Researching Chess – Google Trends Data Visualization
Researching Chess – Google Trends Data Visualization

Researching Chess – Google Trends Data Visualization

*Note: This research was inspired by the SWD Challange for November 2020 where members had to create a visual that explains change. I collected the data at the beginning of November.

How our interests are influenced by popular culture

On Oct 23rd Netflix released Queen’s Gambit, a series following a young girl on her journey to becoming the World’s Top Chess player. Hours after the release of Queen’s Gambit, it became the most watched series on Netflix.

Chess was a big part of my culture growing up so naturally I was one of the many people who binge-watched Queen’s Gambit in no time. To no surprise the film spaked back my interest in chess and I started searching for chess boards and chess tutorials online. Then I stumbled upon a comment on Twitter that Queen’s Gambit will surge chess board sales and got intrigued how search behavior in Google changed following the release of Queen’s Gambit. So I turned to my favourite tool, Google Trends, to analyse seachers’ behavior towards chess.

Since this is a trend over time data, I am using a simple line chart. The chart below shows the trend for both Queen’s Gambit and Chess topics for the past 90 days:

Google Trends Data Visualization - Queen's Gambit vs Chess

Somehow looking at this chart it made me wonder how the interest in change has changed over the years. Google Trends data goes back to 2004. The line chart below shows interest in Chess as a topic from 2004 to 2020. And the decline really confused me.

Google Trends Data Visualization - Chess searches over time

This downward trend made me wander what had happened to decrease the interest in Chess over the years, especially around 2007 to 2010. Considering the web and Google usage have evloved significantly since 2004 and general search trend has increased, it was really strange to me that the interest in Chess would decline. I looked at the popular searches around 2004 and 2005 and these search terms were around “chess online”, “yahoo chess”, etc.

The Rise of Social Media and Smartphones

My theory for the interest decline in Chess

In the early 2000s Yahoo was a big player on the web. It provided options for people to incteract with other people playing traditional games online like chess, beckgammon and card games. Its share of users declined however as Google evolved and Facebook slowly entered out daily lives. Facebook started to gain popularity during 2007 and 2008. By that time Goolge was already winning users over Yahoo and with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 user behavior online changed. People will be searching for answers on Google or browse Facebook photos of friends and familyt, possibly also playing games via iPhone apps. So using the search engine to find information on chess wasn’t top of mind anymore.

As the graph below shows, Facebook and iPhone searches took over in 2006 – 2007 which is when we see the decline in popularity of chess.

Google Trends Data Visualization - Chess vs Social Media

To put all of these thoughts and findings together I created a dashboard in Google Data Studio

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