1st Annual Papers & Pencils Reader Census Results

Jerry Nelson and The Count, from Sesame Street
Jerry Nelson and The Count, from Sesame Street

And now a brief interruption to the recent Halloween themed postings.

Over two months ago, I put up a reader census for the 1st year anniversary of Papers & Pencils. My plan, at the time, was to run the census for a little over a week, then shut it down, and quickly generate a bunch of graphs comparing the data. The first part worked out alright. During the week that the census was open I received 38 responses. Which may not be a broad enough group of respondents for a meaningful statistical analysis, but it is a significant percentage of my estimated readership, so I was happy. I wouldn’t trust any statistical analysis I performed anyway.

Then began the wrestling with how to make graphs. Either I’m remarkably incompetent, or this is a much more difficult task than it ought to be. And as time consuming as the process was, my procrastination instincts kicked in. Until here we are: very close to three months after the fact, and I haven’t discussed the results yet. Because I am a bad person. It has been so long at this point that it seems a little weird for me to be posting this at all. But there are some responses here which I think deserve to be shared. Particularly some of the comments. So I’m just going to post and comment upon these results without graphs, and without comparison. Hopefully I can figure out how to do this more efficiently when it comes time for the 2013 census!

Are you a regular reader of Papers & Pencils?

Yes, I read most posts. (21)
Yes, I read every post. (10)
I read the site occasionally. (7)

How do you access P&P’s Posts?

I keep the website bookmarked. (18)
I have Papers & Pencils in my RSS Reader. (17)
I get updates via twitter. (2)
Just check every few days. (1)

What is your tabletop game of choice? (Multiple selections allowed)

Oldschool D&D, or a Retroclone similar to it (17)
Pathfinder (16)
3rd Edition D&D (10)
4th Edition D&D (3)
Almost anything (3)
My own (2)
Don’t have a favorite (1)
White Wolf World of Darkness (1)
“none” (1)

I’m pretty surprised I have so many 4th edition players among my readers. Hello, peoples!

How long have you been reading Papers & Pencils?

Started in August-September 2011, when the site was rarely updated (4)
Started in October-November, when the site was updated 5/week (2)
Started in December-February 2011, before the site moved off Blogger (5)
Started reading before June, in 2012 (16)
Started reading during or after June 2012 (12)

How did you first find Papers & Pencils?

Through a web search. (12)
Via a link posted by -C on Hack & Slash (6)
Don’t remember (4)
Followed a link on Twitter (3)
Via the blogroll of another tabletop blog. (3)
Was referred by a friend. (2)
I’m a personal friend of LS (2)
Met LS in real life, was given a business card. (1)
Via a post linked on Reddit. (1)
I am -C (1)
The Link from Penny Arcade (1)
Saw LS’ comment on another site. (1)
May of the Dead Carnival (1)

That is not a real answer, Courtney. >:(

Are you a blogger yourself?

No, I’m not a blogger(22)
Yes, I also blog about tabletop games. (10)
Yes, but I blog about a topic other than tabletop games. (6)

What is your level of involvement with tabletop gaming?

Game Master (19)
Passionate Beginner (8)
Aspiring Professional (4)
Avid Player (3)
Casual (3)
Professional in the tabletop gaming industry. (1)

Dude, one of my readers is a pro? That’s awesome. Tell me that’s not awesome, guys.

What new topics would you be interested in reading about on Papers & Pencils? (Multiple selections allowed)

Amateur Game Design (13)
A larger variety of RPG Systems (11)
Nothing new, please! I like what you cover already.(11)
Book Reviews(10)
War Games (5)
Card games (4)
Board Games (3)

These are all topics which I’m interested in, and may write more about or not. It’s good to know there is at least some interest in each of them. Particularly the top 3, which are the 3 which I’m most interested in writing about. I do worry that I may not have been clear with “Nothing new, please! I like what you cover already,” because many people selected both that option, and several others.

