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Blind play testing, testing your own game

We have already written several articles about Playtests such as:

In this article, we want to zoom in on the importance of blind play testing and different ways to get testers. Because every successful game is preceded by an enormous amount of time to test the game through and through.

Blind play testing is letting people test your game without being present yourself, or at least without providing input on how the game should work. The testers must therefore figure out for themselves how the game should work based on the game components and the rule book.

The importance of playtesting
Peter c Hayward

A week ago we took part in an online board game design virtual summit. Peter Hayward, founder of Jellybean Games, was interviewed about the importance of playtesting. The chance that your game will be perfect from day one is nil. Even if you have already put a lot of time into checking all aspects of the game yourself, it is still necessary to get others to look at it. You know how the game works, or should work, so you will never play the game like someone who opens the game for the first time and has to find out everything yourself. Through playtesting you want to see if the game works as you envision it, but also whether people like it and stay involved.

You also want a game to feel intuitive. If you are present yourself, pay attention to what mistakes people make and why during the blind play test. The mistakes that are made often arise from how the game seems to work and can therefore also serve as inspiration to adjust the game.

Lessen uit het playtesten

A simple example of our game 'Tomb of Rasha'; In making this game the aim is to use as few game components as possible. Keeping track of the health points of a character or monster is therefore done by placing hearts in the top corner of the card. By turning the card a quarter turn there is a different number of hearts so you can keep track of the health points in that way. During the making of the cards the hearts initially decreased clockwise. This required you to turn the card counterclockwise to reveal the correct number. During playtesting we saw that it feels more logical to turn the card clockwise. This was a simple but useful change for us to make.

How do you get playtesters?

It is not always easy to find playtesters. Often there are people in your immediate vicinity who would like to try out your game, such as family and friends. Keep in mind that you cannot stick to that too much. Besides the fact that you also want to do testing among a larger and more mixed audience, you have to assume that testing your game is not really fun. Especially blind play testing of a game can be quite frustrating because you have to look things up in the rules.

Playtesters outside your personal circle can be found through online forums or social media groups such as BoardgamePlaytestersGuild . On BoardGameGeek a forum has been set up specifically for the topic “Seeking Play testers“, But there too you see many requests left unanswered. It often happens that game makers offer something for it, for example a free copy of the game. Being able to be involved in the development of the game by showing that you are actively doing something with the feedback that is given helps to get people to participate.

Another way that we are very enthusiastic about ourselves is 'playtest exchange'. This means that you exchange a playtest with another game maker. You playtest their game, they playtest yours. You see that this principle is sometimes offered on BoardGameGeek. In addition, special social media groups have been set up for this, such as “the (not just) Blind Playtesters Group“. This is not only good because it allows you to have your own game play-tested, but you also learn a lot from play-testing other games. Both in the field of game design and in the field of giving and receiving feedback. Highly recommended!

Make sure you use your playtest time!

Something that stuck with us from the interview with Peter Hayward is the value of a playtest. He indicated that you should treat a playtest session as if every minute costs 10,000 euros. If you think about it this way, you will have to make sure that you spend every minute usefully and thus prepare the playtest very well. Make sure there are no serious mistakes in the game that could easily have been avoided, read the rulebook again and check that you have all the game components necessary to play the game. Also make sure you have described a goal for yourself. What do you want to get out of this playtest session? Do you want to get a general impression of your game or check specific elements? What questions do you want to ask the testers and what do you want to pay attention to when playing the game? With good preparation you get a lot more out of your playtest.

Discuss your expectation with your playtesters in advance and also indicate that if they lose interest, they are under no obligation to keep playing until the end. Also, you don't always have to let your entire game play. Especially with games that take a long time, it can sometimes be enough to play only the first half hour or to start from somewhere from a certain scenario. Most of all, appreciate the effort people want to put into your game and be grateful!

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