Puzzled Pint Attendance by City

We do our best at Puzzled Pint events to take attendance. It started in Portland as a curiosity. Or maybe an obsession on the part of Matt C. We just knew we weren’t going to break 30-40 people in attendance, so tracking seasonal change in participation was a fun curiosity.

Fast-forward to moving Puzzled Pint beyond Portland. More cities, more attendees, even breaking some cities into multiple regions (Portland, Seattle, London). When Portland started routinely getting 80+ people, shopping for bars to host the event became much more constrained. As we pull in more guest authors, they want better data on how many people their puzzles will reach. The curiosity became a necessity.

We collect the attendance data, but don’t often share it in an interesting way. The raw data is always available by digging through the standings page for each city, but I thought it would be fun to share graphically. The underlying data covers a year and 3 months. That starts after the explosive growth in Portland and Seattle, but early enough to capture the birth of a dozen new cities.

Below, we have global attendance — the sum of all the cities. This charts overall growth, such as onboarding new cities, as well as growth within the cities.

Global Attendance
Global Attendance

The dark blue squiggily line shows actual attendance, smoothed to curves. The offset light-blue line shows a 2-month rolling average. This average gives a more realistic estimation that buffers over sudden spikes or dips. You can see the trend globally that we always see in Portland: a bump in the summer and a dip in the winter. When it gets cold, people are less likely to leave the warmth of their homes.

Just for fun, I made a stacked-bar chart, broken down by city. The colors and smaller slivers are pretty difficult to read, but you can get a feel for which cities pull in the larger numbers of people. (Spoiler alert: it’s larger urban centers and/or Puzzled Pint venues that have been around longest. Shocking, I know.)

Attendance by City
Attendance by City

I’d considered putting the same data on a line chart, comparing city to city. I felt that was perhaps a little too disheartening to have larger cities directly compared to smaller ones in such a fashion. I instead plotted each city individually, using the same range for the x (time) axis, but varying the y (attendance) range to better normalize and fit the data for a given city.

Keep in mind that there will be some fluctuation and bounce when looking at individual cities. Sometimes a city isn’t able to report attendance stats (or even overall standings) for the month. Sometimes there are teams that take packets but quietly leave without checking in with GC. Sometimes additional teammembers arrive part-way through the event without being counted. Looking at the global numbers helps buffer away some of these localized glitches. Looking at an individual city, especially a smaller one, may result in what appears to be wild changes in attendance due to the more significant margin of error.

So: what does it all mean? It means Puzzled Pint continues to grow. If you’d like to run Puzzled Pint in your city, please contact us and we’ll walk you through what it takes. (Hint: it’s pretty easy!)


Gender Representation at Puzzled Pint

Puzzle events in Portland have, anecdotally, been a fairly even 50/50 split between men and women. Nobody has thought to tally up exact numbers, mainly because we don’t think much about it. But that has been the general consensus of gender split when discussing Portland puzzle events.

We occasionally get out-of-town visitors — familiar with Puzzled Pint in their hometown — playing here in Portland on the second Tuesday. They’re sometimes surprised at the turnout of women at the event.

This month, we thought we’d grab some empirical data about the gender of players from all the cities out there. For the sake of simplicity, we kept the choices simple: male, female, and other/unspecified. Were I to do this again, I would have separated those two slashed options. A nonbinary gender answer is much different from an “I’d rather not say” answer. (See also: Vienna’s large percentage of this category.) I apologize if anyone felt marginalized or under-represented by this grouping.

Brooklyn took the month off, and we didn’t get responses from Los Angeles or the two Seattle locations by the time this data was generated, but barring those data points here is the global result (blue==male, pink==female, magenta==other/unspecified):

Puzzled Pint's global gender breakdown
Puzzled Pint’s global gender breakdown

If you’d like to see the results for your city, as compared to the global results (or other cities), here they are. Hover your mouse to see the city name, or click for a larger version.

In case you’d like to examine the source data or Ruby script to generate these graphs, they’re linked below. Also keep in mind that these are self-reported numbers. A few outliers were thrown out — one team used a fractional number and another team said on their answer sheet that they had 100 team members in the “other” category.


The Puzzled Pint mailing list has closed but you can still hear from us

There are a lot of steps that go into producing Puzzled Pint across 25 locations every month. When it was just Portland, organizing the event could be somewhat ad hoc. Adding Seattle added more communication and process. Running Puzzled Pint in dozens of locations has helped refine and streamline that process. We’ve come a long way from those early days of posting the location puzzle on Tuesday at lunch.

