Here are the results of the Diplomacy Emotions
Survey (DES) I announced last January.
The DES revealed a great deal about the emotional
feelings Diplomacy players experience during their play of the
game, but it said even more about the state of the hobby, although
not in so many words exactly.
The DES form was distributed in two venues:
the PBEM hobby; primarily through its publication in THE DIPLOMATIC
POUCH, but also in a direct email mailing to a wide variety of
hobbyists; and the PBM hobby in a hard copy mailing to many publishers
(asking them to reprint it in their publications) and the players
in the WWPDC. The responses were enlightening to say the least.
There were a total of 100 useable responses,
perhaps more but the earliest ones to TDP were unuseable. Eighty-five
percent of the responses came via email. Eighty percent came
via TDP's response form. Fifteen percent of the responses came
by snail mail, mostly returned copies of my original DES distribution.
As far as I can tell only two hobby publishers, one email and
one snail mail, reprinted and distributed the DES form. Thus,
it would appear that the responses would be skewered in favor
of the PBEM hobby. However, based on the data I have seen, I
don't think that is the case.
What about geographical and linguistic distribution?
Forty-four of the responses are known to have come from the United
States. Twelve email responses did not indicate a national origin.
Most were probably from the United States. Eight responses came
from Australia. Seven came from Canada. Three came from the UK.
One each came from New Zealand and Hong Kong. About 77% of the
responses came from hobbyists for whom English was their first
language. For the other 23% English was their second language.
In addition to the above countries the following responses were
received: France (4), Norway (3), Sweden (3), Belgium (2), Italy
(2), Denmark (2), Brasil (2), Netherlands (2), Spain (1), Germany
(1), Israel (1), and Finland (1). In my view it was a random
sampling, but it was not a representative sampling of the hobby's
geographical distribution. But once again, I'm not sure that
that matters. As for linguistics, I suspect from the few comments
I received that a few respondents may have had a minor problem
understanding what some of the listed emotions were, but most
seemed to have no problem in this area. Interestingly, only two
respondents did not want to see the results.
What sub-hobbies are represented in the DES?
Exactly half of the respondents indicated they were PBEM players,
or at least basing their responses on a PBEM game or games they
had played. Twenty-six percent indicated a FTF playing experience.
Ten were using a PBM game or games. Nine said a FTF Convention
or Tournament event was the basis for their responses. The rest
said some combination of these or other.
What about time in the hobby? One respondent
did not answer this question. A few also mentioned that while
they may have played the game many years ago (in school as a student
for instance) their total length of actual playing time was considerably
less because they had not played for years. In percentages here
are the numbers of respondents in each category: Less than One
Year (6%); About One Year (30%); 1-2 Years (15%); 2-3 Years (4%);
3-4 Years (6%); 4-5 Years (6%); 5-10 Years (20%); 11-15 Years
(8%); and 16+ Years (4%). Unknown (1%).
So what did they say? Well, here's a look
at the raw data without any interpretation. I've put it into
a table format and all numbers represent percentages with
some rounding-off to make things come out properly. (See
What does it mean? Just about anything you
want it to. Still, for a first attempt it does suggest a few
things which might, or might not, be confirmed by further study.
First, note that of the 150 possible response cells (30 emotions
multiplied by 5 categories of response) only 128 were used. Twenty-two
were not used at all. These choices did not appeal to anyone.
Fourteen cells were used by at least fifty percent of the respondents.
Obviously, these choices appealed to quite a lot of respondents.
Here's a ranking of the thirty emotions based
on the total number of response points they got. The lower the
number, the fewer number of respondents and the less time they
felt the named feeling. The higher the number, the more respondents
and the more time they felt the named feeling. A perfect low
score would be 100. A perfect high score would be 500. (See
Eighteen of the emotions listed received less
than two hundred response points, indicating the respondents were
either rarely or not thinking about them at all. Twelve emotions
received response points indicating they were at least being thought
about on a routine basis.
Of the thirty emotions listed, I would classify
six as positive (Hopeful, Smug, Ecstatic, Mischevious, Confident,
and Happy). Twenty-three were negative. One, Lovestruck, was
a ringer. It entirely depended on how you interpreted it. All
six of the positive emotions were in the bottom one-third of the
list, indicating that these positive emotions were among the most
frequently experienced by the respondents. The ringer was at
the top of the list, indicating hardly anybody (only four respondents)
was thinking about it at all.
Here's a few thoughts on some of the individual
a major emotion, with nearly two-thirds of the respondents indicating
it was of little importance.
Although most respondents said they were confused only rarely,
fourteen percent did admit to being confused often.
evenly divided between the not at all and rarely, and the routinely
and often groups.
playing Diplomacy doesn't lay a guilt trip on anyone, with nearly
ninety percent of the respondents indicating it was not an emotion
they experienced at all or only rarely.
was the high point getter, with ninety percent of the respondents
saying that they experienced this emotion routinely or more, and
a whopping thirty-six percent saying they were constantly suspicious.
It's definitely a game that brings out the paranoia in us.
percent of the respondents said they never got angry playing Diplomacy.