I tend to ramble quite a bit before getting to the point of a given post. As a reader, how do you feel about this?

It is entertaining. (38)
It is annoying. (0)

Maybe people were worried about hurting my feelings with this one? Honestly, I’ve long felt it is poor style for me to ramble the way I do. But if 100% of people who participated actually enjoy my round-about way of expressing myself, then perhaps I oughtn’t worry about it.

Do you comment on the site’s posts?

No, I do not comment. (14)
Yes, occasionally. (11)
I have, once or twice. (8)
Yes, often! (1)

I’m really glad that so many people who don’t normally comment on the site were willing to fill out the form. I understand that often you don’t feel like you have anything to say in response to a post, or you don’t have time to comment on all the posts you read. The fact that you read my writing is more than enough for me.

And to those of you who do comment, thank you. I know it’s silly of me to think this way, but if Papers & Pencils goes for a week or so without getting any new comments, I begin to feel as though nobody is reading any more.

What is your gender?

Male (32)
Female (4)
“Just Kidding!” (1)

This says some depressing things about the way our hobby welcomes women. Either that, or it says some depressing things about the inclusiveness of my writing.

Either way, I’m going to do what I can to improve upon that going forward through the next year.

How would you rate P&P’s fiction posts, including the Friday characters, items, monsters & locations?

1 out of 5 ()
2 out of 5 (4)
3 out of 5 (7)
4 out of 5 (11)
5 out of 5 (13)

How would you rate P&P’s posts which focus on game mechanics and system critique?

1 out of 5 ()
2 out of 5 ()
3 out of 5 (6)
4 out of 5 (16)
5 out of 5 (14)

How would you rate P&P’s posts which contemplate gaming philosophies?

1 out of 5 ()
2 out of 5 ()
3 out of 5 (7)
4 out of 5 (16)
5 out of 5 (14)

These three questions were probably my least well considered. To be frank, I’m not even sure how I would classify posts in which I “Contemplate gaming philosophies.” I was trying to break down the various types of posts I do into as few categories as possible, so people could rate them. But I don’t think I succeeded in asking good questions here.

Though it does make me happy to see that everything is so heavily weighted towards the positive. I love you too, readers!

After clearing out a cave filled with violent orcs, you and your party come upon a large group of orc babies. What do you do?

Find someone else to care for them. (10)
Raise them as your own. (6)
Leave them to their fates. (5)
Find an Orc to care for them (4)
Kill them. (3)
Find an Orc to care for them–But make sure it’s far from civilization. (1)
I’m usually the DM, and I don’t put orc babies in my games. (1)
Depends on the GM. (1)
Depends on the party. (1)
What alignment am I? (1)
Enslave them. (1)
Roast a few to see if orc jerky tastes good, then deal with the rest. (1)

This is a question which comes up now and again. The apparent conflicts which rise around it have inspired me to be clear with my players about the kind of game worlds I run. They are worlds where monstrous humanoids are often evil, but it is a socialized, not an inherent, trait. The write in answers are arranged from least to most evil for my game world.

What is your level of education?

In Highschool (2)
In College (12)
Associates Degree/Professional Certification (4)
Bachelor’s Degree (9)
Some Graduate School (3)
Master’s Degree (5)

I must apologize for this question. It was pointed out to me several days after the census went up that I was missing an option for “Highschool Graduate.” That was foolish of me, and possibly insulting to those who chose not to pursue further academic goals after highschool. I will not make that mistake again.

What is your age?

18-25 (13)
25-35 (18)
36-45 (5)
46-55 (1)

How frequently do you play tabletop games?

Don’t have a group right now, but want one! (2)
Rarely (2)
Monthly (3)
Bi-Weekly (7)
Weekly (15)
More than once per week (7)

Do you play tabletop games online, or off?

I only play offline (16)
I play offline whenever I can, but enjoy playing online as well. (15)
I have no group to play with at all! (3)
I can’t find an offline group, so I play online. (3)

How long does a typical game session last?

