20 April, 2012

Gamer Statistics: A new breakdown of the numbers

According to Jessica Hammer in her blog post about the reason for "Dread's" failure at a horror convention, one of the issues is the 90-9-1 rule (this can be refenced back to an article on motivateplay).

I had some issues with that ratio, firstly because one of the standard ratios in business is the 80-20 rule (the first 80% of the work is acomplished with 20% of the effort...he last 20% of the work takes 80% of the effort). It also doesn't really mesh with the tabltop, where we typically see groups of four to six players (one of whom is a GM). Looking back at the source article, I see that the 90-9-1 ratio is derived from internet participation (not rpg participation), and like all statistics it can be tweaked according to the medium examined.

So there's no real fault in the chain of blog posts except for a little misinterpretation on someone's part.

The established ratios are:

90% - Those willing to play
9% - Those willing to step up and run a game
1% - Those willing to write scenarios and games of their own

But I propose ratios based on the 80/20 rule. Where in each case, the 80% is more passive and the 20% is more active. The breakdown works a bit like this:

80% - Those for whom passive entertainment is fine
20% - Those who prefer a more active entertainment

 16% (80% of the 20) - Those willing to provide entertainment based on existing materials
 4% (20% of the 20) - Those willing to devise their own materials

  3.2% (80% of the 4) - Those who generate new materials within the existing rules/setting
  0.8% (20% of the 4) - Those who generate new rules and settings

   0.64% (80% of the 0.8) - Those who tweak was has already been devised
   0.16% (20% of the 0.8) - Those who forge a new path of their own

(You could expand the group with 80% of game players willing to play boardgames with no imagination required, and 20% willing to use their imagination in RPGs)

64% - Those who don't particularly care about the minutiae of the rules, but are simply content to play.
16% - Those who'll read up on the rules to maximise their play experience but won't step up to run a game of their own.

It's like referencing the following:

90% - Those who drive a car
9% - Those who are able to diagnose simple problems with their car
1% - Those who can diagnose and fix problems with their car

While my version states:

80% - Those who only drive a car
20% - Those who can fix car problems

 16% (80% of the 20) - Those who are able to fix minor car accessory problems (changing tyres, checking oil, etc.)
 4% (20% of the 20) - Those who understand something of the mechanisms of the vehicle.

  3.2% (80% of the 4) - Those who can change a battery/jumpstart a car, or overcome issues that require only a few tools.
  0.8% (20% of the 4) - Those who have more comprehensive toolkits, and who can make modifications to their vehicle.

   0.64% (80% of the 0.8) - Those for whom a car is a part of their identity
   0.16% (20% of the 0.8) - Those who whom their car is the core identifier of their life

(Again, You could expand the group, with 80% of drivers able to drive automatic and 20% able to drive stick/manual before dividing up who is able to diagnose and fix problems).

How does this link into my recent ideas?

There are dufferent types of products that can be sold to a market. The more esoteric the product, the more people are willing to pay for it, but the more limited the audience is. Do we want to write games for the 80% where we spoon feed them everything? Or do we want to create toolkits for the 20%? When we split it down further, are our toolkits easily accessible enough for the 16% to use...or do our toolkits require the extra yards that the 4% (or even the 0.8%) are willing to put in?

A lot of the indie games floating around at the moment are only catering to the 0.8% (or even the 0.16%) and wondering why their share of the market isn't bigger.

(Please Note: These numbers aren't the be-all-and-end-all. They aren't thoroughly researched, except through anecdotal evidence and my experience of play over the years.
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