Forty-four said they rarely got angry. Only six percent said
they got angry often.
huge seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they never
got hysterical playing the game, and only six percent said they
felt that way routinely. Nobody admitted to feeling hysterical
often or better.
half of the respondents said they were routinely frustrated.
Most of the rest said they felt that way rarely or not at all.
percent of the respondents said they never experienced this feeling
playing Diplomacy, and thirty-two more percent they felt it only
Almost a perfect bell curve, with just a few more on the positive
not a major concern. Eighty-six percent experienced it not at
all or only rarely.
was another big point getter, ranking number two on the list.
Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they were Happy often
or more playing Diplomacy.
nearly perfect bell curve, showing the respondents are frequently
up to something. Could it be a stab?
percent said they felt this way not at all or only rarely, but
there's no way to tell whether they're thinking about themselves
or somebody else.
Again, a big tendency to the low numbers, with ninety-two percent
of the respondents saying they felt this way not at all or only
rarely, but four percent said they felt this way constantly.
once again, ninety percent said they never or only rarely experienced
lowest numbers of the negative emotions on the list, with ninety-eight
percent at the not at all or only rarely mark.
A complete range of responses, but with the drift toward the high
numbers. Twenty-six percent of the respondents said they were
constantly thinking about caution. Six percent said they didn't
feel it at all.
lower numbers dominated, but there were still forty percent who
said they felt this way either routinely or often.
Very low numbers, only two percent at routinely and none higher.
percent never felt this way, forty-six percent rarely felt this,
and fourteen percent said they felt it routinely or often.
a complete range, with the higher numbers dominating. Eighty-eight
of the respondents said they felt this way routinely or more.
percent said they felt lonely routinely or more, ninety-percent
said they felt this way only rarely or less.
I said, the absolute low point getter. Only two percent said
they felt this routinely and two percent said they felt it often.
I wonder how they defined it?
by the not at all numbers, but with a few on up the scale, and
even two percent at both often and constantly.
percent at often, all the rest at not at all or rarely, about
equally divided between them.
bell curve, with the balance a bit to the low numbers.
still another bell curve, this time with the balance a bit to
the high side.
very tight triangle centered on rarely.
percent for routinely, twenty-six percent for rarely, and seventy
percent for never.
So what do we know from all this? We know
that most of us are usually suspicious, happy, anxious, confident,
mischevious, surprised, and ecstatic when we play Diplomacy. We
also know that most of us are usually not lovestruck, ashamed,
hysterical, shy, jealous, depressed, cautious, sad, enraged, lonely
disgusted, frightened or bored when we play. We may, or may not,
be embarassed, guilty, overwhelmed, angry, exhausted, shocked,
hopeful, smug, frustrated, or confused; depending, I suppose,
on how the game is going.
All of this is nothing but abstract Peeriblah
of course. It is very boring. Even I admit that. The excitement
comes when you put your own real emotional experiences
into those cells and decide how you compare with other Dippers.
It would be great fun for me to comment on some of the responses
I received from players who I know well. Alas, ethics don't allow
it. Sure would be fun, though. I could talk about my own emotional
feelings when playing Diplomacy, but that might not be too interestinganybody either. So, instead let's go back to some abstract Peeriblah.
Have you ever sat and watched a FTF Diplomacy
game being played without being able to hear the verbal communications
between the players, being able to read their orders, or see the
results of the moves and adjustments on the board? All you have
to go on are the facial expressions and body english of the players.
It can be a fascinating study in human emotions....
It has already been recognized that a game
of Diplomacy consists of equal elements of drama and high comedy,
with just enough tragedy thrown in to justify the occasional crocodile
tears that some players shed over their losses. In fact, a serious
play has been written based on the game; and a yearly "virtual
reality" game complete with costumes is played in ...
Still, it is the human interaction around a
classic gameboard that provides the best setting for studying
Diplomacy and the entire spectrum of human emotions the game brings
out in and of people...
One of the big questions I had going into this
project concerned how PBEM Dippers would deal with their "emotions"
in games where they had never met the other players FTF. It just
didn't seem reasonable that they would be able to evaluate their
own, or anybody else's for that matter. As a FTF convention or
tournament player I depend on that immediate physical contact
to generate a major part of my emotional feelings and responses
to the other players. I cannot ever recall getting as "emotional"
about a PBM game. I can't conceive of getting "emotional"
about a PBEM game at all, especially these deadline-every-day
things some people play. Still; on reflection and after watching
Mike play some of his computer games (which bring out all kinds
of emotions he never displays at any other time), and thinking
about the chess games between Kasparov and Big Blue and how they
effected Kasparov's psyche; I realized that it is possible to
feel and respond in an emotional way --- even in a PBEM Diplomacy
game. Big discovery, right? :-) The bottom line, I could detect
no fundamental differences in the emotional responses felt by
FTF as compared with PBEM Diplomacy players.
Still, is it the "real" thing? I
leave that for you to ponder.
The other other big question, "Was there
a difference in the emotional feelings experienced by Americans
as compared with foreigners?" My response, "Insufficient
More Peeriblah is definitely called for.
TABLE OF EMOTIONS WITH RESPONSE PERCENTAGES
|Not At All||Rarely||Routinely||Often||Constantly|
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