How many women…? May 2014 update

by Gil Hova

A few months ago, I mentioned that I was tracking the genders of all my board game opponents for the year. Here’s a quick update of where we stand, now that we have a few more months of data.




We now stand at 71% male, 29% female opponents, over the course of 168 games and 502 opponents. If we compare playtests versus no playtests, the numbers don’t change much: I’m at a 69%M/31%F split for playing published games, versus 71%M/29%F split for playing prototypes.

This is somewhat encouraging to me; I’d gone into this project expecting a massive difference there, with many more men involved in playtesting games. It’s good to see that in the games I’ve played, I’ve had a similar percentage of women playing prototypes to published games. Of course, I wish it was closer to 50/50!

The real interesting thing is a new breakdown I’ve been looking at: what’s the gender split between playing in public (at conventions or in public game groups) versus private (at people’s homes)?

In public, I’ve played 117 games with 355 total opponents, and I get a 74%M/26%F split. Almost 3 out of 4 of my opponents are male. This seems to match up with empirical data I’ve heard from others; anecdotally, it seems that a 75% split is common..

But in private, the numbers change tremendously: In 51 games with 147 opponents, I get a 61%M/39%F split. It’s not quite 50-50, but it’s 13 percentage points closer.

The sample size still isn’t terribly large, and of course, this data only applies to games I’ve played, not you. But it’s a start, and it does start to back up my long-held hypothesis that there are a decent number of women who play board games; they just prefer to play in private.

Again, my methodology is not very scientific, and I don’t pretend that these results are conclusive. But it is a start at shedding light on this interesting topic.