D&D General RPG Theory and D&D...and that WotC Survey

Parmandur

Book-Friend
From the looks of those pie charts it would seem that the number of folks over 45 who respond to surveys are small enough in number that they just don't bother including us in the data visualization.

On the flip side, it also seems indicative that players 35-45 make up enough of the market currently that they DO bother counting those folks, unlike in the 1999 survey.
Greg Tito admitted that was an error: the first chart should read "40+" same as the subsequent years chart. The first chart represents the 40 million playing in 2019, the second chart is the 50 million playing in 2020.
 

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clearstream

(He, Him)
Seeing as it's a survey about D&D done by a company attenpting at the time to redesign D&D, I think it's fair to allow them to assume a D&D-like structure. :)

Or data manipulation.

For example, all survey responses from people over a certain age (35, I think) were tossed*; meaning most of those who had started in the early days had no voice in the data.

This makes the results and conclusions drawn from the survey, in my view anyway, highly suspect.

* - this is noted in Dancey's report, a copy of which @Morrus has booting around somewhere in here. EDIT stored under the "Features" dropdown at the top of this or any page, it's the second option.
Found it. There are two links in Features to write-ups by Dancey.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If WotC did market research today that focused on people aged 12-35 as part of their core audience, I would be excluded as a result of my age and I would think nothing of it because I can respect that I am not the target group of interest for them.
Sure, and if they were up-front about it (e.g. on the form say straight up that not all responses will be considered due to factors that may include age and-or country of residence etc.) that's fine. Well, maybe not that fine but at least it's honest.

But when they blanket-survey the whole population, then arbitrarily exclude a large segment of that population, then design a game for the whole population based on that informational subset, that's not fine in any way.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Personally, I've maintained all along that that's exactly what it was. They knew going in that they'd get answers* from the older players that they didn't want to hear, and so they made sure not to hear them.

* - including tendencies toward longer and more stable campaigns, greater prevalence of kitbashing and rule/system tweaking, fewer purchases of anything other than adventure modules, slower levelling, larger parties and-or more players, etc.

That's still no reason to exclude their voices.

Imagine the squawks had it gone the other way, that responses from anyone under 35 were tossed.

Which while true is still no excuse for failing to make the snapshot-in-time as representative of the complete demographic as possible.
TBH the more egregious omission is the rest of the RPG-playing world.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Sure, and if they were up-front about it (e.g. on the form say straight up that not all responses will be considered due to factors that may include age and-or country of residence etc.) that's fine. Well, maybe not that fine but at least it's honest.

Seriously? Their money, their product, their survey.

They can do whatever they want to with that data, and use it however they want. Heck, they could decide to completely ignore the results if they wanted to.

I truly don't understand this whole, "I have a right to have companies make products for me, when I want them to," theory? If you are a big enough market, then ... someone will build you a better mousetrap. Or a worse mousetrap. What every mousetrap it is that you're looking for, I guess.

But when they blanket-survey the whole population, then arbitrarily exclude a large segment of that population, then design a game for the whole population based on that informational subset, that's not fine in any way.

There was nothing arbitrary about the exclusion.

As a general rule, companies prefer to capture the youth market for a reason. And if you don't like that, you can watch CBS.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Sure, and if they were up-front about it (e.g. on the form say straight up that not all responses will be considered due to factors that may include age and-or country of residence etc.) that's fine. Well, maybe not that fine but at least it's honest.
If they were upfront about it, it would have increased the chances that people would have been dishonest about their age or other factors so that they would be included.

But when they blanket-survey the whole population, then arbitrarily exclude a large segment of that population, then design a game for the whole population based on that informational subset, that's not fine in any way.
For the whole population? Or designed a game to target that subset that formed the desired core demographic for their total range of WotC products?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
TBH the more egregious omission is the rest of the RPG-playing world.

