On Playtesting

Posted on September 10, 2008, 6:21 pm, by Elizabeth LaPensée, under Games, INSPIRATION, RESOURCES, Testing.

Tracy Fullerton provides a helpful overview and in-depth suggestions about how to set up, run, and make use of playtesting sessions as a designer. I plan to adapt these methods into the playtesting sessions of the games made during my doctorate. I strongly believe in the process of iterative game design, as supported by Zimmerman, Fullerton, and other academic/game designer hybrids. I find myself taking a strange shift from game writer to game designer lately in my career.

Types of Tests
Self-testing: play through and start a notebook to record feedback
Playtesting with confidants: Write down observations, ask open-ended non-leading questions
Playtesting with strangers: (Better because they have nothing to gain or lose)
Ideal playtesters (target audience): What are your hobbies? Why did you respond to the bulletin? How often do you play and/or buy this type of game?

Playtesting Session
Introduction (2-3 minutes)
Warm-up discussion (5 minutes)
Play Session (15-20 minutes)
Discussion of game experience (15-20 minutes)

  • Overall, what were your thoughts about the game?
  • What were your thoughts about the game play?
  • Were you able to learn how to play quickly?
  • What is the objective of the game?
  • How would you describe this game to someone who has never played it before? What would you tell them?
  • Now that you have had a chance to play the game, is there any information that would have been useful to you before starting?
  • Is there anything that you did not like about the game? If so, what?
  • Was anything confusing? Please take me through what you found to be confusing.

Playtesting Methods
One-on-one testing
Group testing
Feedback forms
Interview
Open discussion
Data hooks (player movement and actions)

Overall, it’s better to use several methods for the purpose of data triangulation, which is what I intend to do. I’ll likely combine open interview and observation. Feedback forms and written responses really aren’t useful in the context of indigenous oral communication.

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