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Playtester Protocol

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TheNational
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Joined: 08/03/2009

I met a group of serious gamers that like games such as Catan. They actually probably represent my core target audience. They have playtested the first version of my game and it went pretty well, I learned a lot. I have spent the last 5 months modifying the game and feel pretty good about the most recent version, and I want to ask them to playtest it again.

The thing is this, I hardly know them (I was introduced through a friend and I only met one of them twice, they basically borrowed the game for a couple weeks). The other thing is, I want to really go for it now and do some hard core testing, with me pretty heavily involved.

Is there an ettiquette in this regard. Such as, should playtesters expect something in return? How can I motivate a regular group of gamers to be serious testers, etc.

Thanks a lot for the advice.

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
I would . . .

. . . sit around and play a game for free. I'd drive to do it if there was a couple pizzas waiting there. I can't imagine anyone needing more motivation that that.

:)

metzgerism
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Joined: 06/19/2009
Design guilds are popping up

Design guilds are popping up now, the first serious one in Utah and now we have started one in the Bay Area and I hear Chicago has one as well. If you live near one of these areas, it would be good to give this a whirl...

...better yet, ship this puppy off for blind playtests. There's a lot of info on how to playtest but if you're getting good responses from "chaperoned" playtests, you need to start doing them without your supervision.

If you want, we can give it a test on Aug 24th here in San Jose.

Dirg
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Joined: 07/15/2009
Many local game shops have

Many local game shops have game tables you can reserve for weekends and post in advance. Its an easy way to do some testing. Your post implies the game may not be fully blind ready and this will show you if it is or isn't. Pass our rules out and let them play. You should know what to do after a weekend or 2.

Traz
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Joined: 04/06/2009
with pinky properly raised

Is there an ettiquette in this regard. Such as, should playtesters expect something in return? How can I motivate a regular group of gamers to be serious testers, etc.

Yes. SERIOUS playtesters should receive a copy of the game if they were heavily involved in correcting mechanics, writing good feedback as the game coalesced, etc. If they were more casual - but dedicated - they should at least get their name in the credits in the rulebook.

A nice touch [that helps to motivate] is to ask for each playtester's properly spelled name, telling them that they might get their name listed as a playtester.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Always get names.

Traz wrote:
A nice touch [that helps to motivate] is to ask for each playtester's properly spelled name, telling them that they might get their name listed as a playtester.
I'll second this one. I always-always note the date, time, and context (location), and get each player's preferred name (as they would like it to appear in the credits).

TheNational
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Joined: 08/03/2009
These are really helpful

These are really helpful comments. Giving credit (and pizza) is a really good idea. Just out of curiosity, what do professional playtesters work for?

Thanks.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Tautologies

TheNational wrote:
Just out of curiosity, what do professional playtesters work for?
They work for game companies, silly!

Seriously though: The phrase, "professional playtesters," – specifically the use of the word "professional – implies making a living (or at least making money) off of the action. Tautologically, a professional {anything} is employed to do that thing and works for money. A professional playtester would work for a game company.

That said, a professional playtester probably does not make very much money. It's not like the board game industry is rolling in great big piles of cash (with a few significant outliers).

I would not worry about what "professional" playtesters make, or even worry about finding them. Instead, find people who are smart, thorough, patient, and honest. Treat them well. Treat, reward, and credit them the way you would like to be if you were in their position. Do that, and you'll do just fine.

TheNational
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Joined: 08/03/2009
Thanks again. Invisible, I

Thanks again. Invisible, I think I might print out what you wrote and use it. Helpful stuff.

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