It'd be really interesting to know what you think "the rest of the RPG-playing world" is/was in your mind, and how WotC was supposed to contact them to get their opinions back in 1999, when less than 3% of the world had internet access. Surveys were difficult and expensive affairs back in the day. They still are, honestly.

WotC was not, and is not, responsible for giving us a full and accurate picture of RPG gamers. We pay for their product - we do not pay them for market research results.
 
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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
It might be true that they left money on the table by not getting feedback from older fans. No clue on that score here.

However Wizards of the Coast has no duty to any existing, potential or former fans to either elicit feedback or design a game that fits their interests. They are group of creatives making a product they want to sell. They don't owe us anything and we don't owe them anything either.
 

payn

Legend
Seriously? Their money, their product, their survey.

They can do whatever they want to with that data, and use it however they want. Heck, they could decide to completely ignore the results if they wanted to.

I truly don't understand this whole, "I have a right to have companies make products for me, when I want them to," theory? If you are a big enough market, then ... someone will build you a better mousetrap. Or a worse mousetrap. What every mousetrap it is that you're looking for, I guess.



There was nothing arbitrary about the exclusion.

As a general rule, companies prefer to capture the youth market for a reason. And if you don't like that, you can watch CBS.
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It might be true that they left money on the table by not getting feedback from older fans. No clue on that score here.

There is a clue in SKR's writeup...

"What we don't know (and won't for several years) is if people's play preferences change over time. What we do know is that the age distribution across the five segments was undifferentiated (meaning there were people of all ages in each group), and the number of years a person had been playing RPGs had no effect either (meaning that people don't seem to migrate to a segment based on their depth of experience). We also found no additional segmentation based on what games people identified as their "favorite"; in other words, there are just as many Power Gamers as there are Storytellers who like Vampire, and just as many Thinkers as Character Actors who like D&D."

So, across the age range they did look at, neither age nor length of gaming career was a determiner for what segment you'd end up in. We should not expect there to be discontinuity in the results - being 36 or 37 wouldn't be that much different than being 35, after all. We should expect there to be at most gradual change outside the selected age range. The more gradual the change, the less money they'd be leaving on the floor.
 

How many of the people playing in 1999 could have even been over 35? That's 1964, and most people who had ever even played at all were probably born in the 70's, 80's, and even 90's by then. And in terms of this profiling scheme, it may not have made any difference at any rate.
Yeah, I was 36 in 1999... I was playing pretty early in D&D too, so about as 'old time' as anyone around at that time. So chances are VERY few mid-70's players were represented in the results if the cutoff was 35.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yeah, I was 36 in 1999... I was playing pretty early in D&D too, so about as 'old time' as anyone around at that time. So chances are VERY few mid-70's players were represented in the results if the cutoff was 35.
Yet not zero by that measure, and probably most people who had ever played at all.
 

If WOTC is willing to cede the over 35 TTRPG market to others, there are plenty of others willing to pick up the slack.

Frog God Games and Goodman Games are already on the case!
 


Hussar

Legend
Sure, and if they were up-front about it (e.g. on the form say straight up that not all responses will be considered due to factors that may include age and-or country of residence etc.) that's fine. Well, maybe not that fine but at least it's honest.

But when they blanket-survey the whole population, then arbitrarily exclude a large segment of that population, then design a game for the whole population based on that informational subset, that's not fine in any way.
This bolded bit is what I keep coming back to. There is ZERO evidence that the excluded segment was ever large. Even now, we're talking about 25% of the gaming population, and that's because we've had twenty some years of aging to add on. It's a lot easier to have older gamers in a hobby that's 50 years old than a hobby that's 20 years old.
 

Hussar

Legend
If WOTC is willing to cede the over 35 TTRPG market to others, there are plenty of others willing to pick up the slack.

Frog God Games and Goodman Games are already on the case!
Ok, fair enough.

Now, what evidence do you have that Frog God Games or Goodman Games' audience is older, younger or the same distribution of ages as WotC's?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
This bolded bit is what I keep coming back to. There is ZERO evidence that the excluded segment was ever large.

