New academic survey hopes to uncover hobby board gamer motivations

A new academic survey aimed at digging into the motivations of hobby board gamers has been launched by strategy and wargaming blog and podcast The Armchair Dragoons.

The survey comes almost 20 years after The Armchair Dragoons ran a similar exercise, collating data from more than 3,500 respondents and producing several papers based the results.

That survey aimed to uncover what players like in a game and why, what motivates them to continued play and game preferences, why games are bought and what influences those decisions, among other things.

Those results have been used to create papers including Motivations of Hobby Game Players and Why do we play? A content analytic exploration of gaming motivations from a uses and gratifications perspective.

The new survey is being run in partnership with Dr Ian Mercer of Fairleigh Dickinson University – a life-long gamer himself – and will use the institution’s survey tools to gather the data.

Survey creator and Armchair Dragoons ‘Regimental Commander’ Brant Guillory said, “It’s been almost 20 years since that original survey, and plenty of things have changed.

“There have been new categories of games developed (such as living card games) and significant changes in the hobby gaming audience.

“The pandemic changed the ways in which people connected to play, and some of those changes have stuck even post-pandemic. Plus, everyone now has a cell phone where they can take the survey, if they choose.

“Over the past 20 years there’s been an explosion of channels and content related to hobby gaming – new sites, YouTube channels, Discord servers, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, and more – so there are many, many more ways to get the word out than ever before.

“We also learned some lessons from the previous survey, so we’d like to think this one is an improvement.”

He added, “In addition to following up on the previous research into motivations, this time around we’re also looking at community engagement within the hobby gaming world.

“Dr Mercer has a keen interest in varying levels of entrepreneurship among hobby gamers, where plenty of folks with a great idea have started their own companies.”

The survey, which takes about 20 minutes to complete, can be accessed here until an expected closing date of April 15, 2024.


  1. Per Dr Mercer, we’re extending the reply deadline all the way out to 1 July, which will also get us past a few of the conventions in the early Summer.

    We weren’t going to get to the data analysis until July anyway with other things on our schedules, so we’re going to leave it open for now.

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