This week we are going to talk about playtesting. This is a very important step in creating a fun and balanced play experience. It will also help you the creator understand your game even better, and give you an insight on how players view your game.
What is Playtesting?
Playtesting in short is playing your game as a test to make sure it works and is fun. The importance of playtesting is a lot bigger than that though. It will help you determine if some parts of your game are “broken” then might help you understand how to fix them. The most important thing playtesting will give you is player insight, and feedback. Knowing how people play or view your game is a huge thing and extremely valuable. In total playtesting your game will likely make your game better.
Where Should I Playtest?
If you have friends who are interested in playing your game then you can just set up a time at a place everyone is comfortable with and play your game to your hearts content. This is a good place to start as your friends are likely willing to be relativity nice to your game and offer suggestions on areas that need improvement. After playtesting with your friends you should move playtesting to a more public space if you were not in a public space already.
A cafe or Local Game Store are great places to move your playtesting to once you and your friends have had a good and critical look at your game. Here your goal is to invite fresh eyes and minds to playtest your polished game.
I recommend providing a survey at this point of playtesting as to have a written copy of players responses. This may seem scary, because of the possibility of negative responses. The secret is though those are the responses you are after. A positive response is good, but does not often help you improve your game. While a critical negative response will tell you where players stopped having fun or lost interest. Though to mind, that not all negative responses are critical and a response like “Your game sucks” provides no insight and should not be taken to heart.
Finally after you have gathered enough information you likely have revisions to make to your game. You should make your revisions and then start the process over again, or if you feel confident then start again but in public.
Helping People Show Up
If you are having a problem getting people to show up, or are afraid that no one will show up. then here are a few tips to maximize your chances.
If you provide free food and drinks at your playtesting event people are more likely to show because they know they are going to get something out of it. Pizza is an easy option that can feed a lot of people. Make sure your venue allows outside food in before you do this though.
The other big helper is to make a sales pitch and see if your venue will allow you to put up a flier and/or post it on social media. If you are providing food make sure you mention that as well. Make your game sound fun and interesting, but also people need to be aware this is not a final product.
That is all my insight on playtesting games. There may be other options I did not mention. Please leave them in the comments. I hope you all have good playtesting sessions that help push you in the right directions.