Back in June, Ariel Edwards-Levy shared a 1940 Gallup poll, presumably conducted face-to-face, about what games Americans played in the past year.

I thought it would be fun to re-run that question and see how things have changed. Here’s the most played of these games today, sorted in descending order by 2023 results.

And here’s those same findings sorted by the biggest change (absolute value).

The average of these games was played by 25% of Americans in 1940, and by 28% in 2023. Key changes—

  • Those who have played Solitaire in the past year have doubled compared to 1940: 65% vs. 33%. I’m going to assume that’s because of people playing Solitaire on their computers, smartphones, and tablets. I don’t think more people are sitting alone at the kitchen table dealing out cards.
  • Bridge playing has collapsed, dropping from 38% to 6%. Perhaps because of the requirement for exactly four players, it’s no longer a common social activity. Similarly, pinochle playing has collapsed, dropping from 27% to 5%.
  • Chess playing has quintupled, to 30%; again, I’m going to assume that’s due to video games. While usually I see people playing Candy Crush on their devices at the airport, I do see chess players as well.
  • The growth in Dominoes surprises me, as it doubled from 17% to 35%, though anecdotally I’ve heard of more people playing Mexican Train Dominoes.
  • I’m also surprised at the growth in Charades, from 4% to 15%. No idea what’s going on there.
  • Poker playing is less a social activity, with the rise of online gambling: poker playing is up 5 percentage points, increasing to 35%.
  • The number who has played golf has increased, from 15% to 20%; this may now include golf-related activities, such as putting greens, driving ranges, and more realistic miniature golf. Tennis playing has increased from 14% to 17%.

As we’ve written elsewhere, mobile games have made Americans a nation of gamers. They’ve also transformed playing games from a social activity to a more individualistic activity.

Researchscape International, which conducts PR surveys and newsmaker surveys, fielded an online survey of 1,076 U.S. adults from September 8 to 11, 2023. Results were weighted by ten demographic variables to better represent the overall U.S. population.

Photo credit: iStockPhoto Diane Labombarbe.