1-3 Hours (10)
4-6 Hours (24)
7-9 Hours (1)


Individual Comments

I like your distinct lack of 4th edition, but the way you still consider it’s points.

Thank you. I honestly have very little experience with 4th edition, but I’ve found very little I consider valuable in what I have read. I do not like the direction the development was taken. That being said, one would have to be a fool to act as though every idea that went into 4th edition was a bad one.

[Your] face is very “grey-beard in training”; take that as you will.

Recognizing that you prefer not to tie yourself to one system or another, the over-all resistance to engaging in a deeper discussion of how your thoughts or ideas might be applied to a particular system (as it has occasionally come up in comments), is a bit off-putting.

I’m pretty sure I know exactly which post, and which comment, you are referring to, since to my knowledge this has only ever come up once. To be clear, I do not avoid tying myself to a specific system most of the time. Sometimes, though, I write about an idea which is purely theoretical, which I may perhaps use in a future game system of my own design. In those cases, discussing the idea within the context of a specific system is often not very productive.

But your point is well taken. I sometimes become defensive when my ego is bruised, and that is a weakness of mine which I must improve upon. If I have made you or anyone uncomfortable because I was being overzealous in defense of my ideas, I do apologize.

While I was reading your Ding Two post, I looked at the articles you felt were bad. I think you are too hard on yourself, but as a fellow writer, I understand the drive for improvement and the need for self-criticism. Buy give yourself a break! It’s a blog you do for fun and for free.

I confess that anytime I write a bad post or miss my own deadlines, my imagination tends to blow things out of proportion. As though everyone who reads the blog is furious at me for failing to live up to my own expectations. Your reassurances are appreciated!

When searching in the archives it would be helpful to have page numbers we can use to find a post we are looking for. And on that topic, what about a search bar.

Page numbers is an interesting idea. I’m not sure how it would work (please elaborate if you’re reading) but I’ll take it under advisement. A search bar, as well as other methods to improve ease-of-navigation, are being worked on.

Stated reading around end early July, went from the beginning post and read every post through to now. Enjoy your colourful sense of humour. You and a lot of other blogs have made me want to make my own, even if it’s only got a few posts to get things off my head. And yes I’m shamelessly plugging: http://clockworkwizard.blogspot.com.au/

Also, as a scientist, a census refers to compulsory information being taken from every unit within a population. A census would require the survey be taken by reader visiting the site, and not just those who chose to fill it in. So it’s actually the Papers & Pencils 2012 Survey. Unless you could measure the number of people who accessed the site and didn’t do the survey, in which you could reduce non-sampling error by including non-participation as a behavioral based, observational category.

Of course, I’m being lighthearted, and would have written census myself :P

What a sneaky way to get a link from my website!

It’s pretty awesome to have a scientist among my readership. I actually didn’t know about that distinction between census and survey, so that’s useful information. Though, like you, I think I’ll continue to use ‘census’ for these. After all, I want all of my readers to take it. >.>

Still one of my favorite blogs.

Official brofist from LS

I was surprised to see you are male. I don’t mean that in a “Dude! You write like a girl!” sort of way. (Although there are linguistics studies that claim the number of pronouns used as well as sentence structure can pinpoint gender.) Perhaps it is simply that, as a female reader, I don’t feel excluded or patronized when I read your blog. I don’t feel like a “female reader”, just a reader. So, thank you.

I count this among the finest compliments I have ever received in my life. I was grinning for days after reading it. Thank you.

keep up the good work

I will try, thanks!

Always an entertaining read! Gets the mind going, and is a great place for inspiration in my own games. I always love to see how other DMs “do their thing”, as it were.

I’m glad I can provide inspiration for you. That’s one of my primary goals with this website.

Keep up the excellent work, comrade.

I will always provide according to my ability, comrade!

You are an amazing man judging from your posts on Twitter. I look forward to more P&P posts. Also, I’d like to see some roleplaying posts (I am more of a roleplayer), but only if you want to.

