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What I have learned from being reviewed for the first time

The people at Geeked Up Gaming were kind enough to post a review of my game "Collapse" after I did a demo at a local game shop. Here is the 1 Hour Long review in its entirety https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaysqE87IrE&list=UUEJ_kzTsLEOCtDblX0U4YkA Since this was the first time anyone has posted a review of a game I designed, I wanted to share what I learned.

----Getting the reviewer a prototype----
1: Print & Play
Some reviewers are willing to review print and play’s. For instance reviewers like Weapon’s Grade Tabletop http://youtu.be/MJlw4B-hqSk?t=54s and Geeked Up Gaming https://www.youtube.com/user/geekedupgaming1 will print your file and review it. This saves you time, shipping, and the expense of having to have several prototypes made.
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2: Ship and Reship
Some reviewers will agree to ship the prototype you send them on to the next reviewer or back to you, if you include a check/visa-giftcard in the approximate value of expected shipping costs. With a little planning, this will allow you to get tons of review value out of a relatively small number of prototypes.
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3: Ship and Keep
If your game is relatively inexpensive to prototype, or you got some cash laying around, you can always just ship the review a copy to keep. This has it’s advantages because who doesn’t like free stuff… but don’t expect your kindness to translate into a better review. Remember these people’s word is their currency. They didn’t grow their audiences by giving phony reviews.
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----Make sure your game is ready----
1: Be sure they have a very easy way to learn the game (rules, video, demo)
Your reviewer is not only reviewing your game. They are also reviewing your rules, and how difficult it was for them to learn it. I was very lucky in that I got to teach Tim and his wife the game at a demo so they had a pretty positive response to the learning process http://youtu.be/EaysqE87IrE?t=22m54s despite the fact that they didn't get any rules with the game.
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2: Check your spelling, and grammar
If someone is going to take the time to go through your game and share their feelings, then you owe it to them to have done your homework. This was an embarrassing to learn. Tim went through and read every card for the camera and in doing so he found 2 spelling errors mistake #1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaysqE87IrE&feature=youtu.be&t=6m49s .. mistake #2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaysqE87IrE&feature=youtu.be&t=7m19s (whoops)
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3: Blind play test first
A review is nothing more than a published blind play test. So make sure you have removed all the potential hiccups and sticking points by blind play testing as much as possible beforehand Here is a helpful definition http://creationandplay.blogspot.com/2009/01/playtesting-three-blind.html if this is a new concept for you.
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----Expectations----
1: Don’t expect quick turnaround
Don’t expect that you are the only game they have to review this month. Some reviewers have significant wait times before they can get to you, and when they do, they still have to edit and fit it into their posting cadence. It isn’t unusual to have to wait 2+ Months for your review to go live.
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2: Consider not doing paid previews
I know that several big reviewers do paid KickStarter previews, and I am sure they have their value, but I don’t really see it. Often they charge $200-500 and there just isn’t enough money in game design for me to think this is worth it. I would rather design a killer game that they have to review because their audience is asking for it, than pay them to review it up front.
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3: Be prepared for critical feedback.
Dice Tower really has some good thoughts where this is concerned in their Tips for Game Designers You have to be ready for some tough feedback http://youtu.be/gqqYxa3vTnU?t=25m23s
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4: Be prepared for them to misinterpret things
Reviews are constantly doing one of two things. Either they are trying to condense a lot of information into a short blurb or summary, or they are extrapolating a lot of information from a short email or rule segment. In both scenarios it is very easy for them to misinterpret what you meant. For instance, at the demo, I mentioned that Food cards are kind of worthless in the beginning of the game but very valuable in the end of the game. This led Tim to refer to them as Trash several times in the video Example 1 http://youtu.be/EaysqE87IrE?t=17m17s .. Example 2 http://youtu.be/EaysqE87IrE?t=31m50s This was discouraging because the whole point of the game is to hoard food/ammo/shelter and I don’t want anyone to see food as trash in the game… This may happen to you if you have a line in your rule book that is a little misleading or unclear, and you can’t let their misinterpretation get to you. They are using the info you gave them to come to their conclusions and it is on you to make your message clear…. If you haven’t read Don’t Make Me Think http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Make-Think-Revisited-Usability/dp/0321965515/... then you should consider picking it up.

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blog | by Dr. Radut