Games don’t need to be perfect in order to be play tested. Games need to have the passion to be developed.
My Fellow Designers….Playtesters are forgiving
The last time I playtested Dice Inc./Priests of Olympus, there was a self described “amateur designer” at the table. I thanked him very much for testing our game and I asked him if he had anything he would like me to test. His reply was along the lines of, “none of my games are good enough for me to play in front of people.” I felt bad hearing this because I got the impression he was worried about receiving bad feedback. What I learned from this exchange was that being worried about your game being unfinished is a disservice to you and your games. I have never had the impression that my playtesters ever wanted to full blown ready to publish game. I always had the feeling when you tell testers they will be playing a proto, they will be very forgiving about where the game sits in the development process.
What I think playtesters want to see
From our playtesting experience, I think playtesters want to be taught a game, play it, and provide feedback. That is what they want in the most basic form, I have found that providing some reasons as to why the game does what it does is really appreciated. What I have never come across is a play testers that was expecting anything that resembles a finished game.
A Bonus for PlayTesters
This is where the passion comes in. If you are passionate about your game, and it shows, playtesters will feel like they are more part of the game. Passion does not need to be a grandiose oratory, passion can be confidence in the game, openness to feedback, or an overall desire to do what is best for the game and see it finished and published.
Your Passion vs “Perfection”
I think if you follow your passion for your game, you will have a built in fire behind your game that will keep the project alive. Keeping your games alive is more important that trying to make them perfect. When you go after perfection, you might find that discouragement easier to find and the game will get shelved. Give your game the best chance it has and fuel the project with your passion.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.