The Internet Diplomacy Survey

The E-Mail/Snail-Mail Crossover

Nic Chilton

Ever since Diplomacy first came out, it was seen as a game that could naturally be a play-by-mail (PBM) game. With the increasing popularity of the Internet in recent years, we have seen the creatiopn and growth of play-by-email (PBEM) Diplomacy, which seems to be attracting larger numbers.

A series of comments from people in a UK Diplomacy PBM 'zine on whether players of PBEM Dip should be targeted for recruitment to postal 'zines made me curious to find out for myself the answer to the question "Are PBEM-ers totally separate from PBM-ers?"

Earlier this year, then, I conducted a survey of readers of the Usenet newsgroup This survey was taken over a period of three months, reposted at various times to give everyone the chance to participate. The survey was in the following form:
                                             YES           NO
                                            -----         ----
A) I play Diplomacy by e-mail (eg JUDGE)  [      ]      [      ]
B) I play Diplomacy in a postal zine      [      ]      [      ]
C) I subscribe to a postal zine           [      ]      [      ]
    (if you've answered NO to (B))

The final results I got were quite interesting. I had 120 replies from different people around the world, which break down geographically as shown below:
The results in numbers for each answer were:

Survey Results
(actual numbers)
Play Email Dip 63 15 20 98
Play in a zine 12 12 3 27
Subscribe to a zine 19 15 5 39
None of the above 0 7 0 7

Looking at the actual results further yields more interesting results. For starters , if we look at those who said yes to (A) playing diplomacy by email, they fall into three categories:

The first two groups obviously know about postal 'zines, but the third group either choose not to subscribe, or more likely haven't seen any postal 'zines yet.

The responses given will be looked at in terms of triples; that is, the answers for questions A, B, C. So a "YNN" is someone who meets condition 3 above, whereas "NNY" is someone who doesn't play Diplomacy postally, but who does subscribe to a postal 'zine.

There are six different possible combinations of answers (the nature of question (C) means that those playing in a 'zine game are assumed to be subscribing to it, so there were no "YYN" or "NYN" answers, and I'm sure someone would have told me if they fell into one of these categories!)

The actual results in triple format are seen in the pie-chart below. The actual numbers of replies is given and the percentages are shown proportionally by area (separately for each ring).

Let's first look at the "YNN" replies (those who play purely by e-mail and do not play in or subscribe to a postal 'zine). I would say that probably most of the people who answered "YNN" belong to the category of non-Dip players who first stumbled across Diplomacy on the Internet, via the newsgroup (the extremely frequent question of "where can I find the rules for Diplomacy?" appearing on the newsgroup backs this up), or who played the game many years ago (e.g., at school), and who, having discovered the newsgroup, started playing again.

The UK...

We see that outside the UK, roughly 75% of replies fall into this category, where as within the UK, it is less than a third. So a higher proportion of Diplomacy players in the UK are involved in Diplomacy outside the Internet. Probably, many of them already played Diplomacy before discovering the e-mail game.

The other major differences in UK players are in the "NYY," "NNN," and "NNY" replies.

The "NYY" replies are from those who play in a postal 'zine but who decide not to play in e-mail Judge games. This also seems to back up the idea that a larger proportion of readers in the UK already played Diplomacy before discovering the newsgroup.

The "NNN" and "NNY" replies only occur in the UK, and there is a simple reason for this (I think!!). All of the "NNN" replies are from the Oxford University Diplomacy Club, who obviously prefer face-to-face to all other forms. I am unsure about the "NNY," and so will not try and speculate on it.

...Versus The World

If you look outside the UK, the percentages of replies are approximately the same. So, although the vast majority of people on the Newsgroup are from the US they are not differently inclined from most of the rest of the world, as far as Diplomacy is concerned.

...And Finally (an excuse)

These results could yield a lot more; however, I have just completed my dissertation, which is why this article may seem sketchy. If anyone wants to go further into these results, they are all in the pie chart and I'm sure no-one would object to letters to the Pouch Deposits column on the subject!


Nic Chilton
University of Leeds, UK

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