Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Gathering report, part II


The best thing about the Gathering is the people. In addition to a
great many people I've known before, I had the opportunity to meet
many who I had never met before, or had only met online. Everyone I
met was a lot of fun.

Some people I met were similar to what I expected based on meeting
them online. Greg Schloesser is friendly and outgoing, talkative and
upbeat, and overall a great guy. Others were different from what I
expected. For some reason I expected Mik Svellov to be reserved and
quiet, but he was as outgoing as Greg. I think every time I turned
around he was teaching a new group of people Goldland.

It was also great to meet many of the maintainers of other great board
game sites, including Derk from BoardGameGeek, Eric from About
Boardgames, and Mark Jackson from Game Central Station. I also played
a few games with some designers and had an interesting talk with Mike
Fitzgerald on games for the Palm handheld, as well "beaming" each
other a couple of apps.

Meeting Jay Tummelson and a number of folks from Funagain was very
interesting, because the business of board games is intriguing to me.
Jay clearly understands his business and I wish him the best continued
luck. It sounds like he will be doing a great many of the new games
played at the Gathering.

color=f8f0ff>Size of the Community

All of these discussions about the game industry led to a few
conversations about estimating the size of the "board game community".
A few relevant data points:

  • Members of the spielfrieks mailing list: 859
  • Members of the Unity Games (Boston area) mailing list: 181
  • Fraction of the US population on the Internet: 1/2
  • Games in a Rio Grande print run: href="http://www.kumquat.com/cgi-kumquat/funagain/tummelson">2000-3000
  • Attendees at Spiel show in Essen: about 150,000

These numbers, combined with various other data I've heard seems to
imply a total community size (in the USA) between 1,000 and 20,000 people,
depending on how you define "board gamer". If you include people who
only play Settlers, and only a dozen times a year, it's probably
larger. If you only include people who have collections of dozens or
hundreds of games and play dozens or hundreds per year, it's probably lower.
Personally, my estimate of gamers who play a variety of german-style
games at least once a month is probably around 10,000.

More on the Gathering and new games later...

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