State of Chicago Gameday, Fall 2015

The State of the Gameday, Fall 2105 survey saw a total of 40 responses. While this is just under 20% of the existing fanbase, it’s a decent amount of respondednts compared to surveys past. I’ve analyzed the results and wanted to share some of the findings, and explain how Gameday will respond to them going forward.

CONNECTING WITH GAMEDAY

Almost 88% of repondents found the Gameday mailing list the most effective way to keep abreast of upcoming events and other Gameday news. Consequently, I’ve decided to start using MailChimp, an email marketing tool, to enhance formatting and general list-management. Expect to see fancier emails and easier methods to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Warhorn was rated a 4 or better (out of 5) by 80% of respondents, so we’ll continue to use it for registration and event management.

Respondents were largely split on the efficacy of ENWorld threads as a means of planning. Almost half of them gave ENWorld a 3 out of 5, or “meh”, rating, with the rest of the respondents falling on either side of the scale. As a result of this, we will no longer be using ENWorld as a planning tool. I’ve wanted to divorce Gameday from the site for a while now, and this was the push I needed.

But, what to use instead? A Google+ community and our Gameday Facebook page were the most popular choices, at 47.5% and 35%, respectively. I’m going to focus on using Facebook for now, however. Yes, lots of people despise it, but a) our Facebook page has 223 likes, and b) Facebook integrates into many OSes and applications. Events on Facebook are easliy shared and, depending on a user’s settings, will automatically integrate into one’s calendar and OS notifications. This is simply too useful to pass up, so I’m going to give it a try for Gameday 43.

EVENTS AT GAMEDAY

Despite concerns that Gameday may not be offering events of interest to potential attendees, 85% of respondents said that Gameday offers events that interest them more than 50% of the time, and of those 42.5% said they found interesting events 100% of the time. That’s a pretty good track record!

The most common reason for respondents not attending Gameday is simply scheduling: 72.5% listed schedule conflicts as the most common reason they cannot attend a Gameday. Only 17.5% said a lack of interesting events was the reason. Honestly, this confirms my own personal observations. I have been told constantly that Gameday needs to offer more popular or bigger-name RPGs, but I have never seen a consistent correlation between them and attendance.

(My personal opinion is that the top-selling RPGs are already well-served by the hobby community, so when we offer, say, Pathfinder, we’re competing with a lot of other gatherings. The fact that Gameday skews a little off the grid is, in my opinion, a selling point.)

When it comes to the kinds of events on offer, most respondednts were — no surprise — interested in RPGs, and the “big three” genres were of most interest: science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

As to secific types of RPGs, the most-reqeusted RPGs were “Indie” games (27.5%), “Other” (20%), and then a five-way tie all at 7.5%: Fiasco, Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Old-School Revivial games, and Fate. RPGs conventionally accepted as popular received few if any votes at all. Granted, “other” was a pretty big catch-all. Some respondents included Dungeon Crawl Classics in this category, a game I’d consider OSR, and others used it to express “no preference”. Still, “indie” RPGs was the big winner here.

Beyond RPGs, 30% of respondents expressed interest in board games, to which I have no objection. If people want to offer them and they fill a slot, board games are more than welcome at Gameday.

When it comes to the size of an event, the largest table people seem to be comfortable with is GM + 6 players (32.5%), though more respondents prefered no more than GM + 5 players (37.5%). Results dropped off markedly for larger tables. Consequently, I am going to encourage a “soft” limit of no more than six seats in an event, meaning that while GMs are welcome to exceed it, they are not encouraged to do so.

And, somewhat related, I’m going to introduce a hard minimum of four seats per event. I know that this will disappoint a few people, but the simple fact is that events smaller than that make it too hard for Gameday to service its community. Less people get to play, and less people get to attend (and thus, spread the word about) Gameday.

Respondents were very happy overall with Games Plus as our venue. This seems a no-brainer, but it’s good to see it confirmed. 65% said that the game room is sometimes too loud, however, which I’ve noticed as well. I’m not sure exactly what I can do about this, but awareness of the issue is a first step. Le Peep also seems to be meeting everyone’s needs, which is good, becasue I love the food. 🙂

I asked whether respondents have GM’ed at Gameday, and if they hadn’t, why not. Of those who had not, 43.8% said they simply preferred playing, but another 43.8% felt they lacked confidence in their GM skills, and 31.3% said they simply didn’t have the time to prepare. The latter two answers have me wondering what it is I can do to help people feel comfortable GM’ing, as we are always looking for more people to run games. I’ve been considering hosting a “GM’ing workshop” for those interested, but any other ideas are appreciated.

Lastly, I did receive a comment about inclusivity at the game table, namely events where a player was made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. While this kind of feedback has thankfully been rare — which I hope is due to lack of incidence, not a lack of coming forward — it has come up in the past. For a while now, I have been thinking about creating a harassment and/or “safe space” policy for Gameday. I dont know how much there really is that I can do about enforcing such policies, given that I’m just one person, but having them in place feels like it may be valuable. Feedback on this topic is also welcome.

This was not the first Gameday survey, and it will not be the last, though I will likely refrain from sending out larger surveys more than once a year or so. I’d like to thank everyone who participated. See you all at Gameday 43!

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6 thoughts on “State of Chicago Gameday, Fall 2015

  1. < ![CDATA[Jason Bossert More details will be forthcoming. Discussion will definitely happen on Facebook, but actual event details will be submitted using a form. That's my current plan, at least.]]>