Gencon 2015 Boardgaming - A data nerd's look at WHEN people are playing

GenCon's  huge event spreadsheet is chock full of useful data, but it can be hard to see the overall picture. Since I'm now committed to taking Lunarchitects to GenCon and playing in the First Exposure Hall, I thought it would be fun to dig the data a bit and make some charts to show when people will be playing boardgames at Gencon this year.

Note: this only pulls information from the "BGM" listings, and only those as-of May 19th.  It does not include TCGs or CGMs, as close as they are to boardgames.  Since event submission is basically done, this gives a great overall picture of people playing boardgames.

First (and easiest), lets see how many games are being played at every given time.  The great majority of games start on the hour or half-hour, but that's not always the case (some related games launch at one-minute intervals).  I made the chart below by assuming that the games would take all the time they're allotted, though probably many will end early.  Excel Nerd note: this was a simple countifs() of cells whose start is before or equal to certain time, and whose end is after.

The chart isn't too surprising, with a quick jump at the beginning of the days with a slow decay toward the evening.  3AM-8AM there are no events scheduled (people want to sleep about 5 hours, apparently).

The above chart only looks at the number of games being played, not how many people are playing them.  Obviously some events are just for a few people, but others are huge tournaments.  Lets look at how many PEOPLE are actually playing in events.  Excel Nerd note: Now the formula flips to sumifs(), summing a cell with calculated value of MaxPlayers - TicketsAvailable but otherwise using the same formula structure as above.

Again, not too surprising, it looks about like the previous chart.  Interestingly it looks like there are some bigger events happening in the evenings (higher player count relative to the game count, and a steeper but delayed slope down) - especially on Friday night.  I haven't dug deeper to see what big events are happening then, but they look big.

What about looking at a per-day overview of number of games played?  That might be interesting too. Excel Nerd note: this one I ran just like the first, but had to go in manually and subtract a day every 6AM.  Excel is weird with dates, and after 6AM each day you just -1 the value().

It's pretty funny that despite there being all kinds of different games being played and not a ton of events that happen at the same time on multiple days, the decay of events is pretty consistent!  That may be a planned thing from the folks at GenCon, and if it is, well done.

Clearly Friday has the highest peak number of players, but this chart makes it obvious that while it has the most games going on in the early afternoon until about 5, the evening count drops below all the rest.  The total number of events is 1193 on Thursday, 1172 on Friday, 1177 on Saturday, and 383 on Sunday.  That's pretty close to exactly same for Thursday-Saturday, to within about 1% of the average.  Again, GenCon team: well done.

I hope this provided a bit of interesting data!  I really wish I had historical attendance numbers by time (even a chart of enter/exit numbers, one could easily integrate those to get attendance) so I could decide at what time the most players are free, and potentially looking for games!  That could give me a leg-up when scheduling time in the First Exposure Hall...


Will you be GenCon this year?  Interested in seeing or playing Lunarchitects?  If so, drop me a line and we can find a time to meet for a demo!