I’m a little speechless. Thank you for your kind words, and if I don’t follow you on twitter, let me know so I can start!

The process of getting into a role is not something I often do these days, though I’m no stranger to it. I used to be an avid role player on forums and in World of Warcraft. But as a GM, I prefer to focus on crafting an interesting environment for my players. And in the games where I am not a GM, I am most often focused on overcoming obstacles, and don’t tend to invest myself as much in my character’s personality or backstory. None the less, I’ll see if this is something I can explore more on Papers & Pencils.

Great blog.  I don’t always agree with your gaming ideas, but you do make me think.

I get bored with people who agree with me too often. Disagreement and lively discussion are how we learn about each other, and improve ourselves. So disagree with me all you like, my good man!

Keep on the GREAT work! (^_^)b

I’ll do my best. “Great” is a high expectation to live up to! I hope I do not disappoint.

Im a very amateur GM (I’ve run all of one session of my first [recently started] game, and your articles are helping me to be better at what I do. You’ve really helped me already and I love your site.

It means a lot to me to know that I’ve helped. I imagine that by now you’ve run at least a few more sessions. I’d be curious to know if there are any articles you found particularly helpful, or if there is any topic you’d like to see me cover! I’m always open to post suggestions from my readers.

The Girl and the Granite Throne – good. Get on that.

If you say so! Chapter four went up early this month, and chapter five will go up in about two weeks.

I love how you’ve explored how races of monsters are people too, just people who see things a different way.

I personally find the game world to be a much more interesting place if only 90% of ‘evil’ humanoids are actually evil (maybe 99.99%, in the case of goblins). Many people disagree with me on this, but it’s good to know that I’m not entirely alone in this belief.

I want to thank all of my readers, particularly those who responded to the census, for indulging this annual vanity of mine. I found it immensely informative, and reinvigorating. Hopefully by next year I’ll have become a little more competent with Google Docs, and be able to present the data in a more visually pleasing way.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled Halloween programming.

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8 thoughts on “1st Annual Papers & Pencils Reader Census Results”

  1. I missed the deadline for filling out the form ’cause I only just found your blog last week!

    I was searching up stuff to do with the experience system presented in Rise of the Runelords (PFRPG adventure path 01-06) because it didn’t occur to me that it was going by the old 3.5 stuff rather than the PFRPG. It’s sort of like.. 3.P, if that makes sense. I already have to alter it because I’m running a group of eight (I have no idea how it got up to eight, but it’s not as hard as I thought it’d be.)

    Anyway, I came across the “Simple Experience” rules and that made a crapton of sense (in metric that is), so I did some more poking around and also nabbed the simple encumbrance rules because I’m of the opinion that my players are there to play Pathfinder, not “Fantasy Accounting Firm”.

    I really do love this blog though, it’s fantastic and I think I’ll be taking the time to comment on more stuff as you post it, as I’m not sure of whether you wind up seeing new comments on old blog stuff.

    tl;dr = I like your blog mang, you have a continued reader here. :)

    1. I see, and appreciate, every comment. They’re all emailed to me so I don’t miss any of them.

      I’m really glad you liked Simple XP and Simple Encumbrance. I’m actually thinking about retooling that encumbrance system based on what I’ve learned since I first came up with it.

      Regular readers are my favorite kind. <3

      1. Oh, well there we go then! Awesome! I’ll be sure to keep track of my thoughts when I’m reading some of these things you’ve come up with.

        It’s very nice to be able to read someone else’s perspective and apply it to what I’m doing, game wise as well as fiction, regardless of whether they quite know the impact. But if you see all the comments then you’ll know!

        Muaha!

  2. I’m not a scientist but I do work at a lab keeping the big iron running for them. Beyond age and education, might be interesting to find out what kind of work people do, on next survey.

  3. Ha! I actually got my plug.
    Too bad I postponed actually putting up stuff for that blog to do study first!
    I should have said ‘scientist-in-training’, only done a few years.

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