That growth, streamlining, and refinement has forced us to re-evaluate certain parts of our process. Big-picture decisions and the first few rounds of playtesting continue to be the focus of HQ here in Portland — as well as running our monthly event — but there’s only so much worldwide managing we can do, as volunteers, and still maintain sanity. We’ve been slowly federating a lot of the day-to-day duties, activity, and communications to individual cities. One casualty of this is the global announce mailing list. It has been an afterthought for many months now, with most of HQ’s focus on the global Twitter and Facebook accounts. Between these, city-specific social media accounts, setting up a recurring calendar event (try importing Puzzled_Pint.ics into your calendar app), and planning with friends, the global mailing list felt like a little too much overhead for the number of subscribers.

Gone but not forgotten.
Gone but not forgotten.

But what if you were a subscriber? There are options. One complaint about Facebook is that what it decides to show you or hide feels a little non-deterministic. Few people know that you have some level of control over what is hidden or shown as well as what appears in your notification inbox. You can edit a page’s notification settings:

Notification settings. Also take a peek at news feed settings while you’re here.

Then you can decide what kind of posts you’d like to get notifications about:


You can do this for the main Puzzled Pint Facebook page, your individual city, or both:

You can find city links for both Twitter and Facebook on the Puzzled Pint About page, so check there for the latest information, and please excuse the construction and hiccups during our growth.

Average Team Purchases by City

Recently the Puzzled Pint Game Control groups across several cities have had behind-the-scenes discussions about bar booking strategies. As the number of attendees increases, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find friendly and compatible bars. A few cities have dealt with this by constantly using the same bar or cycling through two or three “home bars.” A few others, such as London and Portland, have split Puzzled Pint into two arbitrary groups.

Because most cities try to find new bars each month, we’re always contacting somone who is new to Puzzled Pint. We find a lot of bars misunderstand Puzzled Pint initially. They’ve never heard of it and want GC to reserve a private room or put down a several hundred dollar deposit to guarantee that the players purchase a minimum amount for the evening. We instead try to frame Puzzled Pint more like a trivia night without an MC. It’s a bunch of people eating, drinking, socializing, and solving puzzles. It looks like a regular night to them, albeit a busy one — so it would be helpful to have a few extra folks on staff, but we need no other special treatment.

We thought it would be helpful to share some purchasing stats from around the world. In March, the Question of the Month we presented on the answer sheet asked how much your team spent that evening on food and drink. Not all teams responded, but I’ve noted the count of teams that did.

City Teams Reporting Average Median
Austin 15 (of 21) $43.13 $45.00
Bay Area — Peninsula 11 (of 26) $76.73 $80.00
Bay Area — San Francisco 4 (of 13) $20.25 $20.50
Brooklyn 2 (of 5) $28.00 $28.00
Chicago 16 (of 24) $22.19 $21.25
Phoenix 2 (of 5) $45.00 $45.00
Pittsburgh 1 (of 9) $65.00 $65.00
Portland 20 (of 24) $56.80 $50.00
Seattle – City 18 (of 20) $80.28 $72.50
Seattle – East 26 (of 32) $61.92 $60.00
Montreal 4 (of 4) $81.25 $77.50
Toronto 4 (of 10) $61.25 $52.50
London 10 (of 21) £56.70 £50.00

That the average and median of each city are so close together shows that the average is pretty accurate for that city. There aren’t outliers skewing the average. If you’re a numbers nerd and want to do other sorts of analysis, you can find a read-only version of the source spreadsheet on Google Docs.

City Game Control: Feel free to point bar managers to these statistics.

Players: Don’t forget to generously tip the waitstaff.

Playing the long game, er, puzzle

We have occasionally had players muse that it would be fun to trickle out a “long game” sort of puzzle via team name in the monthly Puzzled Pint standings over the course of many months. To my knowledge, we now have our first standings-based puzzle.

There is a team of players in Portland that, since October, have been putting their team name on their answer sheet as a sticky-label of symbols and letters. For instance, when they started this weirdness, they were known as “! XEHPOH !” on the answer sheet and in the Portland standings. I’m not sure I know the entire team, but I do know the two responsible for this puzzle. One has been a Puzzled Pint guest author and another will be soon.

This past month, their team submitted an unusual answer sheet that seemingly ties together the past 7 months of mystery team names:



It was a fun little puzzle that I’m reprinting here as a bonus puzzle for everyone. To save you a trip to the standings page, here are their previous team names:

Team Names
2014-10 ! XEHPOH !
2014-11 @ PGTODD @
2014-12 ~ HTUI.Z ~
2015-01 % RDORK! %
2015-02 $ IFRCYI $
2015-03 # KQXIRZ #

And please try to avoid putting spoilers in the comments!