Who are tabletop gamers: what the research says

I’ve been doing a pretty intensive literature review over the past couple of weeks looking at what the academic research says about tabletop gamers. Some of this research is nearly forty years old and is definitely in need of some updating. I do not think that these claims are in any way accurate when talking about gaming in the UK, but, it’s a start! Here is the list below:

  1. Tabletop gamers are typically older than digital gamers with an average age between 30-49.
  2. Although there is an increasing number of female tabletop gamers, the vast majority are male.
  3. For the most part, tabletop gamers are well educated.
  4. Tabletop gamers tend to hold jobs with higher than average salaries.
  5. There is little information about the religious practices of tabletop gamers, but, looking at the inclusion of Christian worship at conventions, it can be suggested that there are a considerable number of games who engage in religious or spiritual practices.
  6. The majority of tabletop gamers have spouses, significant others, and children. Parents and would-be parents express that they look forward to introducing children to their hobby.

I am really looking forward to exploring some of these claims in the context of the UK as the majority of the research about tabletop gamers is conducted in the US or Australia. Below are some of the sources which have contributed to these claims.

  • Carter, Marcus, Martin Gibbs, and Mitchell Harrop. 2014. ‘Drafting an Army: The Playful Pastime of Warhammer 40,000’. Games and Culture 9 (2): 122–47. doi:10.1177/1555412013513349.
  • Davis, Erin Calhoun. 2013. ‘Women and Gaming Research Report’. In Boardgamegeek Convention 2013. Dallas, Texas.
  • Duffy, Owen. 2014. ‘Board Games’ Golden Age: Sociable, Brilliant and Driven by the Internet’. The Guardian, November 25.
  • Dunnigan, James. 2000. Wargames Handbook: How to Play and Design Commercial and Professional Wargames. 3rd ed. Bloomington: iUniverse.
  • Fine, Gary A. 1983. Shared Fantasy: Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Laycock, Joseph, P. 2015. Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds. California: University of California Press.
  • Williams, J.P. 2006. ‘Consumption and Authenticity in the Collectible Games Subculture’. In Gaming as Culture: Essays on Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games, by J.P. Williams, S.Q. Hendricks, and W.K. Winkler, 77–99. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.
  • Woo, Benjimin. 2012. ‘Alpha Nerds: Cultural Intermediaries in a Subcultural Scene’. European Journal of Cultural Studies 15 (5): 659–76.
  • Woods, Stewart. 2012. Eurogames: The Design, Culture and Play of Modern European Board Games. London: McFarland & Company, Inc.

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