Specifically, at the time, they were not considering the data submitted by gamers who were born before 1964. So, by and large, the excluded folks were the original grognards - gamers of the 1970s, the folks who were in their teens or older when D&D was first published.

We should all expect that group to be vastly outnumbered by the the gamers of the 80s. So, yes, we should expect the excluded segment to have been small.

And also, unless you are over 57 years old now, the perspective of your age group was included at the time.
 
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And also, unless you are over 57 years old now, the perspective of your age group was included at the time.

The assumption that its going to automatically map to different things than the people they were paying attention to at the time is also a bit of a reach. I'm literally about to turn 65. Of the two groups I regularly play with, there are four people around my own age, two about ten years younger, and two twenty years younger.

On the occasion when either group is going to play D&D or D&D adjacent, the preferred game of about four of those people is 4e, and the rest is PF2e. So the assumption we'd not like more recent designs because of our age seems to be reaching a bit.
 

Hussar

Legend
I did answer. Sometimes a game is defined by what it chooses not to create rules for. D&D doesn't try to be completely comprehensive of every aspect of the game, it's rulings over rules. I think how people actually use the game at the table is more important than trying to apply game theory analysis. The original question I was answering: "Wouldn't the essence of a thing be the same for everyone, even if the specific permutations of their lived experience of it are different?"

Because D&D 5E focuses on rulings over rules, goes out of it's way to encourage DMs to color outside the lines, what people do with that absolutely matters. This is where the academic analysis fails for me. I care more about how people actually use the game. In the case of D&D, what the rules leave out can be just as important as what they chose to include. The fact that any two games can be so radically different is a feature, not a bug. D&D doesn't establish a tone of game, it doesn't limit itself to a specific mythos even if it does provide some for specific settings. If I play a Cthulhu game I know I'm doing a horror campaign. If I play a D&D game I could play a horror game, a beer and pretzels game, a story of good vs evil or morally gray quagmire. I don't see how I can discuss the game without discussing how it's actually implemented and used.
And that's totally fair and a perfectly reasonable discussion to have. I can completely get behind that.

But, where the problem generally occurs is that you are advocating a specific view - what works at your table - and in many cases people aren't arguing that. When someone says, "Hey, 5e doesn't really support exploration very well", they don't mean that you can't do exploration. They don't mean that the DM can't make it work. They mean exactly what they say - 5e mechanics (as in the system of 5e, not the game which is system+table) don't have a lot of heft when it comes to exploration.

When you try to push for game (system+table) it's very difficult not to see it as advocating a very specific playsteyle. Just because someone says that the system doesn't support something very well doesn't mean that they automatically want to rewrite everything, or that they cannot make it work. What is being said though, is a simple truth - the system doesn't support X. And, if the rules are silent on X, then that's just true. You cannot claim that a system supports something that it doesn't actually have any support for.

Now, you can talk about how system+table works for you, but, I generally find that a lot less useful because there are just too many things that are unarticulated. I don't play at your table. I don't play with your players. What works for you at your table isn't necessarily something that will help me. It might, but, generally, no it won't. And, frequently we see people simply blow off problems with claims that "well, I don't have this problem, so there's no problem with the system". And around and around it goes.

I guess my basic point is, it is always very, very useful to be absolutely crystal clear that you aren't actually talking about the system. It would save a LOT of back and forth in conversations because you're simply talking past people.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
It'd be really interesting to know what you think "the rest of the RPG-playing world" is/was in your mind
Intended ironically. A complaint was that an age segment in NA was omitted. Everyone not in NA was also omitted.

, and how WotC was supposed to contact them to get their opinions back in 1999, when less than 3% of the world had internet access. Surveys were difficult and expensive affairs back in the day. They still are, honestly.

WotC was not, and is not, responsible for giving us a full and accurate picture of RPG gamers. We pay for their product - we do not pay them for market research results.
Which was the more egregious fault? Could the answer be - neither?
 

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