Earlier this month I put together two surveys intended to gather self-assessments of the level & kind of prep work GMs did. Originally I focused on sessions, but many commented that campaign prep fed into their session prep style. So I created the latter survey with aid from several people. Yesterday I closed out the surveys and downloaded the info. I haven’t had a chance to seriously dig through it yet, but I wanted to put the raw data and a “graphic” version out for anyone to look at. I’d thought about this project for some time, but RPG Blog Carnival topic, "How and Where I Write and/or Game Prep.", created by Leicester's Ramble pushed me to put it out there.
Keep in mind this survey’s rough and unscientific. It has no controls, the question wording hasn’t been checked, and there’s some serious limitations to the format. So why do it? Because I’d seen many threads about prep online. Often they escalated into a game of one-upmanship. If someone talked about having done a ton of work for a session, commenters would pop on to say they’d done more. Threads about “prep light” approaches had wildly differing definitions. Sometimes participants engaged in a race to the bottom to declare no or negative prep. I understand those kinds of comments. We feel strongly about the process we’ve invested in. I wanted to see, removed from comparison signposts, how GM’s self-assessed what they did.
We ended up with 313 responses for the Session survey and 106 responses for the Campaign survey. I have three documents for those interested in the details. Survey Monkey generated two compiled pdfs of the data. You can get the Session Prep material here via Dropbox. You can get the Campaign Prep pdf here. I should note that weirdly the former includes the “Other, Please Specify” details, but the latter does not. I’m not sure why it generated it that way, I suspect there’s a space question (I wouldn’t let me output whole indivual response material as a pdf due to those limits). I’ve also put together the individual responses and details in a Google Calc table. If you’re looking for the crunchy bits and associative data, check that out. I’ve stripped out IP identifiers, but left the comments intact.
Feel free to check out and play around with this data. Consider it released under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. If you post something about it, a link back to the blog and a heads up would be appreciated. I hope to offer up my own thoughts on this in the next week or two.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to fill out these surveys. I know they weren’t quick, especially the Campaign Prep one. I might try something like this again the future. If I do I’ll definitely crowd-source the questions to get a tighter approach.