The Daily Worker Placement

Monday, May 20, 2024

Survey results #5: The games we play

by | published Monday, March 21, 2016

A huge part of how we interact with the hobby is obviously through the games we play. We find other players this way – do they share your love of medieval theme, or enjoy a rolling good time pushing minis around a map? We were interested in looking at how the tastes of gamers break down, so we asked about themes people enjoy (or don’t) and a bit about the mechanics of games that stand out for folks. Some of the patterns that came out of this were quite interesting! There are certainly a variety of preferences in the hobby, and I think that’s indicative of how the industry and design is flourishing right now. So let’s take a look at this week’s infographic (which is followed up by a breakdown of the information with a little more detail!).
What formats of games do you primarily play? Overall it’s mostly published manufactured games (99.7%) but along with some combination of prototypes (13.6%), Print and Play games (9.6%) and online implementations of games (17.9%).

What is your preferred category of game? Many respondents chose multiple options – a handful of folks chose only campaign RPGs, social deduction games, and war games. While almost 27% of people said “I’ll play anything,” 15% of respondents chose that option alone. Standing out among all types is Euro-style strategy (71.5%), and the remaining break down as:

Abstract 23%

American style thematic 46.8%

Card games 57.3%

Dexterity games 15.3%

RPG – campaign 24.1%

RPG – one shot 16.2%

Miniatures tabletop games 18.9%

War games 15.5%

Party games 38.9%

Social deduction games 39.2%

What is your most disliked category of game?

Abstract 17.2%

Euro style strategy 4%

American style thematic 6.5%

Card games 2.3%

Dexterity games 22.4%

RPG – campaign 19%

RPG – one shot 16.4%

Miniatures tabletop games 25.5%

War games 35.2%

Party games 19.3%

Social deduction games 16%

When looking at what categories were picked just on their own, rather than along with others, the stand-outs were primarily: war games, party games, american-style thematic, dexterity, euro style strategy, social deduction.  

What genres/themes of games do you enjoy?

Theme doesn’t matter to me 19%

I’ll play anything! 38.7%

Pirates 30.5%

Horror 26.8%

Sci-fi 50%

Politics 18%

History 34.1%

Zombies 19.7%

Civilization 39.1%

Trains 25.1%

Trivia 14.8%

Racing 14.4%

Medieval 42.9%

Animals 21%

War 22.8%

Sports 7.9%

Prehistoric 21%

Wild west 23.6%

Economic 29.7%

Fantasy 42.8%

Other 3.7%

Looking at the single answers people selected, “Theme doesn’t matter to me” made up 9% of responses, and “I’ll play anything” made up 21.5%. And 6% of respondents answered those two together! Other single answers fell under economic, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, (a number of anything/sci-fi and sci-fi/fantasy combos). And a few people noted “anything is fine as long as it’s unique!”

What genres/themes of games do you NOT enjoy?

Theme doesn’t matter to me 24.9%

Pirates 5%

Horror 18.5%

Sci-fi 3.9%

Politics 21.8%

History 7%

Zombies 28.1%

Civilization 4.2%

Trains 9.1%

Trivia 24.6%

Racing 16%

Medieval 1.3%

Animals 5.2%

War 15.6%

Sports 32.2%

Prehistoric 3.7%

Wild west 5.7%

Economic 12.7%

Fantasy 2.6%

Other 3.1%

And because it’s interesting to see the themes people picked as their only answer, the most that popped up were: zombies, war, sports, trivia, economic, politics. The more you know!

What are your favoured mechanics in games?

Interestingly, overall only 6.1% of respondents answered they didn’t care about mechanics. (And only 3% picked this as their only answer in this section.) Far more people said they’d play anything 33% – and overall 20.6% of respondents chose that as their only answer.

Exploration 39.2%

Hidden traitor 28.7%

One vs many 13.8%

Resource management 52.6%

Area control 34.6%

Action point allowance 30.5%

Set collection 28.9%

Trick taking 15.4%

Hand management 34.8%

Card drafting 35.2%

Press your luck 20.1%

Worker placement 52.3%

Auction/bidding 23.3%

Pick-up and deliver 19.4%

Tile placement 41.7%

Trading 20.4%

Deck building 34.6%

Other 3.4%

Again, while most answers were made up of multiple choices of the above categories, some stand-out single answers included: area control, deck building, exploration, hand management, hidden traitor, worker placement.

Finally, we asked people if mechanics and theme/genre are not the most important thing about a game, what is it they look for?  We had 400+ answers to this, so here’s a selection!

  • Art! Components/production value; Unique artwork or art by some of my fav artists influences the games that I purchase for my personal collection.
  • Players interaction; Player experience is what I am most after. Preferably positive (a lot of folks mentioned negative/cutthroat interactions as something they don’t want.)
  • Play well with 2; How well it fits with my gaming group. Number of players and playtime; does it scale well?
  • Integration of mechanics and theme; The blending of the two to create a unique and memorable player experience; The theme isn’t forced on to the mechanics. Everything works seamlessly together.
  • Low or no luck
  • Designer
  • How it’s rated on BGG; recommendations from friends; A good recommendation and review
  • Replayability; Replay value. I don’t want to own a game that gets boring after the third or fourth play. does it offer variable set-up, or other options that allow the game to be different every time.
  • Fun; and something where failure is to be accompanied by laughter rather than feeling cheated.If it is fun for all the players;  if it’s enjoyable
  • Innovation; something innovative or unique that sets the game apart from everything else on the market.Interesting & innovative ideas; Innovation and creativity
  • Rules; simplicity of rules with still some strategic depth; Middle weight euros that offer plenty of strategic depth but can be explained fluently to other people who are just casual gamers. Ease of setup and learning/playing.
  • Story-telling moments, grand betrayals, epic failures, last ditch victories. Moments to laugh about, rue, and remember.
  • The type of decisions you have to make, the suspense, how the game session evolves.
  • I consider designer, art, graphic design, recommendations from friends. Number of players supported appropriateness of complexity for intended audience overall play time level of interaction level of engagement

Although it seems like a complex level of wants from the hobby, we’ve all got a lot in common out of the games and experiences we enjoy. That, and we love fun!


  • Nicole H.

    Nicole had played a lot of backgammon, Life and Monopoly when younger. She started playing hobby games in University after trying out D&D 3rd edition, and then joining her University game club. After a while she gravitated towards board games as a casual gamer. After moving to Toronto in 2009 she started gaming more and met her (former) partner Adam through the hobby and hasn't turned back. It's hard for her to pick a favourite game, but if you really stared her down she might pick Castles of Burgundy. When not gaming, Nicole enjoys cooking/baking, reading comics, watching tv/movies and visiting museums! And cuddling every dog she can.

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7 thoughts on “Survey results #5: The games we play

  1. John J says:

    Amazing analysis of “The Games We Play”, very informative and well illustrated – a real contribution to this site and the game world.

  2. Radhika says:

    The infographics on this site are fantastic! Just wanted to ask you, how does one participate in your surveys?

    • says:

      Thanks, Radhika! We ran this large survey back in Jan/Feb, and we’re releasing the results as we process them. If you follow us on Twitter (@DWP_Blog) or on Facebook then any future surveys will be posted there. – Nicole

  3. […] here to jump over to Daily Worker Placement to read the rest of the […]

  4. Lance McMillan says:

    I found it curious that there was no mention of cooperative games.

    • says:

      Lance – good point. We covered this as a higher level kind of thing earlier on in the survey rather than a kind of theme or mechanic. 🙂 I agree it can kind of be both, but for this survey we decided to put it at that higher level then drill down to more specific stuff for this week’s! -Nicole

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