into google docs and use their tool to create a web form for it. When users complete the form, it appears as a row in the spreadsheet.

    Now you're thinking with Portals.

  26. ProTip: always read previous comments to make sure you're not just reiterating points made by others earlier. ;)

  27. I made a 5 min video tutorial to show you how to make a survey using Google Docs Forms and how to embed that in a Blogger blog.

    Link here -

  28. I filled in as much as I can; I have no idea of the exact time of my birth! It opened and saved in Libre Office without problems, for those of you without Excel.

  29. Just completed the survey. While I commend the project, I feel that something is missing from the survey, in that it fails to capture whether an old-schooler is playing a newer version (yes, 4e), or why (because of his gaming group's preferences).

  30. @ Anthony: I thought about some questions that addressed that issue, like "do you feel forced to play X" or something. In the end, I decided the important thing was to find out if folks were playing at all (and there was a question or two about "preference" of game).

    I know that people get sucked into playing games they don't like because they want to be with their friends or whatnot. However, I feel if it's important enough to someone to play a "preferred" edition, they'll leave their group or organize their own. I base that on my own experience, and not everyone is like me but, hey, we all have free will right? This is why it wasn't useful for me to ask questions like "is camaraderie/fellowship important to you." On some level, it MUST be, if you're playing a face-to-face table-top RPG with others. Even if you're no good at social contract issues, you'll find a way to cooperate if you want to be around other people.

    Don't know if what I just wrote makes much sense...I've been drinking for a few hours now (Super Bowl Sunday, ya' know?).
    ; )

  31. JB--I'm glad just to have had you answer, and it made plenty of sense. My issue of, "I might rather play X but am instead playing Y." is likely exacerbated by my living in the middle of nowhere, and may be a function of being 40. I just felt that from my questionnaire, one would have no clue that I played 4e this week, am struggling with the tactical board-game aspect of it, but am starting to have fun, though I'd still rather be playing Labyrinth Lord. Then again, it's not as if it would be easy to quantify such things, even if such things are common.